“12 Years a Slave” got a big boosts to its Oscar campaign by reaping a leading three bids, including Best Feature, for the 23rd annual Gotham Independent Film Awards. These prizes will be handed out on Dec. 2, the day before the New York Film Critics Circle announce their picks for the best of the year.
Also up for Best Feature are two other Oscar contenders — “Before Midnight” and “Inside Llewyn Davis” as well as two true indie films — “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” and “Upstream Color.” Eligibility for this award is restricted to American films with a distributor that were made with “a economy of means.” Compare that criterion to the rival Indie Spirits which consider only those films made for $20 million or less.
This year, the Gotham Awards split the lead acting category into gender specific prizes but relegated all supporting performances to the single breakthrough category. It also eliminated the ensemble award.
Up for Best Actor are leading Oscar contenders Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”), Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”) and Robert Redford (“All is Lost”) as well as Oscar Isaac (“Inside Llewyn Davis”) and Isaiah Washington (“Blue Caprice”).
Oscar frontrunner Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”) vies for Best Actress against Scarlett Johnansson (“Don Juan”), Brie Larson (“Short Term 12”), Amy Seimetz (“Upstream Color”) and Shailene Woodley (“The Spectacular Now”).
The breakthrough acting nominees are: Dane DeHaan (“Kill Your Darlings”), Kathryn Hahn (“Afternoon Delight”), Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”) Lupita Nyongo (“12 Years a Slave”) and Robin Weigert (“Concussion”).
Breakthrough Director contenders are: Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station”), Adam Leon (“Gimme the Loot”), Alexandre Moors (“Blue Caprice”), Stacie Passon (“Concussion”) and Seimetz (“Sun Don’t Shine.”)
And the Best Documentary nominees are: “The Act of Killing,” “The Crash Reel,” “First Cousin Once Removed,” “Let the Fire Burn” and “Our Nixon.”
The nominees for each category are decided by separate juries of “distinguished film critics, journalists, festival programmers, and film curators.” The contenders for Best Feature and Breakthrough Director were decided by film critics Scott Foundas, Eric Kohn, Christy Lemire, Andrew O’Hehir and Dana Stevens. Acting nominees were chosen by film critics Justin Chang, Lisa Kennedy, David Rooney and Leah Rozen, and TIFF artistic director Noah Cowan. And the documentary lineup was determined by editor Cynthia Fuchs and festival programmers Charlotte Cook, Ben Fowlie, Mike Maggiore and Sky Sitney.
Winners will be decided by “separate juries of writers, directors, actors, producers, editors, and others directly involved in making films.”
Last year, “Moonrise Kingdom” won Best Feature but was snubbed at the Oscars while “Your Sister’s Sister” took Best Ensemble. Two years ago, “Beginners” and eventual Oscar nominee “The Tree of Life” shared the Best Feature prize while “Beginners” also won Best Ensemble. “The Descendants” lost both those races but also reaped a Best Picture Oscar bid.
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