Gotham Awards Nominate ‘The Descendants,’ ‘Take Shelter’

Nominated performers include Elizabeth Olsen, Shailene Woodley, Felicity Jones

Last Updated: October 20, 2011 @ 8:16 AM

Alexander Payne's "The Descendants," Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" and Sean Durkin's "Martha Marcy May Marlene" are among the top nominees for the Gotham Independent Film Awards, one of the two major film awards devoted to independent film.

The DescendantsIn nominations announced on Thursday morning by the Independent Filmmaker Project, contenders in the Best Feature category are "Beginners," "The Descendants" (left), "Meek's Cutoff," "Take Shelter" and "The Tree of Life."

In the Breakthrough Performance category, the the year's biggest breakout, Jessica Chastain, fell through the cracks (too many performances to choose from?), though she was included in the Best Ensemble Performance category for "Take Shelter." Nominated individual performers are Felicity Jones in "Like Crazy," Elizabeth Olsen in "Martha Marcy May Marlene," Harmony Santana in "Gun Hill Road," Shailene Woodley in "The Descendants" and Jacob Wysocki in "Terri."

Nominees in the Breakthrough Director category included Sean Durkin for "Martha Marcy May Marlene," Mike Cahill for "Another Earth" and Vera Farmiga for "Higher Ground," while competitors for the Ensemble Performance award include the casts of "Beginners," "The Descendants," "Margin Call," "Martha Marcy May Marlene" and "Take Shelter."

Best Documentary nominees are "The Interrupters," "Better This World," "Bill Cunningham New York," "Hell and Back Again" and "The Woodmans."

Overall, two Fox Searchlight films, "The Descendants" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene," led with three nominations in the six announced categories. "Beginners" and "Take Shelter" each received two noms.

Winners will be announced at the Gotham ceremony in New York City on November 28. The show will also include career tributes to actress Charlize Theron, actor Gary Oldman, director David Cronenberg and executive Tom Rothman.

Unlike the more visible Film Independent Spirit Awards, which have set criteria to determine what constitutes an independent film, the Gothams consider each film on a case-by-case basis and use vague definitions.

To be eligible, for instance, a film must be made "with an economy of means," a looser qualifier than the Spirit Awards rule restricting entries to films made for less than $20 million.

It must be the result of "filmmaking with a point of view … where the vision of an individual director, producer writer or writer/director is abundantly evident, and where the film cannot be classically defined as a 'work for hire.'"

A couple of the nominated films, including "The Tree of Life" and "Midnight in Paris," will not qualify for the Spirit Awards.

Last year, Gotham nominees "Black Swan," "Winter's Bone" and "The Kids Are All Right" all received Oscar Best Picture nominations, a record overlap.

The nominees:

BEST FEATURE

"Beginners"
Mike Mills, director; Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Miranda de Pencier, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, producers (Focus Features)
"The Descendants"
Alexander Payne, director; Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
"Meek’s Cutoff"
Kelly Reichardt, director; Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani, Elizabeth Cuthrell, David Urrutia, producers (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
"Take Shelter"
Jeff Nichols, director; Tyler Davidson, Sophia Lin, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)
"The Tree of Life"
Terrence Malick, director; Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Grant Hill, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
 
BEST DOCUMENTARY

"Better This World"
Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega, directors; Katie Galloway, Kelly Duane de la Vega, Mike Nicholson, producers (Loteria Films, Picturebox, Motto Pictures and Passion Pictures; ITVS in association with American Documentary | POV)
"Bill Cunningham New York"
Richard Press, director; Philip Gefter, producer (Zeitgeist Films)
"Hell and Back Again"
Danfung Dennis, director; Mike Lerner, Martin Herring, producers (Docurama Films)
"The Interrupters"
Steve James, director; Alex Kotlowitz, Steve James, producers (The Cinema Guild)
"The Woodmans"
C Scott Willis, director; Neil Barrett, Jeff Werner, C Scott Willis, producers (Lorber Films; Kino Lorber, Inc.)
 
BEST ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE

"Beginners"
Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox, Mary Page Keller, Keegan Boos (Focus Features)
"The Descendants"
George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Nick Krause, Amara Miller, Mary Birdsong, Rob Huebel (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
"Margin Call"
Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Aasif Mandvi (Roadside Attractions)
"Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Elizabeth Olsen, Christopher Abbott, Brady Corbet, Hugh Dancy, Maria Dizzia, Julia Garner, John Hawkes, Louisa Krause, Sarah Paulson (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
"Take Shelter"
Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker, Ray McKinnon, Lisagay Hamilton, Robert Longstreet (Sony Pictures Classics)
 
BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR
 
Mike Cahill for "Another Earth" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Sean Durkin for "Martha Marcy May Marlene" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Vera Farmiga for "Higher Ground" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Evan Glodell for "Bellflower" (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Dee Rees for "Pariah" (Focus Features)
 
BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR
 
Felicity Jones in "Like Crazy" (Paramount Vantage)
Elizabeth Olsen in "Martha Marcy May Marlene" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Harmony Santana in "Gun Hill Road" (Motion Film Group)
Shailene Woodley in "The Descendants" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Jacob Wysocki in "Terri" (ATO Pictures)
 
BEST FILM  NOT PLAYING AT A THEATER NEAR YOU

"Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same"
Madeleine Olnek, director; Laura Terruso, Madeleine Olnek, producers
"Green"
Sophia Takal, director; Lawrence Michael Levine, producer
"The Redemption of General Butt Naked"
Eric Strauss, Daniele Anastasion, directors and producers
"Scenes of a Crime"
Blue Hadaegh & Grover Babcock, directors and producers
"Without"
Mark Jackson, director; Mark Jackson, Jessica Dimmock, Michael Requa, Jaime Keeling, producers
 
CALVIN KLEIN SPOTLIGHT ON WOMEN FILMMAKERS' "LIVE THE DREAM" GRANT ($25,000 cash award for an alumnus of IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs)
 
Jenny Deller, "Future Weather
Lucy Mulloy, director, "Una Noche"
Rola Nashef, director, "Detroit Unleaded"
 

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