’12 Years a Slave’ Leads Gotham Awards Nominations

“Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Before Midnight” are also competing in top category; “Nebraska” and “Mud” were shut out entirely

'12 Years a Slave' director Steve McQueen calls his story a film about love

“12 Years a Slave” led all films with three nominations in six categories for the 2013 Gotham Independent Film Awards, the Independent Filmmaker Project announced on Thursday morning.

In the Best Feature category, Steve McQueen’s harrowing drama will go up against two other possible Oscar contenders, the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” and Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight,” and two lesser-known but acclaimed indie entries, David Lowery’s “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” and Shane Carruth’s “Upstream Color.”

Also read: ’12 Years a Slave’ Review: A Captivating, Harrowing Historical Horror Show (Video)

Films recognized in other categories but not in Best Feature included “Fruitvale Station,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “All Is Lost,” “Blue Jasmine,” “Short Term 12” and “The Spectacular Now.”

Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” didn’t receive any nominations, and neither did a number of other presumed contenders, including Jeff Nichols’ “Mud,” Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha” and Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond the Pines.”

The Gothams’ qualifying criteria are somewhat nebulous, specifying that films must be made with “an economy of means,” must be “filmmaking with a point of view” and must be American-made. “12 Years” apparently satisfied the last condition because director McQueen’s British-ness was counterbalanced by a number of American producers, including Brad Pitt.

“12 Years” had three nominations in the six Gotham categories: Best Feature, Best Actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor and Breakthrough Actor for Lupita Nyong’o.  “Blue Caprice,” “Concussion,” “Fruitvale Station,” “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Upstream Color” received two nominations each. (A seventh category consists of three finalists for a grant for women filmmakers.)

amy_seimetzThe indie actress-writer-director Amy Seimetz (right) landed two nominations on her own for different films: She was nominated for starring in “Upstream Color,” and for directing “Sun Don’t Shine.”

Also read: ‘Upstream Color’ Review: You’ll Be Shocked, Repelled and Confused – but Never Bored

The Gothams, which will be presented on December at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, are the East Coast-based counterpart to the Film Independent Spirit Awards. But they take place early in awards season, while the Spirit Awards are handed out the day before the Oscars.

With a New York slant and idiosyncratic tastes, the Gothams generally overlap slightly with the Spirit Awards and less with the Oscars. Three years ago, three Gotham Best Feature nominees went on to Oscar nominations, a record. Two films were nominated by both groups the following year, but none last year.

“The Hurt Locker” is the only film to win the top award at both the Gothams and the Oscars.

This year, the Gothams eliminated the acting ensemble award and split the Best Actor award into Best Actor and Best Actress. Best Actor nominees are Ejiofor, Oscar Isaac for “Inside Llewyn Davis,” Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club,” Robert Redford for “All Is Lost” and Isaiah Washington for “Blue Caprice.”

Best Actress nominees are Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine,” Scarlett Johansson for “Don Jon,” Brie Larson for “Short Term 12,” Seimetz for “Upstream Color” and Shailene Woodley for “The Spectacular Now.”

A third acting category, Breakthrough Actor, saluted Nyong’o, Dane DeHaan in “Kill Your Darlings,” Kathryn Hahn in “Afternoon Delight,” Michael B. Jordan in “Fruitvale Station” and Robin Weigert in “Concussion.”

The Gothams do not present a Best Director award, but they do give one in the Breakthrough Director category, whose nominees are Ryan Coogler for “Fruitvale Station,” Adam Leon for “Gimme the Loot,” Alexandre Moors for “Blue Caprice,” Stacie Passon for “Concussion” and Seimetz for “Sun Don’t Shine.”

Best Documentary nominees are “The Act of Killing,” “The Crash Reel,” “First Cousin Once Removed,” “Let the Fire Burn” and “Our Nixon.

Also read: Here They Are, All 151 Oscar-Qualifying Documentaries (Exclusive)

The nominees were chosen not by a body of voters, but by three separate panels of critics, festival programmers. For Best Feature and Breakthrough Director, the committee consisted of critics Scott Foundas, Eric Kohn, Christy Lemire, Andrew O’Hehir and Dana Stevens.

The jury for the acting categories consisted of critics Justin Chang, Lisa Kennedy, David Rooney and Leah Rozen, and Toronto Film Festival artistic director Noah Cowan. The documentary committee was editor Cynthia Fuchs and festival programmers Charlotte Cook, Ben Fowlie, Mike Maggiore and Sky Sitney.

The nominees:

Best Feature

12 Years a Slave
Steve McQueen, director; Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Anthony Katagas, producers. (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
David Lowery, director; Tony Halbrooks, James M. Johnston, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Amy Kaufman, Cassian Elwes, producers (IFC Films)

Before Midnight
Richard Linklater, director; Richard Linklater, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Sara Woodhatch, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)

Inside Llewyn Davis
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, directors; Scott Rudin, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, producers (CBS Films)

Upstream Color
Shane Carruth, director; Shane Carruth, Casey Gooden, Ben LeClair, producers. (erbp)

Best Documentary

The Act of Killing
Joshua Oppenheimer, director; Signe Byrge, Joshua Oppenheimer, producers (Drafthouse Films)

The Crash Reel
Lucy Walker, director; Julian Cautherly, Lucy Walker, producers (HBO Documentary Films)

First Cousin Once Removed
Alan Berliner, director and producer (HBO Documentary Films)

Let the Fire Burn
Jason Osder, director and producer (Zeitgeist Films)

Our Nixon
Penny Lane, director; Brian L. Frye, Penny Lane, producers (Cinedigm and CNN Films)

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company)
Adam Leon for Gimme the Loot (Sundance Selects)
Alexandre Moors for Blue Caprice (Sundance Selects)
Stacie Passon for Concussion (RADiUS-TWC)
Amy Seimetz for Sun Don’t Shine (Factory 25)

Best Actor
Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films)
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features)
Robert Redford in All Is Lost (Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions)
Isaiah Washington in Blue Caprice (Sundance Selects)

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures Classics)
Scarlett Johansson in Don Jon (Relativity Media)
Brie Larson in Short Term 12 (Cinedigm)
Amy Seimetz in Upstream Color (erbp)
Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now (A24)

Breakthrough Actor
Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings (Sony Pictures Classics)
Kathryn Hahn in Afternoon Delight (The Film Arcade and Cinedigm)
Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company)
Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Robin Weigert in Concussion (RADiUS-TWC)

Spotlight on Women Filmmakers ‘Live the Dream’ Grant
Afia Nathaniel, director, Dukhthar
Gita Pullapilly, director, Beneath the Harvest Sky
Deb Shoval, director, AWOL