‘Moonrise Kingdom,’ ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ win Gotham Awards

Moonrise Kingdom” got a big boost to its Oscar campaigns by winning Best Feature at the 22nd annual Gotham Independent Film Awards Monday. This Wes Anderson charmer edged out, among others, “The Master.”

That character study by Paul Thomas Anderson debuted to great acclaim at the Venice filmfest, winning two awards including Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman. However, in recent weeks, it has fallen from favor among our Experts. Phoenix, a one-time Best Actor frontrunner, gave an interview in which he bemoaned the need to campaign for an Oscar while Anderson, who won at Venice, has seen his Best Director odds lengthen dramatically. 

Eligibility for Best Film at the Gotham Awards was restricted to American films with a distributor that were made with “a economy of means.” Compare that criterion to the rival Indie Spirits, which announce nominations Tuesday; they consider only those films made for $20 million or less.

The other Gotham nominees were “The Loneliest Planet” and “Middle of Nowhere.” That latter film won Best Breakthrough Performance for Emayatzy Corinealdi. Among those she defeated was  Quvenzhane Wallis, the child star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” who is a leading contender for Best Actress at the Oscars, as well as Mike Birbiglia (“Sleepwalk with Me”), Emayatzy Corinealdi (“Middle of Nowhere”), Thure Lindhardt (“Keep the Lights On”) and Melanie Lynskey (“Hello, I Must Be Going”).

“Beasts” helmer Benh Zeitlin won Breakthrough Director over Zal Batmanglij (“Sound of My Voice”), Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky (“Francine”), Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin (“Now, Forager”) and Antonio Méndez Esparza for (“Aquí y Allá”). He also won the inaugural Bingham Ray prize, named for the late indie film champion. 

Moonrise Kingdom,” as well as Oscar contender “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Safety Not Guaranteed” lost Best Ensemble to “Your Sister’s Sister.” 

Best Documentary went to “How to Survive a Plague” over “Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present,” “Room 237” and “The Waiting Room.”

 And the Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You went to  “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty” over “Kid-Thing,””Red Flag,” “Sun Don’t Shine” and “Tiger Tail in Blue.”

The nominees for each category were decided by separate juries of “distinguished film critics, journalists, festival programmers, and film curators.” The winners were decided by “separate juries of writers, directors, actors, producers, editors, and others directly involved in making films.” 

Last year, “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 went on to reap a Best Picture Oscar bid. 

Also feted at the gala at Ciprianis were actors Marion Cotillard and Matt Damon, director David O. Russell and Participant Media founder Jeff Skoll

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