'Beasts,' 'Bernie,' 'Middle,' 'Moonrise' earn two nods

Much-discussed Oscar contenders “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “Silver Linings Playbook” each received mixed signals from the nominating committees of the Gotham Independent Film Awards.

The two projects matched “Middle of Nowhere” and “Moonrise Kingdom” by drawing two nominations for the 22nd annual kudos, set for Nov. 26, but neither the Benh Zeitlin-directed “Beasts” nor the David O. Russell-helmed “Silver” received a nod for top feature film.

Selections for each category for the Gothams were determined by five-person committees who consult with each other to make their choices. One fivesome handled top feature and breakthrough director, another quintet picked ensemble performance and breaktrhough actor.

That left “Bernie,” “Middle of Nowhere” and “Moonrise Kingdom” nominated for top feature along with “The Master” and “The Loneliest Planet,” directed by Julia Loktev. Meanwhile, the Gothams tapped “Bernie” “Moonrise” and “Silver” for best ensemble with “Safety Not Guaranteed” and “Your Sister’s Sister,” the latter two each featuring Mark Duplass.

Breakthrough director noms went to Zal Batmanglij (“Sound of My Voice”), Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky (“Francine”), Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin (“Now, Forager”), Antonio Mendez Esparza (“Here and There”) and Zeitlin (“Beasts”).

“I’ve been going festival to festival in Europe,” Zeitlin told Variety from Abu Dhabi, where he is screening the film as part of a tour that will take him through Europe, “and I can sort of sense the word of mouth about the movie has spilled out of America. And then starting in the next couple of weeks I’ve got lots of New York and L.A. on my plate.”

Receiving breakthrough acting noms were Mike Birbiglia (“Sleepwalk With Me”), Emayatzy Corinealdi (“Middle”), Thure Lindhardt (“Keep the Lights On”) Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts”) and Melanie Lynskey (“Hello, I Must Be Going”), who has had prominent roles dating back to 1994′s “Heavenly Creatures.” The breakthrough award considers veteran performers who reach a new level of performance in their careers.

Nominated for best documentary were “Detropia,” “How to Survive a Plague,” “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present,” “Room 237″ and “The Waiting Room.”

Competing in the “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You” category are “Kid-Thing,” “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,” “Red Flag,” “Sun Don’t Shine” and “Tiger Tail in Blue.” Nominated for the $25,000 Spotlight on Women Filmmakers “Live the Dream” grant were Leah Meyerhoff (“I Believe in Unicorns”), Stacie Passon (“Concussion”) and Visra Vichit Vadakan (“Karaoke Girl”).

Previously announced career tributes will go to thesps Marion Cotillard and Matt Damon and Participant Media founder Jeff Skoll, in addition to Russell.

Gordon Cox contributed to this report.

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