Alexander Payne's The Descendants, Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life and Sean Durkin's Martha Marcy May Marlene are among the top nominees for the Gotham Independent Film Awards, one of the two major film awards devoted to independent film.
In nominations announced on Thursday morning by the Independent Filmmaker Project, contenders in the Best Feature category are Beginners, The Descendants, Meek's Cutoff, Take Shelter and The Tree of Life.
In the Breakthrough Performance category, the year's biggest breakout, Jessica Chastain, fell through the cracks (too many performances to choose from?), though she was included in the Best Ensemble Performance category for Take Shelter. Nominated individual performers are Felicity Jones in Like Crazy, Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene, Harmony Santana in Gun Hill Road, Shailene Woodley in The Descendants and Jacob Wysocki in Terri.
Nominees in the Breakthrough Director category included Sean Durkin for Martha Marcy May Marlene, Mike Cahill for Another Earth and Vera Farmiga for Higher Ground, while competitors for the Ensemble Performance award include the casts of Beginners, The Descendants, Margin Call, Martha Marcy May Marlene and Take Shelter.
Best Documentary nominees are The Interrupters, Better This World, Bill Cunningham New York, Hell and Back Again and The Woodmans.
Overall, two Fox Searchlight films, The Descendants and Martha Marcy May Marlene, led with three nominations in the six announced categories. Beginners and Take Shelter each received two nods.
Winners will be announced at the Gotham ceremony in New York City on November 28. The show will also include career tributes to actress Charlize Theron, actor Gary Oldman, director David Cronenberg and executive Tom Rothman.
Unlike the more visible Film Independent Spirit Awards, which have set criteria to determine what constitutes an independent film, the Gothams consider each film on a case-by-case basis and use vague definitions.
To be eligible, for instance, a film must be made with an economy of means, a looser qualifier than the Spirit Awards rule restricting entries to films made for less than $20 million.
It must be the result of filmmaking with a point of view … where the vision of an individual director, producer writer or writer/director is abundantly evident, and where the film cannot be classically defined as a 'work for hire.'
A couple of the nominated films, including The Tree of Life and Midnight in Paris, will not qualify for the Spirit Awards.
Last year, Gotham nominees Black Swan, Winter's Bone and The Kids Are All Right all received Oscar Best Picture nominations, a record overlap.