Gotham Awards nominations kick off the Oscar season with a huge ‘Boyhood’ boost

The Independent Filmmaker Project officially fired the starting gun on the film awards season as always this morning with the announcement of this year's Gotham Awards nominees. Unsurprisingly, the most high-profile indie in the race – “Boyhood” – drew the most nominations with a whopping four mentions, including Best Feature. That's extremely high for the Gotham Awards and it sends IFC's campaign sailing into the season with a huge burst of wind.

Speaking of revving the campaign engine on an early year release, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” landed in the Best Feature category. Two years ago Wes Anderson's “Moonrise Kingdom” won that category but still didn't end up with a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Can Fox Searchlight find better luck? And speaking of Searchlight, “Birdman” landed Best Feature and Best Actor nominations. Fully expected.

Filling out the Best Feature category was Ira Sachs' beautiful “Love is Strange” and Jonathan Glazer's bold “Under the Skin” with Scarlett Johansson (who picked up a Best Actress nod).

Perhaps my favorite nomination of the lot is Macon Blair's for Best Actor in “Blue Ruin.” I mentioned Blair in Monday's Oscar column detailing a Best Actor race that seems to have room for one or two competitors at most and Blair's is truly one of the year's best performances, a focused and present portrayal. If you haven't seen the film, seek it out. It was on Netflix last I checked.

Ethan Hawke (“Boyhood”) and Miles Teller's (“Whiplash”) nominations will probably do more for their campaign hopes. Hawke is gunning for supporting in the Oscar race (as is Patricia Arquette, nominated for Best Actress in “Boyhood”), but Teller is a real possibility in Best Actor. I would have liked to see more overall love for the movie here but that he slid in makes a statement for him and the movie regardless.

Then again, maybe Ellar Coltrane is the sleeper in that category. He picked up an understandable breakthrough mention today but as I said Monday, no one else in the race will be able to cop to having delivered a 12-year performance. And I said to watch out for Oscar Isaac, right? Well, he turned up as a nominee today, too. Seems like the Gotham voting committee represents the precious few A24 has deemed worthy of seeing that one ahead of AFI Fest…

There's a little more to chew on. Justin Simien, for instance, was checking my name off at press screenings three years ago and now he's an award-nominated filmmaker. I think you'll find a lot of people in my racket who are happy for and proud of him and “Dear White People.” I also love the Jenny Slate mention.

Additionally, the cast of “Foxcatcher” was announced for a special award, while Tilda Swinton, Bennett Miller and Netflix's Ted Sarandos were previously tapped for tributes at the upcoming ceremony.

Check out the full list of nominees on the next page.

The 24th annual Gotham Independent Film Awards will be presented on Dec. 1.

Best Feature
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Love is Strange”
“Under the Skin”

Best Documentary
“Life Itself”
“Point and Shoot”

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Ana Lily Amirpour (“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”)
James Ward Byrkit (“Coherence”)
Dan Gilroy (“Nightcrawler”)
Eliza Hittman (“It Felt Like Love”)
Justin Simien (“Dear White People”)

Best Actor
Bill Hader (“The Skeleton Twins”)
Ethan Hawke (“Boyhood”)
Oscar Isaac (“A Most Violent Year”)
Michael Keaton (“Birdman”)
Miles Teller (“Whiplash”)

Best Actress
Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”)
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Beyond the Lights”)
Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”)
Scarlett Johansson (“Under the Skin”)
Mia Wasikowska (“Tracks”)

Breakthrough Actor
Riz Ahmed (“Nightcrawler”)
Macon Blair (“Blue Ruin”)
Ellar Coltrane (“Boyhood”)
Joey King (“Wish I Was Here”)
Jenny Slate (“Obvious Child”)
Tessa Thompson (“Dear White People”)

Spotlight on Women Filmmakers 'Live the Dream' Grant
Garrett Bradley, director (“Below Dreams”)
Claire Carré, director (“Embers”)
Chloé Zhao, director (“Songs My Brothers Taught Me”)