Gotham Independent Film Awards offer split decisions

The Nov. 26 Gotham Independent Film Awards serve less as a harbinger for the coming awards season than they do as an example of what happens when groups as small as five people make selections. In short, expect some unexpected.

Nonetheless, this morning’s nominations announcement did provide feathers for the caps of certain projects.

Gotham Independent Film Awards
Nominating Committees

Feature and Breakthrough Director
1) Scott Foundas, Associate Program Director, Film Society of Lincoln Center; Contributing Editor, Film Comment
2) Ann Hornaday, Film Critic, The Washington Post
3) Glenn Kenny, Chief Film Critic, MSN Movies
4) Karina Longworth, Film Writer, LA Weekly & Village Voice
5) Wesley Morris, Film Critic, The Boston Globe


Ensemble Performance and Breakthrough Actor

1) Peter Debruge, Senior Film Critic/Associate Features Editor, Variety
2) Ed Gonzales, Film Editor and Co-Founder, Slant Magazine
3) Eric Kohn, Lead Film Critic, Indiewire
4) Leah Rozen, Movie Critic, The Wrap.com and freelance writer
5) Elizabeth Weitzman, Film Critic, New York Daily News

Best Documentary
1) Cynthia Fuchs, Film-TV Editor, PopMatters
2) Tom Hall, Artistic Director, Sarasota Film Festival
3) Rachel Rosen, Artistic Director, San Francisco Film Society
4) Ronnie Scheib, Film Critic, Variety
5) Sky Sitney, Festival Director, AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Festival

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You
Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film, Museum of Modern Art;
Members of the editorial staff of Filmmaker Magazine: Scott Macaulay (Editor-in-Chief), Nick Dawson, Brandon Harris, Ray Pride, Alicia Van Couvering

Perhaps the most notable result was ballyhooed Oscar contender “Silver
Linings Playbook” earning a nomination for top ensemble but not for top
feature film (even though director David O. Russell is getting one of the event’s career tributes). This seeming inconsistency is explained by the fact that
two different groups of five hashed out the noms for each of
those categories. (See box, right.)

In addition, the Gothams proactively seek to draw attention to films that are often ignored in the larger awards races — exemplified this year by Julia Loktev’s “The Loneliest Planet” earning a feature film nod alongside “Bernie,” “The Master,” “Middle of Nowhere” and “Moonrise Kingdom.”

The Gothams don’t offer a best acting category, instead restricting themselves to celebrating breakthrough performances. That term is seemingly interpreted liberally, as evidenced by the appearance of Melanie Lynskey, who launched her career alongside Kate Winslet 18 years ago when they co-starred in “Heavenly Creatures” and who has worked regularly since. But Lynskey’s work in “Hello, I Must Be Going” is perceived as a turning-point performance for her.

One could, however, look at the Gothams as a serious momentum builder for Emayatzy Corinealdi (”Middle of Nowhere”), whose widely lauded performance is seen as an underdog story that might actually have a happy ending by the time the major awards role around.

Less of an Oscar underdog at this point are the two Gotham nominees — director Benh Zeitlin and star Quvenzhane Wallis — from “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” but every opportunity for them to stay in the awards conversation will be a valuable one. But like others, that film fell victim to the Gothams’ different-strokes-for-different-folks phenomenon, getting shut out of the feature film noms.

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