How Will the Gotham Awards Shape This Year’s Unusual Oscars Race?
The awards landscape is saturated with multiple voting bodies and critics groups naming their favorite movies of the year. As is tradition, the IFP Gotham Awards will be the first to reveal its nominations on Nov. 12, celebrating its 30th anniversary. In the past, the group has been a viable launching pad for films that have gone on to win best picture at the Oscars such as “Birdman,” “Spotlight” and “Moonlight.” IFP is planning a hybrid show at its usual Cipriani Wall Street venue in January.
“Welcoming everyone back to New York is an important message to send,” IFP executive director Jeff Sharp tells me. “No one is sitting around twiddling their thumbs. It’s a remarkable time to sell projects and the heartbeat of independent cinema continues.”
Sharp, the producer of “Boys Don’t Cry” and “You Can Count On Me,” is prepping to begin production on “The Baccarat Machine” with Awkwafina as Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun, the most successful female gambler in modern history.
Since the Gothams’ eligibility period ends Feb. 28, 2021, mirroring the deadline set by the Academy, films with a budget of no more than $35 million can begin their awards run on the right foot at the New York event.
The combined total submissions received by the IFP was 505 over all its categories. Even factoring in the newly created international feature, which had 57 films entries, it’s still a net increase from 388 in 2019.
So what can be expected? With committees as small as five to six journalists and programmers for multiple categories, you can expect some left field citations breaking through. IFP Gothams shared the full eligibility list exclusively with Variety and some of the top awards contenders present include Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland,” George C. Wolfe’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Sofia Coppola’s “On the Rocks” and Regina King’s “One Night in Miami.”
Netflix has the most entries with 16 — among them, Charlie Kaufman’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” and Ramin Bahrani’s “The White Tiger.” IFC Films has just as many contenders, combined with its IFC Midnight banner where films like “The Nest,” “Relic” and “The Wretched” were submitted for consideration.
Focus Features has eight movies in the running, including the Sundance darling “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” still one of the best reviewed films of the 2020. Other features include “Kajillionaire” and “Promising Young Woman,” which can make some noise.
Other notables include Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari” (A24), Brandon Trost’s “An American Pickle” (HBO Max), Azazel Jacobs’ “French Exit” (Sony Pictures Classics) and Leigh Whannell’s “The Invisible Man” (Universal Pictures).
The international feature category’s English-language submissions, which are probably familiar to voters, include Neon’s “Ammonite,” starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan; Focus’ “Emma” with Anya Taylor-Joy; SPC’s “The Father” with Anthony Hopkins; Neon’s “The Lodge” with Riley Keough; and Searchlight Pictures’ “The Personal History of David Copperfield” with Dev Patel.
Despite qualifying budgets, Warner Bros. didn’t submit “The Way Back” with Ben Affleck or “Judas and the Black Messiah” with Daniel Kaluuya by the Oct. 1 deadline, the latter of which does not have a set release date, which is required in order to submit. Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Studios, STX Entertainment and Walt Disney also did not submit features due to either ineligibilities or not films not being completed in time.
“The Climb” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“First Cow” (A24)
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (Focus Features)
“Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures)
“Saint Frances” (Oscilloscope)
Jasmine Batchelor, “The Surrogate”
Radha Blank, “The 40-Year-Old Version”
Sidney Flanigan, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
Zora Howard, “Premature”
Jayme Lawson, “Farewell Amor”
Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director
“Night of the Kings”
“The Painted Bird”