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12 Years a Slave Leads Gotham Indie Awards Slate

New York's Independent Filmmaker Project gets into the awards business early every year, as one of the first organizations to name a slate of the year's best films. The difference between this and other best-of lists is that the Gotham Independent Film Awards eschew big studio titles in favor of notable achievements in independent filmmaking. Unsurprisingly, director Steve McQueen's much-lauded 12 Years a Slave (pictured at top of page) was broadly recognized by the IFP, earning nominations in three categories: best feature, best actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and breakthrough actor (Lupita Nyong'o). 

Other films receiving multiple nominations from the IFP include Blue Caprice (Best Actor/Breakthrough Director), Concussion (Breakthrough Director/Breakthrough Actor), Fruitvale Station (Breakthrough Director/Breakthrough Actor), Inside Llewyn Davis (Best Feature/Best Actor), and Upstream Color (Best Feature/Best Actress). Amy Seimetz was also nominated twice, once for her performance in Upstream Color and again as breakthrough director for Sun Don't Shine. Some of the nominated films — especially 12 Years a Slave and the Coen Brothers' Llewyn Davis — stand a good chance of competing for Oscars in February, but the bulk of the titles cited are unlikely to see any Academy Awards action at all.

The IFP's definition of "independent" has inspired controversy over the years, with the inclusion of titles like the Martin Scorsese picture The Departed (Warner Bros.) among the nominees. For what it's worth, here are the criteria IFP says it uses to determine eligibility for the awards.


  • Filmmaking with a point of view.
    Each  Gotham Independent Film Award will be given to individual films or performers in films 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."
  • Films must be American.
    The film must be directed and/or produced (credited lead producers) by a US born or based filmmaker.
  • Feature-length (defined as over 70 minutes).
  • Films made with an economy of means.
    Budget level and sources of financing are taken into consideration during criteria review.
  • Screening availability by the Nominating Committee.
    The film must be submitted on DVD by the deadline or made available for screening by nominating committee. (Not applicable to the Gotham Audience Award)
  • Theatrical, Day and Date, or Digital Platform Release.
    The release can be through a theatrical releasing entity or by direct or self-distribution by filmmakers, either in an exclusively theatrical release or day and date with digital platforms or VOD release.

Clear enough? Below is the full list of nominees. The awards will be given out in a December 2 ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in lower Manhattan.

Best Feature

12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Ain't Them Bodies Saints, directed by David Lowery (IFC Films)
Before Midnight, directed by Richard Linklater (Sony Pictures Classics)
Inside Llewyn Davis, directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (CBS Films)
Upstream Color, directed by Shane Carruth (erbp)

The Act of Killing

Best Documentary

The Act of Killing, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer (Drafthouse Films)
The Crash Reel, directed by Lucy Walker (HBO Documentary Films)
First Cousin Once Removed, directed by Alan Berliner (HBO Documentary Films)
Let the Fire Burn, directed by Jason Osder (Zeitgeist Films)
Our Nixon, directed by Penny Lane (Cinedigm and CNN Films)

Oscar Isaac

Best Actor

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford, All Is Lost
Isaiah Washington, Blue Caprice

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Scarlett Johansson, Don Jon
Brie Larson, Short Term 12
Amy Seimetz, Upstream Color
Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director

Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station
Adam Leon, Gimme the Loot
Alexandre Moors, Blue Caprice
Stacie Passon, Concussion
Amy Seimetz, Sun Don't Shine

Breakthrough Actor

Dane DeHaan, Kill Your Darlings
Kathryn Hahn, Afternoon Delight
Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
Robin Weigert, Concussion

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