November 28, 2011 3:49pm PT by Scott Feinberg
24 Hours of Awards Season Madness
The next 24 hours are going to be a whirlwind for the talent, publicists, and journalists on the awards beat.
Later this evening, the IFP will reveal the winners of this year's Gotham Awards (see the nominees here) during its annual dinner/awards ceremony at the historicCipriani Wall Street restaurant. Fox Searchlight's The Descendants and Martha Marcy May Marlene lead the field with three nods each, including best feature and best ensemble, the highest-profile categories. (Focus Features' Beginners also registered in those two.) The most interesting race to watch, however, is the one for best breakthrough actor, in which fast-rising stars Felicity Jones (Like Crazy), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene), and Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) will duke it out along with lower-profile competitors Harmony Santana (Gun Hill Road) and Jacob Wysocki (Terri). Five of the category's last seven winners went on to score Oscar nods. Finally, career tributes will be presented to four people with stakes in this year's Oscar race, and who have a great opportunity to make a strong impression before a lot of industry insiders with a good speech tonight: actor Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), actress Charlize Theron (Young Adult), director David Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method), and Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman and CEO Tom Rothman.
Tomorrow morning, Film Independent -- which, like IFP, is dedicated to celebrating independent films -- will announce the nominees for this year's Independent Spirit Awards, or "Indie Spirit Awards," which will be presented the night before the Oscars. A nod can provide a big boost to a little film, and this year's top contenders include the aforementioned The Descendants, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Beginners, and Like Crazy. Other films that have a shot at being recognized in one category or another -- and could really benefit from a moment in the spotlight -- include A Better Life, Drive, Higher Ground, Margin Call, Pariah, Rampart, Shame, Take Shelter, and Win Win.
Finally, tomorrow afternoon, the New York Film Critics Circle will vote to determine the winners of its 77th annual awards, and will Tweet its decisions as they are made. The group recently stirred up controversy by moving its voting date ahead of that of the National Board of Review (which has historically been the first critics' group to announce), forcing some studios to screen their films for NYFCC voters even earlier than usual, and precluding at least one not-yet-finished film, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, from being considered. It's incredibly hard to predict what the NYFCC will choose to celebrate, since their arcanevoting process often leads to stalemates that force compromise choices, as well as concerted efforts to spread recognition amongst many films. NYFCC choices also have limited value in terms of predicting what the Academy will do: although the two bodies have chosen the same best picture only 28 times, the NYFCC's winners in that category and the acting categories are almost always at least nominated for Oscars.This year, I gather from my sources that The Descendants, The Artist, Melancholia, Moneyball, We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Iron Lady, The Tree of Life, and Drive are particularly popular with many NYFCC members, so look for all or most of them to be represented in one category or another.
My guesses: The Descendants, The Artist, or The Tree of Life for best picture; Alexander Payne (The Descendants) or Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) for best director; George Clooney (The Descendants) or Jean Dujardin (The Artist) for best actor; Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia), or Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin) for best actress; Albert Brooks (Drive) or Christopher Plummer (Beginners) for best supporting actor; and Jessica Chastain (The Help and/or and/or Take Shelter and/or The Tree of Life and/or Coriolanus) or Octavia Spencer (The Help) for best supporting actress.