Gotham Awards preview: ‘Manchester by the Sea’ vs. ‘Moonlight’

At Monday’s Gotham Awards, two Oscar frontrunners —  Kenneth Lonergan‘s domestic drama “Manchester by the Sea” and Barry Jenkins‘ coming-of-age tale “Moonlight” — face off for Best Feature. These kudos, bestowed by the Independent Filmmaker Project, honor the best in indie cinema. The other three contenders for the top prize are are Kelly Reichardt‘s triptych “Certain Women,” Richard Linklater‘s 1980s college comedy “Everybody Wants Some!!” and Jim Jarmusch‘s drama character study “Paterson.”

Gotham Award nominations 2016: Full list led by ‘Manchester by the Sea,’ ‘Moonlight’

 Now in its 26th year, the Gotham Awards isn’t known for predicting the Oscars. However, this kick-off to awards season did preview the motion picture academy in each of the last two years with Best Feature going to “Birdman” in 2014 and “Spotlight” in 2015. Prior to that, the Gothams had awarded the top prize to Oscar champ “The Hurt Locker” (2009) as well as Best Picture Oscar-nominees “Winter’s Bone” (2010) and “The Tree of Life” (2011).

“Manchester” also contends for Best Actor (Casey Affleck), Breakthrough Actor (Lucas Hedges) and Best Screenplay (Lonergan). It tells the story of a depressed custodian who returns to his hometown after the death of his brother to care for his teenage nephew, and was a hit at the Sundance, Telluride, Toronto and New York film festivals, before opening in limited release on Nov. 18.

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“Moonlight,” the critically acclaimed drama about a young black man’s coming of age, has one other competitive nomination, Best Screenplay (Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney). And the Gotham nominating panel for acting also decided to bestow a Jury Award to the film’s ensemble cast, whose “actors at all levels of experience give outstanding performances that speak eloquently to one another both within and across each chapter of the story.” The awarded “Moonlight” cast members are Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, Andre Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monae, Jaden Piner, Trevante Rhodes and Ashton Sanders.

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Nominees were chosen by committees of film critics and journalists, festival programmers and film curators. The winners will be determined by juries of filmmaking professionals including writers, directors, actors and producers.

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