Jack Black bears gifts in "Bernie." Richard Linklater's… (Deana Newcomb / LAFF )
The Gotham Independent Film Awards, the first significant awards show of the season, announced its nominees today, giving a nice boost to Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" and Richard Linklater's "Bernie."
"Moonrise" and "Bernie" were both nominated for best feature and best ensemble, the only two films to pull off that double-dip. Two separate committees, primarily composed of film critics, handled those categories, indicating, if nothing else, that the movies could be prime players as critics groups begin announcing their awards in December.
"The Master," "The Loneliest Planet" and "Middle of Nowhere," Ava DuVernay's highly charged drama that has received strong notices since opening last week, were the three other films nominated for best feature.
THE ENVELOPE: The awards insider
Filling out the ensemble slate were Toronto International Film Festival audience award winner "Silver Linings Playbook," along with "Safety Not Guaranteed" and "Your Sister's Sister."
The fact that Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" didn't receive an ensemble nomination, despite waves of critical praise for its cast, may seem surprising. But as Variety critic Peter Debruge, who served on the ensemble committee, notes, the movie didn't quite fit the category's mandate of honoring films in the spirit of director Robert Altman's work, where it is impossible to identify a clear lead.
"There's also the sense that, like the Independent Spirit Awards, the Gothams are designed to celebrate indie work, and movies that have a lot of attention and momentum may suffer because of their perceived profile," Debruge says. "A movie like 'Bernie' has three strong leads, but what's really interesting is the unique way Linklater used the people of the town. That made it a natural fit there."
"All the films take really different approaches," adds Indiewire critic Eric Kohn, who also served on the ensemble committee. "They cut across genres and use their actors in innovative ways."
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" was notably absent from the two categories. But Benh Zeitlin did receive a nomination for breakthrough director, and its young star, Quvenzhané Wallis, won a nod for breakthrough performance.
"'Beasts' was a subject of real debate in our group," says MSN Movies critic Glenn Kenny, who served on the committee handling both feature and breakthrough director. "There was a feeling that it was a really outstanding film within the parameters it set for itself. But there was some questioning of the parameters it set for itself. Nominating Behn Zeitlin, but not the movie, seemed fair."
Among the high-profile indie movies absent: Sundance favorite "The Sessions," starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt, and the Richard Gere Wall Street potboiler "Arbitrage."
The 22nd annual Gotham Independent Film Awards will be held on Nov. 26 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York. Here's the full slate of nominees:
"The Loneliest Planet"
"Middle of Nowhere"
"How to Survive a Plague"
"Marina Abramavic: The Artist is Present"
"The Waiting Room"
Best Ensemble Performance
"Safety Not Guaranteed"
"Silver Linings Playbook"
"Your Sister's Sister"
Antonio Méndez Esparza, "Aquí y Allá (Here and There)"
Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Brian M. Cassidy, Melanie Shatzky, "Francine"
Jason Cortlund, Julia Halperin, "Now, Forager"
Zal Batmanglij, "Sound of My Voice"
Mike Birbiglia, "Sleepwalk with Me"
Emayatzy Corinealdi, "Middle of Nowhere"
Thure Lindhardt, "Keep the Lights On"
Melanie Lynskey, "Hello, I Must Be Going"
Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You
"An Oversimplification of Her Beauty"
"Sun Don't Shine"
"Tiger Tall in Blue"