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Gotham Awards Nominations: No Oscar Guarantee (or Even Likelihood)?

Robert Redford All Is LostGotham Awards 2013: Nominations don't necessarily mean Oscar 2014 recognition (photo: Gotham Award nominee Robert Redford in 'All Is Lost')

Nominations for the indie-oriented, East Coast-based Gotham Awards, announced a few days ago, don't necessarily translate into nominations for the equally indie-oriented, West Coast-based Spirit Awards. And they certainly don't mean the likelihood of a matching Academy Award nod. (See list of 2013 Gotham Awards nominations.)

In fact, in the last five years (2012-2008), of the 25 nominees in the Gotham Awards' Best Feature category, only seven films — or less than one in three — received matching Academy Award nominations despite the fact that since 2009 up to ten films have been eligible for the Best Picture Oscar.

Gotham Awards' Best Feature vs. Academy Awards' Best Picture

The Gotham Awards' Best Feature / Academy Awards' Best Picture "double nominees" were the following:

Last year, not a single Best Feature Gotham Award nominee received a Best Picture Oscar nod.

In the Best Documentary (Feature) category, out of the 25 Gotham nominees in the last five years, the seven matches at both the Gotham Awards and the Academy Awards were the following:

  • Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World
  • James Marsh's Man on Wire
  • Tia Lessin and Carl Deal's Trouble the Water
  • Robert Kenner's Food, Inc.
  • Charles H. Ferguson's Inside Job
  • Danfung Dennis' Hell and Back Again
  • David France's How to Survive a Plague

In the acting and directing categories, direct comparisons are impossible to make because until this year the Gotham Awards have shortlisted only "Breakthrough" performers and directors, and ensemble casts. Of the 26 Gotham-nominated "Breakthrough" actors in the last five years, only four have been shortlisted for an Academy Award:

Beasts of the Southern Wild's Behn Zeitlin is the Gothams' only Breakthrough Director to have been nominated for a Best Director Oscar.

Gotham Awards introduce Best Actor, Best Actress categories: Oscar 2014 possibilities

This year, things are different as the Gotham Awards have introduced Best Actor and Best Actress categories — besides the old Best Breakthrough Actor (male or female). Four of the Gothams' Best Actor nominees and one of the Best Actress nominees are, at least for now, strong possibilities for the Academy Awards:

In the other categories, nominees with solid Oscar chances at this stage are the following:

  • Breakthrough Director nominee Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station)
  • Breakthrough Actor nominees Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) and Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
  • Best Feature nominees Inside Llewyn Davis and 12 Years a Slave

Best Documentary category: Impossible to predict

The Best Documentary category is impossible to predict at this point, as eligibility for the Academy Awards depends on the films' release dates, theatrical settings, and published reviews in Los Angeles and New York City. Having said that, Joshua Oppenheimer's widely acclaimed Gotham nominee The Act of Killing — about Indonesia's death squads and their offspring, the right-wing paramilitary militia Pemuda Pancasila — has had screenings in both cities; if it fully meets the Academy's eligibility criteria, The Act of Killing would then be a strong Oscar 2014 contender.

Another possibility would be Jason Osner's Let the Fire Burn, which chronicles the events leading to the Philadelphia Police Department setting off an explosive in a building housing the radical black liberation group MOVE in 1985; the explosion and the ensuing catastrophic fire resulted in the deaths of eleven people, including six children.

The 2013 Gotham Award winners will be announced on December 2 at New York City's Cipriani Wall Street. The nominations for the 2014 Academy Awards will be announced on January 16.

Gotham Award nominee Robert Redford All Is Lost photo: Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.

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