Oscar frontrunner “Boyhood” got a big boost Thursday reaping a leading four bids, including Best Feature, for the 24th annual Gotham Independent Film Awards. These prizes, which are bestowed by the New York-based Independent Feature Project that salutes achievement in indie films, will be handed out on Dec. 1, just hours after the New York Film Critics Circle announce their picks for the best of the year.
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Also up for Best Feature at the Gotham Awards are two other strong Oscar contenders — “Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” — as well as two true indie films (“Love is Strange” and “Under the Skin”). 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.
As with last year, the Gotham Awards split the acting categories into gender specific prizes that include supporting performances but kept with just a single breakthrough category. And while there is no longer a competitive Ensemble award, the Best Actor jury bestowed an honorary one on the three men of “Foxcatcher“: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo.
Up for Best Actor are Oscar frontrunner Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) and supporting contender Ethan Hawke (“Boyhood”) as well as Oscar Issac (“A Most Violent Year”), Bill Hader (“The Skeleton Twins”) and “Whiplash lead Miles Teller (his co-star J.K. Simmons, who sits atop our Supporting Actor Oscar chart, was snubbed).
Two equally strong Oscar frontrunners – lead Julianne Moore (“Still Alice“) and supporting player Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) — are pitted against each other for Best Actress. The other nominees are: Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Beyond the Lights”), Scarlett Johnansson (“Under the Skin”) and Mia Wasikowska (“Tracks”).
The breakthrough acting nominees are: Riz Ahmed (“Nightcrawler”), Macon Blair (“Blue Ruin”), Ellar Coltrane (“Boyhood”), Joey King (“Wish I Was Here”), Jenny Slate (“Obvious Child” and Tessa Thompson (“Dear White People”)
Breakthrough Director contenders are: Ana Lily Amirpour (“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”), James Ward Byrkit (“Coherence”), Dan Gilroy (“Nightcrawler”), Eliza Hittman (“It Felt Like Love”) and Justin Simien (“Dear White People”)
And the Best Documentary nominees are: “Actress,” “Citizen Four,” “Life Itself,” “Manakamana” and “Point and Shoot.”
The nominees for each category are decided by separate juries of “distinguished film critics, journalists, festival programmers, and film curators.” Winners will be decided by “separate juries of writers, directors, actors, producers, editors, and others directly involved in making films.”
Last year, eventual Oscar champ “12 Years a Slave” lost this Best Picture prize to “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which went on to be snubbed by the academy. The award for Best Actor went to Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers’ Club”) who then claimed the Oscar. The Best Actress trophy went to Brie Larson for “Short Term 12,” who did not reap an Oscar bid. The breakthrough prize went to Michael B. Jordan over, among others, eventual Oscar champ Lupita Nyongo (“12 Years a Slave”). This marked the first year that there was no ensemble award.
Two years ago, “Moonrise Kingdom” won Best Feature but was snubbed at the Oscars while “Your Sister’s Sister” took Best Ensemble. In 2011, “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. And in 2010, “Winter’s Bone” won Best Feature and Ensemble.
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