The Gotham awards used to come so early in the race no one paid much attention to them. Back then, the National Board of Review seemed too early. Now that the race is being covered by way too many people and the news media is hungry for any tidbit about anything that seems substantial, the focus on these early awards is even more intense. The National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics don’t even announce until December. These were sometimes deemed premature but what they can do is launch a film pretty nicely into the race. The New York Film Critics did that with American Hustle. The National Board of Review did that with American Sniper.
The Gothams, though, are a different ball of wax. They kind of orbit on their own planet that exists in the same universe as the Spirit Awards. The Spirit Awards, lately, are looking a lot more like Oscar. But the Gothams never really have. Still, this morning’s announcement does indicate a few key things.
First, let’s look at Gotham’s short history.
Last year’s nominees mirrored the Oscars pretty well because the Oscars, last year, were more independent leaning than usual. I do not think that will be the case this year.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Love Is Strange
Under the Skin
Point and Shoot
Michael Keaton – Birdman
Bill Hader – The Skeleton Twins
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Oscar Isaac – A Most Violent Year
Miles Teller – Whiplash
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Beyond the Lights
Scarlett Johansson – Under the Skin
Mia Wasikowska – Tracks
You can clearly see how much more brave and “young” seeming their choices are. But the year before, you can see the mismatch even more clearly, with one or two standouts.
The year prior:
Inside Llewyn Davis
12 Years a Slave
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
The Act of Killing
The Crash Reel
First Cousin Once Removed
Let the Fire Burn
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis
Robert Redford – All Is Lost
Isaiah Washington – Blue Caprice
Brie Larson – Short Term 12
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Scarlett Johansson – Don Jon
Amy Seimetz – Upstream Color
Shailene Woodley – The Spectacular Now
So this is what you’re looking for, mainly. If the Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress are to come from an independent film, they should show up at the Gothams. This is not strictly true, of course. They can serve as a boost to a film that needs it, or an early indication of something that’s going to win the whole way through the race.
Last year’s oddity of having Boyhood and Birdman as the main frontrunners did warp things slightly but this is by no means the norm. The film industry is always better when the independent film awards like the Gothams and the Spirits part ways with Oscar because they are designed to do different things. Lately, though, the Oscar race has had to rely on independent filmmakers to tell the kinds of films they like – character driven dramas. This year, the studios are offering more of those up so I suspect the race will lean more heavily in that direction and away from independents.
So what got a boost?
Diary of a Teenage Girl leads the pack – that could lead to some kind of presence at the Oscars, either for Actress for Bel Polowy, Supporting for Kristin Wiig or screenplay for Marielle Heller.
Carol gets a major boost and may be the only one to join Spotlight at the Oscars for Best Picture. Tangerine gets some big time publicity which could also help boost that film. I suspect all three of these will also do well at the Spirit Awards.
Paul Dano could be seen in Supporting Actor at the Oscars, which would be great. Since the Gothams don’t have “supporting” that explains why Elizabeth Banks did not make it. The real action is in Best Actress, where Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, and perhaps Lily Tomlin all could use this boost.
Since Brie Larson is currently our predicted WINNER for Best Actress, seeing her show up here only confirms that prediction.
One final thing to note – the Gothams were basically judged by many of the same kind of individuals who will make up the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics. They have budgetary limitations here on what kinds of films they could nominate but you can see their preferences and what they’re leaning towards pretty clearly. I do not know whether there will be crossover when the critics on each coast get to their own awards.