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Can we learn anything about this year’s Oscar race from the Gotham nominations?

Late last week, the 18th annual Gotham Awards announced their nominees. Presented by the Independent Film Project, the Gotham Awards mark the start of the precursor season each year. Though hardly the most important word in who and what are nominated for Academy Awards, at this early junction, any citation is important. Perception as a contender goes a long way right now, here in October. If anything, just getting noticed here is important, as long as you’re a smaller title looking for love. Something like First Man or A Star Is Born was never showing up here. Just know that going in. For one Oscar hopeful in particular though, this was a nice boost out of the gate.

Gotham went hot and heavy for two titles in particular. The Favourite and First Reformed each led the way with three nominations apiece. Getting multiple nominations as well from this precursor were the diverse movie grouping of Eighth Grade, Hereditary, If Beale Street Could Talk, Leave No Trace, Madeline’s Madeline, Private Lives, Sorry to Bother You, and Support the Girls. As you’ll see below, the Best Feature field, which is Gotham’s top prize, will be between The Favourite, First Reformed, If Beale Street Could Talk, Madeline’s Madeline, and The Rider. Presumably, this will be between the first three mentioned, but anything is possible. More after the list of full nominees below…

These are the Gotham nominations for this year:

Best Feature

“The Favourite” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
“First Reformed (A24)
“If Beale Street Could Talk” (Annapurna Pictures)
“Madeline’s Madeline” (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
“The Rider” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Best Documentary

“Bisbee ‘17” (4th Row Films)
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening” (The Cinema Guild)
“Minding the Gap” (Hulu & Magnolia Pictures)
“Shirkers” (Netflix)
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (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)

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)

Breakthrough Series – Long Form

“Alias Grace,” (Netflix)
“Big Mouth,” (Netflix)
“The End of the F***ing World,” (Netflix)
“Killing Eve” (BBC America)
“Pose” (FX Networks)
“Sharp Objects,” (HBO)

Breakthrough Series – Short Form

“195 Lewis”
“Cleaner Daze”
“The F Word”
“She’s the Ticket”

As you can see, it was a large mix of titles from the first nine and a half months of 2018 (as an aside, the Breakthrough Series category also found room for Big Mouth, my favorite show currently on the air…or, more aptly, streaming). Interestingly, films with big Oscar aspirations like BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and Roma only scored a single citation each. They didn’t get shut out though, and that was something. The real test will come when the mass of precursor awards come in, especially the Guilds. Until then, the critical segment will just establish who and what seem like frontrunners, as opposed to who and what actually are in the lead.

My hunch is that The Favourite may well be a bigger Academy Award player at the end of the day than we’re expecting. Something like First Reformed will probably still struggle with Oscar, but this helps keep it on a voter’s radar, potentially. Remember, this is still a precursor voted on by a select number of film critics. It’s not hard to skew the vote in favor of something small that has a passionate following. For example, we won’t be seeing Skate Kitchen at the Oscars. However, some of these nominees (and future winners) will end up at the Academy Awards. We’ll just have to figure out which in the weeks and months to come…

Stay tuned to see how these nominees do during the rest of the season!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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