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What Gotham Award Noms Tell Us About Awards Buzz: ‘Birdman,’ ‘Boyhood,’ ‘Budapest’ Looking Good

What Gotham Award Noms Tell Us About Awards Buzz: 'Birdman,' 'Boyhood,' 'Budapest' Looking Good

Arriving early in the awards cycle are the IFP’s Gotham Independent Film Awards (in seven competitive categories). They have little influence on Oscar voters, but do start to build positive momentum for certain buzzy titles. They have more influence over L.A.’s upcoming Indie Spirit Award nominations. 

So it’s no surprise that Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” (IFC)–the current Oscar frontrunner for Best Picture–led the way with four nominations, nor that two Fox Searchlight films, Wes Anderson’s “Grand Budapest Hotel” and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s  “Birdman,” are strong award season contenders. Of the other two feature nominees, Ira Sachs’ “Love is Strange” could have used nominations for its two actors, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, while Jonathan Glazer’s under-appreciated indie feature “Under the Skin” and Best Actress nominee Scarlett Johansson mainly gained awareness for the Indie Spirits–if the British film is even deemed eligible. 

Notably absent was a Best feature nomination for Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher.” Director Miller will have to settle for his previously announced tribute as well as the consolation special jury award for his three lead actors Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum. The Sony Pictures Classics film could have used that lift going forward. 

“Boyhood” stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette both get boosts –although they’ll both contend for in the supporting Oscar categories.  “Birdman” Oscar frontrunner Michael Keaton and “Whiplash” rising star Miles Teller (SPC) also move forward. While most of us haven’t seen A24’s “A Most Violent Year” from “All is Lost” writer-director J.C. Chandor, the Gothams committee did, nominating “Inside Llewyn Davis” star Oscar Isaac for the second year in a row. 

Also missing was a Best Actress nomination for Reese Witherspoon for Jean-Marc Vallee’s “Wild,” a movie that should persevere nonetheless with Searchlight solidly behind it. Julianne Moore builds forward motion for her performance as a woman contending with Alzheimer’s in SPC’s Toronto pickup “Still Alice.” I was happy to see Mia Wasikowska get a nod for Weinstein Co’s neglected outback drama “Tracks,” along with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who shines bright in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “Beyond the Lights,” a likely Indie Spirit contender. 

Of the breakthrough actors, “Obvious Child”‘s Jenny Slate is the most likely to move ahead to Indie Spirit contention. 

The two doc Oscar frontrunners continue to be Steve James’ “Life Itself” and Laura Poitras’s “CITIZENFOUR.” 

The 2014 ceremony is set for December 1 at Cipriani Wall Street in downtown Manhattan. As previously announced, Miller, Tilda Swinton and Ted Sarandos will be honored with career tributes.

The 2014 Gotham Independent Film Award nominations are:

Best Feature

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, director; Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John
Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole, producers (Fox Searchlight

Richard Linklater, director; Richard Linklater, Cathleen
Sutherland, Jonathan Sehring, John Sloss, producers (IFC Films)

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson, director; Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales,
Jeremy Dawson, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Love Is Strange
Ira Sachs, director; Lucas
Joaquin, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Ira Sachs, Jayne Baron Sherman,
producers (Sony Pictures Classics)

Under the Skin
Jonathan Glazer, director; Nick Wechsler, James Wilson, producers
(A24 Films)

Best Documentary

Robert Greene, director; Douglas Tirola, Susan Bedusa, Robert
Greene, producers (The Cinema Guild)


Laura Poitras, director; Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk
Wilutzky, producers (RADiUS, Participant Media, and HBO Documentary Films)

Life Itself

Steve James, director; Zak Piper, Steve James, Garrett Basch,
producers (Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films)


Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez, directors; Lucien
Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel, producers (The Cinema Guild)

Point and Shoot

Marshall Curry, director; Marshall Curry, Elizabeth Martin,
Matthew Van Dyke, producers (The Orchard and American Documentary / POV)

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award

Ana Lily Amirpour for A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
(Kino Lorber)

James Ward Byrkit for Coherence (Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Dan Gilroy for Nightcrawler (Open Road Films)

Eliza Hittman for It Felt Like Love (Variance Films)

Justin Simien for Dear White People (Lionsgate and Roadside

Best Actor*

Bill Hader in The Skeleton Twins (Lionsgate and Roadside
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood (IFC Films)
Oscar Isaac in A Most Violent Year (A24 Films)
Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Miles Teller in Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics)

* The 2014 Best Actor nominating panel also voted to award a
special Gotham Jury Award jointly to Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and Channing
Tatum for their ensemble performance in Foxcatcher (Sony Pictures Classics).


Best Actress

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood (IFC Films)

Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Beyond the Lights (Relativity Media)

Julianne Moore in Still Alice (Sony Pictures Classics)

Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin (A24 Films)

Mia Wasikowska in Tracks (The Weinstein Company)

Breakthrough Actor

Riz Ahmed in Nightcrawler (Open Road Films)

Macon Blair in Blue Ruin (RADiUS)

Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood (IFC Films)

Joey King in Wish I Was Here (Focus Features)

Jenny Slate in Obvious Child (A24 Films)

Tessa Thompson in Dear White People (Lionsgate and Roadside

Twenty writers, critics and programmers participated in the
nomination process, considering 199 eligible submissions. The Nominating
for the 2014 Gotham Independent Film Awards were:

Nominating Committee for Best Feature and Breakthrough Director:

Justin Chang, Senior Film Critic, Variety

Eric Kohn, Lead Film Critic, Indiewire

Christy Lemire, Film Critic, ChristyLemire.com and co-host, What
the Flick?!

Andrew O’Hehir, Film Critic, Salon.com

Joshua Rothkopf, Film Editor, Time Out New York

Nominating Committee for Best Documentary:

Charlotte Cook, Director of Programming, Hot Docs Canadian
International Documentary Festival

Bilge Ebiri, Film Critic, New York Magazine and Vulture

Cynthia Fuchs, Film-TV Editor, PopMatters

Tom Hall, Executive Director, Montclair Film Festival

Sky Sitney, Visiting Artist, Georgetown University Film and Media Studies


Nominating Committee for Best Actor and Best Actress:

Mark Harris, Editor-at-Large, Entertainment Weekly and columnist, Grantland

Ann Hornaday, Film Critic, The Washington Post

Glenn Kenny, Critic, RogerEbert.com; author, Anatomy of an Actor: Robert De Niro

David Rooney, Film & Theater
Critic, The Hollywood Reporter

Elizabeth Weitzman, Film Critic, New York Daily News

Nominating Committee for Breakthrough Actor:

Sam Adams, Editor of Criticwire, Indiewire

A.A. Dowd, Film Editor, The A. V. Club

Sheila O’Malley, Film Critic, RogerEbert.com

Ronnie Scheib, Film Critic, Variety

Stephen Whitty, Film Critic, Newark Star-Ledger

Spotlight on Women Filmmakers ‘Live the
Dream’ Grant

For the fourth
consecutive year, IFP is proud present the euphoria Calvin Klein Spotlight on
Women Filmmakers ‘Live the Dream’ grant, a $25,000 cash award for an alumna of
IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs. This grant aims to further the careers of
emerging women directors by supporting the completion, distribution and
audience engagement strategies of their first feature film.

The nominees are:

Garrett Bradley, director, Below Dreams

Claire Carré, director, Embers

Chloé Zhao, director, Songs My Brothers Taught Me

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