'Nelson' is top nom at Gothams

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Ryan Fleck's "Half Nelson" leads the list of nominees for the 2006 Gotham Awards, announced Monday in New York by the Independent Film Project and its executive director Michelle Byrd.

Released by ThinkFilm, the drama about the bond between a drug-addicted junior high school teacher and one of his students picked up noms as best feature, for director Ryan Fleck as breakthrough director and for star Ryan Gosling as breakthrough actor.

While the IFP, in search of what it describes as "authentic voices" in American movies, spread its nominations far and wide, a number of films garnered two nominations each. They are Paramount Vantage's "Babel," Fox Searchlight's "Little Miss Sunshine" and director So Yong Kim's "In Between Days," which does not yet have a domestic distributor.

In addition to "Half Nelson," produced by Jamie Patricof, Alex Orlovsky, Lynette Howell, Anna Boden and Rosanne Korenberg, the nominees for best feature are: Warner Bros. Pictures' crime thriller "The Departed," directed by Martin Scorsese and produced by Brad Pitt, Brad Grey and Graham King; New Line Cinema's domestic drama "Little Children," directed by Todd Field and produced by Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa and Field; Sony Pictures' period confection "Marie Antoinette," directed by Sofia Coppola and produced by Ross Katz and Coppola; and Kino International's buddy art film "Old Joy," directed by Kelly Reichardt and produced by Neil Kopp, Lars Knudsen, Jay Van Hoy and Anish Savjani.

The Gothams, which will be presented on Nov. 29 at New York's Pier Sixty at the Chelsea Piers, also will recognize both Kate Winslet and Edward Norton with 2006 Gotham Tributes. Winslet is currently appearing on screen in "Little Children," while Norton is starring in three indie features this year — "Down in the Valley," "The Illusionist" and the upcoming "The Painted Veil."

The Gothams also will present its first annual World Cinema Tribute this year, with that kudos earmarked to go to a friendly trio of Mexican directors — Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Each has helmed an upcoming 2006 release: Cuaron's "Children of Men," del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" and Inarritu's "Babel."

As previously announced, the Gotham Awards will present a tribute to Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, who head 2929 Entertainment, which is involved in film production, through 2929 Prods. and HDNet Films; distribution, through Magnolia Pictures, which handles theatrical releases and home video, and the high-definition cable channels HDNet and HDNet Movies; and exhibition, through Landmark Theatres.

"We are pleased that this year's tribute honorees represent a diverse group of individuals all working at the peak of their craft," Byrd said.

For best documentary, the nominees are: "Deliver Us From Evil," directed by Amy Berg and produced by Berg, Frank Donner, Hermas Lassalle and Matthew Cooke (a Lionsgate release); "Following Sean," directed by Ralph Arlyck and produced by Arlyck and Malcolm Pullinger (Shadow Releasing); "An Inconvenient Truth," directed by Davis Guggenheim and produced by Laurie David, Lawrence Bender and Scott Z. Burns (Paramount Classics); "Iraq in Fragments," directed by James Longley and produced by Longley and Yahya Sinno (Typecast Releasing in association with HBO Documentary Films); and "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple," directed by Stanley Nelson (Seventh Art Releasing).

In the category of best ensemble cast, the nominees are: "Babel," Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho, Adriana Barraza, Rinko Kikuchi, Said Tarchani and Boubker Ait El Caid; "For Your Consideration," Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, Christopher Guest, John Michael Higgins, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Michael McKean, Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey, Harry Shearer and Fred Willard; "Little Miss Sunshine," Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin and Alan Arkin; "A Prairie Home Companion," Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, L.Q. Jones, Sue Scott and Tim Russell; and "Shortbus," Sook-Yin Lee, Paul Dawson, Lindsay Beamish, PJ DeBoy, Raphael Barker, Peter Stickles, Jay Brannan and Justin Bond.

Nominees for breakthrough director are: Ramin Bahrani for "Man Push Cart"; Laurie Collyer, "Sherrybaby"; Ryan Fleck, "Half Nelson"; So Yong Kim, "In Between Days"; and James Marsh for "The King."

Nominees for breakthrough actor are: Abigail Breslin in "Little Miss Sunshine"; Shareeka Epps, "Half Nelson"; Melinda Page Hamilton, "Sleeping Dogs Lie"; Rinko Kikuchi, "Babel"; and Channing Tatum, "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints."

The awards nominating committees considered 148 films in selecting this year's nominees. Five separate juries will decide the ultimate winners.
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