Gotham Award Noms: 'Get Out' Gets a Boost

Awards voters are about to be inundated with screenings and screeners of the new fall awards hopefuls, which makes it all the more significant that this year's Gotham Awards nominations, which were released today, championed Jordan Peele's Get Out, the critical darling and commercial breakthrough of 2017's first quarter. The dark comedy about racial tensions in America led the field with four noms, one more than Greta Gerwig's solo directorial debut Lady Bird and Kogonada's Columbus. That will help to keep it part of the conversation through at least Nov. 27, the night the 27th Gotham Awards ceremony will take place at Cipriani Wall Street. (Get Out producer Jason Blum will also receive a special tribute that night.) And a win there in the category of best feature — the Gothams' equivalent of best picture — would make a major statement.

As I warn every year, Gotham noms are determined by juries comprised of only a small number of individuals (five each this year). Many of those individuals are extremely smart and accomplished — such as THR's chief theater critic David Rooney, who served on the committee that determined the nominees for best feature, best screenplay and best breakthrough director — but that doesn't negate the fact that the noms are therefore not necessarily reflective of anything beyond those groups' tastes, even if the IFP's nominations press release says the event "signals the kick-off to the film awards season."

At the same time, credit must be given where credit is due. In both of the last two years, the Gotham Awards was the only ceremony with a single top prize that gave that prize to the films that subsequently won the best picture Oscar: Spotlight and Moonlight. Coincidence? Maybe. But the media coverage of a Gotham win certainly didn't hurt those films' chances.

Also getting a boost today: Good Time and I, Tonya, which landed slots in the best feature category alongside the widely expected Call Me by Your Name, The Florida Project and Get Out. They also got lead acting noms for stars Robert Pattinson and Margot Robbie, respectively.

A somewhat surprising omission from the best feature category: Lady Bird, the solo feature directorial debut of indie darling Gerwig. She, however, is nominated for the Bingham Ray breakthrough director award alongside Get Out's Peele, Columbus' Kogonada, Menashe's Joshua Z. Weinstein and Novitiate's Maggie Betts, and for best screenplay alongside Get Out's Peele, Columbus' Kogonada, The Big Sick's Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, and Brad's StatusMike White.

The Gothams has one category for actors and and another for actresses, but they don't distinguish between lead and supporting players, which can result in some confusion. This year, for instance, the Gothams nominated The Florida Project's Willem Dafoe, who is being promoted for supporting actor elsewhere, alongside Good Time's Pattinson, The Disaster Artist's James Franco, Get Out's Daniel Kaluuya, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)'s Adam Sandler and Lucky's late Harry Dean Stanton. Similarly, Marjorie Prime's Lois Smith, who's being promoted as a supporting actress elsewhere, is nominated beside I, Tonya's Robbie, I Don't Feel at Home in This World's Melanie Lynskey, Columbus' Haley Lu Richardson and Lady Bird's Saoirse Ronan).

Things are perhaps even further complicated by the existence at the Gothams of a breakthrough actor award, which is chosen by a different jury than the other acting awards, but which nevertheless tends not to overlap with them, suggesting the possibility of some coordination. Call Me by Your Name's Timothee Chalamet is nominated for best breakthrough actor — alongside Mudbound's Mary J. Blige, Beach Rats' Harris Dickinson, It Comes at Night's Kelvin Harrison and The Florida Project's Brooklynn Prince — but if that breakthrough actor category didn't exist it's hard to imagine that he wouldn't have been nominated for best actor.

One Gothams category with which virtually nobody ever quibbles is best documentary. This year's nominees, unsurprisingly, include Ex Libris — The New York Public Library, from the legendary observer of institutions Frederick Wiseman, and Yance Ford's deeply personal Strong Island. The other three nominees — less expected, but comparably worthy — are Rat Film, Whose Streets? and The Work.

Mudbound, the Netflix drama directed by Dee Rees, will receive a special ensemble award.

There were also some surprising shutouts — most notably Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water, which has been considered a frontrunner for the best picture Oscar, but also A Ghost Story, David Lowery's eccentric critics' darling; The Hero, starring Sam Elliott; Richard Gere for Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer; and Beatriz at Dinner's Salma Hayek.

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