Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Boyhood" and "Birdman" Lead This Year's Gotham Awards Nominations

Left to right: Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke and Lorelai Linklater in Boyhood
Today marked the release of the nominees for the Gotham Independent Film Awards. Much like The Spirit Awards, it sets out to recognize the big talents in independent cinema with awards honoring acting, directing, and breakout achievements. One of the noteworthy reasons that I bring it up is that many of them have already been praised here on The Oscar Buzz. While there's a chance that a few may not make it further into the race, it is a welcomed sign to see so many great films making it in a very impressive year for film. The following is a look at the nominees as well as varying thoughts on the selections as well as back links to various articles.

Best Feature

Love Is Strange

Thoughts: I have seen all except Birdman. With that said, I am really impressed with this line-up, as three of them are already in my Top 10 for the year. Yes, the names are a little familiar, but I am simply glad that they're recognized in some capacity during awards season. While I feel like Boyhood is likely to benefit most from this nomination, I do hope that there's some muster for THe Grand Budapest Hotel to make it into the Best Picture race at the Academy Awards. It came out possibly too early for consideration, but it more than deserves it. Under the Skin is another meditative masterpiece. But still, this is Boyhood's win, unless Birdman becomes a surprising hit.

Best Documentary

Point and Shoot

Thoughts: I have only seen Life Itself. However, I feel like that film is going to slide by on it being a loving tribute to a man who loved movies. It is pretty good, but the initial enthusiasm since its release has faded in my mind. Also, Citizenfour has been racking up a lot of attention in the past few weeks, so it is likely going to win on the grounds of being more important.

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night - Ana Lily Amirpour
Coherence - James Ward Byrkit
Nightcrawler - Dan Gilroy
It Felt Like Love - Eliza Hittman
Dear White People - Justin Simien

Thoughts: I have seen two of them and am curious to check out Nightcrawler, which has gotten a lot of great reviews. Also, when paired with Jake Gyllenhaal's other crazy movie Enemy, it is a great year for him. While I found It Felt Like Love to be a crasser version of Palo Alto, I think it is endearing enough to be on here and an interesting choice. However, unless the other two films are masterpieces, I have been riding the Dear White People trailer since I saw it in January and am glad to see it finally getting some attention publicly.

Best Actor

The Skeleton Twins - Bill Hader
Boyhood - Ethan Hawke
A Most Violent Year - Oscar Isaac
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) - Michael Keaton
Whiplash - Miles Teller

Thoughts: I have only seen Boyhood, though have been curious to see these other films. While it seems a little strange that Ethan Hawke is nominated over Ellar Coltrane, it is great to see the film show up here. I still think that Michael Keaton will take the top prize because with Birdman being considered his comeback vehicle and the directorial style being very much hyped, it is probably going to shine as a favorite. Also, while I don't get the Whiplash love (probably because I haven't seen it), it is great to see it show up here.

*The nominating panel is also awarding a special Gotham Jury Award to Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum for their work in Foxcatcher.

Best Actress

Boyhood - Patricia Arquette
Beyond the Lights - Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Still Alice - Julianne Moore
Under the Skin - Scarlett Johansson
Tracks - Mia Wasikowska

Thoughts: I have seen two and I am particularly excited to see Patricia Arquette in the race. If anyone from Boyhood stands a chance at the Oscars, it is her. Her work in the film is phenomenal. However, I have heard great things about Julianne Moore's work and while I don't know much about Still Alice, it is the rumored surprise nominee of the season to the point that many think that it can get her the actual statue. I'm putting my dukes up for Moore upsetting the category and getting Still Alice into the conversation.

Breakthrough Actor

Nightcrawler - Riz Ahmed
Blue Ruin - Macon Blair
Boyhood  - Ellar Coltrane
Wish I Was Here  - Joey King
Obvious Child - Jenny Slate
Dear White People - Tessa Thompson

Thoughts: A decent line-up. I have seen four of them and I have to admit that of them, Ellar Coltrane is likely to take it, if just on the novelty of being dedicated to the film for 12 years. Still, Tessa Thompson's nomination is highly welcomed because it was a charismatic performance and while I don't know exactly how it is a breakthrough, it definitely left an impression on me. I don't agree with Jenny Slate, though mostly because I don't get her crass humor. It does seem funny to see Joey King on here in a Zach Braff movie that bombed, mostly because I felt that Fargo did a better job of breaking her out to the mainstream audiences.

The ceremony will be presented by the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) and will be held on December 1 at Cipriani Wall Street in downtown Manhattan. Tilda Swinton, Bennett Miller and Ted Sarandos are set to also be honored with career tributes.

What are your thoughts on the nominees? Who do you think will win?

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