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Who Will and Should Win at Tonight’s Gotham Awards

Who Will and Should Win at Tonight's Gotham Awards

The 24th annual Gotham Independent Film Awards go down tonight at Cipriani Wall Street in New York, the first competitive awards show of the season. Indiewire will be on the scene, but in the meantime we figured why not offer a preview of how things might play out.

Note first that the Gothams can be incredibly unpredictable. Last year, “Inside Llewyn Davis” beat eventual Oscar winner “12 Years a Slave” for best film, while Brie Larson won over Cate Blanchett for best actress. And there’s similar examples pretty much every year. In 2012, “Your Sister’s Sister” won for best ensemble performance over “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2011, “Beginners” and “The Tree of Life” tied for best feature, beating out arguable favorite “The Descendants.” In 2010, Ronald Bronstein won best breakthrough actor (for “Daddy Longlegs”) over eventual Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (for “Winter’s Bone”). So despite what’s suggested below, it’s likely we’ll be in for a few or more surprises.

READ MORE: The 7 Biggest Surprises of the 2014 Gotham Awards Nominations

With that in mind, here’s our take on 6 juried categories:

Best Feature

The nominees: Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Love is Strange,” “Under The Skin
What will win: A tougher call than it looks. “Boyhood” or “Birdman” are the obvious choices here, but remember that “obvious” doesn’t necessarily result in a win at the Gothams (see “12 Years” losing last year). Arguments could be made for any of the five nominees taking home this prize. And while I’m tempted to go out on a serious limb and suggest “Love is Strange” or “Under The Skin” pull off a shocker, I’ll instead play it safe and go with “Boyhood” — though I do wonder if it will be the only one of its four nominations that results in a win.
What should win: “Boyhood.” While each of the other nominees are absolutely great in their own ways (this is a pretty remarkable quintet), Linklater’s epic 12 year project stands out as a pretty mindblowing achievement in filmmaking. But really, I’d be happy with any of these films taking home the prize.

Best Documentary

The nominees: “Actress,” “CITIZENFOUR,” “Life Itself,” “Manakamana,” “Point and Shoot”
What will win: In a similar vein as “Boyhood,” it’s really difficult to imagine the Gothams passing over the chance to reward Laura Poitras for her stunning achievement with Edward Snowden doc “CITIZENFOUR.” Though again, nothing is certain with these folks.
What should win: Having not seen “Manakamana,” it’s not an entirely fair decision, but “CITIZENFOUR” has resonated with me considerably in the two months or so since I first saw it.

Best Actress

The nominees: Patricia Arquette, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Julianne Moore, Scarlett Johannson, Mia Wasikowska
What will win: Is there a Brie Lawson-style shocker waiting in the wings here? Both Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) and Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) seem poised for Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively (and at this point, both seem like they have excellent shots at winning), which is similar to when Cate Blanchett was nominated here last year. She lost to Larson, and I’m thinking both Moore and Arquette could lose out here to Scarlett Johannson for “Under The Skin.” Just a hunch.
What should win: I think Arquette and Moore give career-best performances in “Boyhood” and “Alice,” respectively, but Scarlett Johannson is pretty remarkable in “Skin,” and this might be the only chance for that to be justly rewarded (Johannson needs to start winning things, already).

Best Actor

The nominees: Bill Hader, Ethan Hawke, Oscar Isaac, Michael Keaton, Miles Teller
What will win: Matthew McConaughey began his endless winning streak here last year for “Dallas Buyers Club,” and it seems more likely than not that Michael Keaton might be about to the same for “Birdman.” He’s my prediction, but I’d definitely watch out for Oscar Isaac, who lost in this category last year for “Inside Llewyn Davis” and is excellent in “A Most Violent Year.”
What should win: These are five performances that are pretty hard to argue against, and five performances that are very different from one another. I don’t envy the jury for this category, but if I was on it, my vote would ever-so-slightly go to Bill Hader. He pulls off such a unique blend of comedy and drama in “The Skeleton Twins” and it’s a shame that the Best Actor is in general such a crowded scene this year (he didn’t even get an Indie Spirit nod), because Hader deserves considerable kudos.

Best Breakthrough Actor/Actress

The nominees: Riz Ahmed, Macon Blair, Ellar Coltrane, Joey King, Jenny Slate, Tessa Thompson
Who will win: Tough call, especially given this category has historically almost always not gone to the favorite (Lupita Nyong’o, Quvenzhane Wallis and Jennifer Lawrence all lost despite going on to Oscar glory). The favorites are probably Ellar Coltrane (“Boyhood”) and Jenny Slate (“Obvious Child”), and they definitely could win. Really anyone could, though Joey King (“Wish I Was Here”) is probably least likely to succeed. I’ll somewhat randomly go with Macon Blair (“Blue Ruin”) as my prediction. It just feels like something the Gothams would do for some reason.
Who should win: Jenny Slate. Everyone nominated here is great but Slate’s extremely charming performance in “Obvious Child” is sincerely of the star-making variety.

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director

The nominees: Ana Lily Amirpour, James Ward Byrkit, Dan Gilroy, Eliza Hittman, Justin Simien
Who will win: This seems like a race between Dan Gilory (“Nightcrawler”) and Justin Simien (“Dear White People”), but the remaining three are truly all potential spoilers. My bet is Ana Lily Amirpour sneaks in for her “Iranian vampire Western” “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.”
Who should win: I’m going to abstain because I haven’t seen “Coherence” and really love the four other films. I’d genuinely be happy with any of them winning.

READ MORE: ‘Boyhood’ Leads Gotham Awards Nominations

Peter Knegt is a contributing editor at Indiewire and our awards columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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