Not even the most reckless Gold Derby Expert predicts Carrie Coon will land a Best Actress nomination for her widely acclaimed work in “The Nest.” But that could change if the long-time character actress receives a bump at Monday’s Gotham Independent Film Awards, where Coon is among the nominees for Best Actress.
That isn’t to suggest the Gotham Awards are any kind of reliable predictor for future awards-season success. The New York-based ceremony sources its nominees from select groups of film critics, journalists, festival programmers, and film curators, and the winners are chosen by filmmakers and performers. That broad spectrum of voices means that for every predictive choice (recent Best Picture winners at the Gothams include “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” and “Birdman”) there’s an out-of-left-field selection like when Bel Powley won Best Actress for “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” over future Oscar nominees Cate Blanchett (for “Carol”) and Brie Larson (the eventual Academy Award winner for “Room”).
But a win at the Gotham Awards can help establish contender bona fides. At last year’s ceremony, Awkwafina won Best Actress for “The Farewell,” a victory that buttressed her candidacy and led into the rising star’s eventual Golden Globes triumph.
It’s in this context that Coon could compete. Her performance in IFC Films’ “The Nest” has already been widely touted as a career-high — not just because of the work but because the Sean Durkin film provided Coon with a chance to play the lead.
“The first thing that stood out was that it was an offer, that somebody wanted me to be a leading lady in a film. Which, if you’ve been following my career, you know that doesn’t always happen for me,” Coon told Gold Derby last year. “There are very few scripts that are really about women that come out and there’s going to be the same sort of 10 or 12 women considered for those and I am not one of them.”
Then there’s the sense that the Gothams like to zig when awards season is telling its voters to zag — like when Powley won her Best Actress prize over more prominent contenders or two years ago when Toni Collette was awarded the honor for “Hereditary,” besting eventual Oscar nominee Glenn Close in the process. Coon is competing against prohibitive Oscars favorite Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”) on Monday night — and while it’s easy to imagine a scenario where the Gothams simply coronate McDormand for yet another one of her impeccable performances, recent history suggests observers should anticipate another outcome.
All of which could put Coon into the conversation in a more serious manner. She currently has 100/1 odds at Gold Derby in both the Academy Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards races. She’s facing a stacked lineup of Best Actress competitors too, with McDormand, Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”), Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”), Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”), Kate Winslet (“Ammonite”), and Meryl Streep (“The Prom”), among the many contenders for awards glory.
But her performance in “The Nest” continues to generate some nascent buzz on social media as more people see the film. “Coon gets to play the character who drifts into complete breakdown territory, and it’s terrifying to watch her go down the rabbit hole,” Deadline’s awards expert Pete Hammond wrote in his September review of “The Nest,” urging readers to not forget Coon or her co-star Jude Law come awards season.
Maybe they won’t — especially if the Gothams bestow her with a Best Actress win. After all, Coon has frequently been embraced as a critical favorite and awards contender before, thanks to her standout work on HBO’s “The Leftovers” and FX’s “Fargo.” It’s not a leap to suggest “The Nest” is the performance that stamps her as one of those “10 to 12 women” she cited in her Gold Derby chat, the kind of star who gets the plum lead roles in adult dramas that win Oscars. All she needs to start is a push from “The Nest.”
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