Gotham Awards Nominees Hint at Unexpected Indie Contenders in the Oscars Race

Among the already-established indie favorites this year, Eighth Grade and Hereditary are underdogs that could go far.

The Favourite Emma Stone

Nominations for the 28th Annual IFP Gotham Awards were announced Thursday morning, with many of this year’s most highly-acclaimed films making the cut. Leading the pack were Yorgos Lanthimos’ edgy period piece The Favourite and Paul Schrader’s thought-provoking drama First Reformed, with three nominations each (including Best Feature), the prior earning a special Gotham Jury Award for its ensemble of Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz. If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins’ much-anticipated follow-up to Moonlight, is also nominated for Best Feature along with Breakthrough Actor for its leading actress, KiKi Layne.

These films seem well on the path to Oscar glory—after all, this was the case for last year’s big winners. Get Out, which ended up winning Best Screenplay at last year’s Gotham Awards, went on to win Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars. Call Me By Your Name (winner of last year’s Best Feature) and Lady Bird also received a considerable amount of nods at the Gotham Awards and earned the same at the Oscars. This year’s three indie favorites seem set up for the same fate, seeing as they’ve already each received a considerable amount of buzz.

But the Gotham Awards might also be paving the way for some new blood in the game. Bo Burnham’s coming-of-age dramedy Eighth Grade was a breakout hit this summer and was widely loved by critics and audiences alike. The film has been building up its own fair share of buzz ever since its premiere at Sundance but is perhaps a bit less of an obvious choice than the other indie frontrunners. However, Eighth Grade could easily follow a similar trajectory to that of Lady Bird last year and be an awards sleeper hit.

Perhaps even more unexpected than Eighth Grade ascending into the Oscar race is the potential brought to the table by Toni Collette‘s skin-crawling performance in Ari Aster’s summer horror flick Hereditary. Collette has received consistent praise for her role as Annie Graham, so much so that her name is still receiving some attention even now moving beyond fall festival season. Collette receiving an Oscar nomination for this role might seem like a bit of a long shot, largely because Hereditary is too much of a genre film to be much of a mainstream awards contender otherwise.

However, her nomination for Best Actress at the Gotham Awards could definitely be exactly what she needs to bring that buzz to the next level. If Collette were to actually win Best Actress, an award win for that role would give it a certain level of credibility that could put Hereditary in serious contention for the upcoming awards circuit.

It’s early yet to know just who the indefinite favorites of the season will be, let alone if there will be any: it might be one of those years where the wind could blow either way in terms of just which films make the final cut on major nominations lists. But the Gotham Awards will let us know just which independent films we should continue keeping an eye on, and is perhaps one of the first tastes we have of what to expect come February.

The Gotham Awards take place in New York City on November 26th. Check out the full list of nominees below:

Best Feature
The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos, director (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
First Reformed, Paul Schrader, director (A24)
If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins, director (Annapurna Pictures)
Madeline’s Madeline< Josephine Decker, director (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
The Rider, Chloé Zhao, director (Sony Pictures Classics)

Best Documentary
Bisbee ‘17, Robert Greene, director (4th Row Films)
Hale County This Morning, This Evening, RaMell Ross, director (The Cinema Guild)
Minding the Gap, Bing Liu, director (Hulu & Magnolia Pictures)
Shirkers, Sandi Tan, director (Netflix)
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Morgan Neville, director (Focus Features)

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Ari Aster for Hereditary (A24)
Bo Burnham for Eighth Grade (A24)
Jennifer Fox for The Tale (HBO)
Crystal Moselle for Skate Kitchen (Magnolia Pictures)
Boots Riley for Sorry to Bother You (Annapurna Pictures)

Best Screenplay
The Favourite, Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
First Reformed, Paul Schrader (A24)
Private Life, Tamara Jenkins (Netflix)
Support the Girls, Andrew Bujalski (Magnolia Pictures)
Thoroughbreds, Cory Finley (Focus Features)

Best Actor
Adam Driver in BlacKkKlansman (Focus Features)
Ben Foster in Leave No Trace (Bleecker Street)
Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Ethan Hawke in First Reformed (A24)
Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You (Annapurna Pictures)

Best Actress*
Glenn Close in The Wife (Sony Pictures Classics)
Toni Collette in Hereditary (A24)
Kathryn Hahn in Private Life (Netflix)
Regina Hall in Support the Girls (Magnolia Pictures)
Michelle Pfeiffer in Where Is Kyra? (Paladin and Great Point Media)

*The 2018 Best Actress nominating committee also voted to award a special Gotham Jury Award to Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz for their ensemble performance in The Favourite. (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Breakthrough Actor
Yalitza Aparicio in Roma (Netflix)
Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade (A24)
Helena Howard in Madeline’s Madeline (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
KiKi Layne in If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna Pictures)
Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie in Leave No Trace (Bleecker Street)

Breakthrough Series – Long Form
Alias Grace, Sarah Polley, Mary Harron, Noreen Halpern, executive producers (Netflix)

Big Mouth, Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin, creators; Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin & Jennifer Flackett, executive producers (Netflix)

The End of the F***ing World, Andy Baker, Murray Ferguson, Petra Fried, Ed MacDonald, Dominic Buchanan, Jonathan Entwistle, executive producers (Netflix)

Killing Eve, Sally Woodward Gentle, Lee Morris, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, executive producers (BBC America)

Pose, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals, creators; Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Alexis Martin Woodall, Sherry Marsh, executive producers (FX Networks)

Sharp Objects, Marti Noxon, creator; Marti Noxon, Jason Blum, Gillian Flynn, Amy Adams, Jean-Marc Vallée, Nathan Ross, Gregg Fienberg, Charles Layton, Marci Wiseman, Jessica Rhoades, executive producers (HBO)

Breakthrough Series – Short Form
195 Lewis, Chanelle Aponte Pearson and Rae Leone Allen, creators
Cleaner Daze, Tess Sweet and Daniel Gambelin, creators
Distance, Alex Dobrenko, creator
The F Word, Nicole Opper, creator
She’s the Ticket, Nadia Hallgren, creator

I write about film and occasionally other stuff. Xavier Dolan enthusiast. Trying to read books before seeing their film adaptations and sometimes succeeding.