Steve McQueen's slavery drama "12 Years a Slave" is leading this year's Gotham Awards with three nominations, for Best Feature, Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Breakthrough Actor (Lupita Nyong'o). This will boost its profile heading into the year-end awards corridor.
Meanwhile, the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" and Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color" each received two nominations, including Best Feature. This could help the Oscar perennials' "Inside Llewyn Davis," which is currently in the middle of the Oscar pack, while "Upstream Color" is more likely to be heading for Indie Spirit contention. The other two titles in that category are Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight" (Sony Pictures Classics) and David Lowery's "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" (IFC/Sundance Selects), two dark-horse indies who need more spotlights like this to have a fighting chance in this year's crowded Oscar field dominated by well-funded big-studio entries. The critics will likely give both a boost at year's end with multiple ten best lists and wins. Otherwise they too will score at the Indie Spirits.
Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station" and Stacie Passion's "Concussion" scored Bingham Ray Breakthrough Filmmaker nods, while the film's stars, Michael B. Jordan and Robin Weigert, respectively, earned Breakthrough Actor nominations. While deserving, Jordan has to be considered an Oscar longshot at this point in the congested race for Best Actor.
In terms of Best Actor, Isaiah Washington ("Blue Caprice"), Robert Redford ("All Is Lost"), Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas Buyers Club") and Oscar Isaac ("Inside Llewyn Davis") join Ejiofor. Except for Washington, whose Sundance hit has not been widely seen, these well-reviewed performances are likely Oscar contenders. For Best Actress, Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine"), Scarlett Johansson ("Don Jon"), Amy Seimetz ("Upstream Color"), Brie Larson ("Short Term 12") and Shailene Woodley ("The Spectacular Now") all got noms. All are Indie Spirit hopefuls, while Blanchett is a frontrunner for the Best Actress Oscar, and breakout Larson has earned raves but will remain a long shot unless she gets some well-deserved attention from critics groups.
Among documentaries, nominations like this help the overwhelmed Academy doc branch to winnow the field of what to see. The Gotham nominees are critics' darlings "Act of Killing," "Crash Reel" and "Our Nixon" along with less well-known "First Cousin Once Removed" and "Let The Fire Burn."
Full list of nominees after the jump.