Gotham Awards vs. Indie Spirits Awards: Battle of the two independent film kudos

The battle between the two top awards bestowed for independent films — the Indie Spirits and the Gotham Awards— continues anew with Thursday’s announcement of  nominations for the latter in New York. While the Indie Spirits consider only those films made for $20 million or less, the Gothams restrict eligibility to American films with a distributor that were made with “a economy of means.”

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The Gothams and Spirits used to be handed out by the East and West Coast branches of the same organization, the Independent Feature Project. Then in 2006, the Californians broke off from New York and three other IFP groups in 2006 and formed Film Independent.

The Gotham Awards split the acting categories into gender specific prizes that include supporting performances but have just a single breakthrough category. And while there is no longer a competitive Ensemble award, an honorary one is often bestowed, as it was this year to the cast of “Moonlight.” This year’s awards will be handed out on Nov. 28 at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan.

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The Spirits echo the Academy Awards (indeed these prizes will be handed out on Feb. 25, the day before the Oscars) with a full slate of acting awards as well as prizes for directing, writing, cinematography and foreign film. This year’s nominees will be revealed on Nov. 22, i.e., six days before the Gotham Awards take place.

At last year’s Gotham Awards, “Spotlight” won Best Picture and Best Screenplay plus honorary prizes for its acting ensemble and producer Steve Golin. And it was the big winner at the Spirit Awards as well, prevailing in all four of its bids — Best Picture, Best Director (Tom McCarthy), Best Screenplay and Best Editing — while the cast was feted with the Robert Altman award for Best Ensemble as well. It went on to win Oscars for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

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Be sure to make your Oscar predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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