Trophy Talk

Independent Spirit Awards and Gotham Awards Pull the Oscar Race into Focus

How well do the Gotham Awards and the Indie Spirit Awards predict Oscar success?

by | November 16, 2018 | Comments

During Awards Season, Rotten Tomatoes editor Jacqueline Coley will be reporting on the big contenders, the most important ceremonies, and surprise shifts in the race towards Oscar gold.

If Toronto and Telluride start the awards conversation, the first two big indie awards nominations of the year start to put that chatter into sharper focus – showing which titles are actually going to do more than get people talking. On Friday, November 16, Crazy Rich Asians actress Gemma Chan and Private Life’s Molly Shannon will unveil The Film Independent Spirit Awards 2019 nominees, and later this month, The Gotham Awards will hold their annual ceremony honoring the lifetime achievements of Willem Dafoe, Rachel Weisz, and Paul Greengrass, alongside their category winners. Keep a close eye on the winners. In recent years, indie darlings Moonlight and Spotlight won big at both ceremonies and ended the season with a Best Picture win, beating out bigger-budget commercial frontrunners.  With the Gotham Awards kicking things off later this month and the Independent Spirits holding their ceremony the night before the Oscars, let’s take a closer look at these two indie awards shows that effectively bookend the season and examine how well they signal future Oscar accolades.


Gotham Awards

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Established: 1991

Nominations Announced: October 18

Ceremony: Monday, November 26, 2018

Voting Body: Contenders are nominated by a jury of film critics, journalists, festival programmers, and film curators; a separate jury of filmmakers, writers, producers, and film crew members vote on the winner. Both juries are primarily composed of New York or Northeastern-based industry folk.

Criteria: Films made with an economy of means, though no specific dollar amount is listed.

Comparable Oscar Categories: Best Feature, Best Documentary, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay

In its early years, The Gotham Awards primarily celebrated films created by Northeastern filmmakers or filmed in the area; thus the awards were aptly named ‘Gotham,’ the unofficial pseudonym for New York City. However, in 2004 The Independent Film Project (IFP), the largest and longest-running not-for-profit dedicated to the promotion of independent film, broadened its scope to include the larger filmmaking community, including international films. Announcing nominees in mid-October, The Gothams hammer down the first stakes on the road to next year’s Oscars. But with nominations proposed by a jury looking to champion hidden gems, the winners don’t always line up with Oscar nominations. Last year, only Jordan Peele’s Get Out earned similar honors at both the Gothams and the Oscars when he took home the prize for Best Adapted Screenplay. Moonlight and Spotlight went on the win Best Picture after winning Best Feature at the Gothams, beating out early front-runners La La Land and The Revenant. On the acting side, Matthew McConaughey and Casey Affleck sprinted off the blocks with Gotham Best Actor wins and crossed the tape with Best Actor Oscars in 2013 and 2016. But since 2013, only Julianne Moore managed to win both a Gotham and an Oscar for her performance in Still Alice. The nomination numbers slightly favor the ladies, with 40% of Gotham Nominees making it to Oscar night, while only 33% of male nominees accomplish the same feat. In the end, the Gothams are a good indication of Oscar potential but not much more than that.


Independent Spirit Awards

Randall Michelson/Getty Images

(Photo by Randall Michelson/Getty Images)

Established: 1984

Nominations Announced: November 16

Ceremony: Saturday, February 23, 2019

Voting Body: Film Independent Members

Criteria: US-Based film for major Categories. Cost of the completed film must be less than $20 million.

Comparable Oscar Categories: Best Feature, Best Director, Best Female Lead. Best Male Lead, Best Supporting Female, Best Supporting Male, Best Screenplay, Best International Film, Best Documentary Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Editing

Held in a tent off the Santa Monica pier on the Saturday before the Oscars, the Independent Spirit Awards are the laid back California cousin to the NYC-based Gothams, or maybe just a boozy, low-budget Oscar pre-party — take your pick. Last year, Frances McDormand sported a pajama-styled dress suit, and Timothée Chalamet arrived decked out in an oversized button-down looking like he’d finished a shift at Kwik Trip. Dress code aside, one thing is sure: the Independent Spirit Awards go hand in hand with Oscar gold. Since 2009, every Independent Spirit Best Feature winner has been nominated for Best Picture, with four of the last five Best Feature winners going on to win Best Picture. Since 2010, the acting nominations are on par with the Gothams, with about 30% of the acting nominees also nominated in comparable Oscar categories. Winning an Independent Spirit, however, significantly ups a nom’s chances, with a staggering 65% of Indie winners winning on both nights.

Still, the awards are known for rewarding performances that don’t get much Oscar love: John Hawkes, Molly Shannon, Mya Taylor, Shailene Woodley, Ben Foster, and Idris Elba all won acting awards at the Spirits without earning an Oscar nomination in comparable categories. Taking all this into account on Friday, November 16th should drop several clues to the films that will shape the season. This year, current Best Picture frontrunner A Star Is Born is ineligible at the Indie Spirits, leaving Netflix’s Roma the presumed favorite among Film Independent voters. But word has it Roma will be relegated to only Best International Film, even though it was produced by and financed by Netflix and Participant Media, two US-based production companies. If Roma pulls any nominations and happens to win when the trophies are handed out in February, don’t rule it out for a Best Picture win. Like La La Land and The Revenant before it, A Star Is Born may be just that – a star that burned bright but fizzled out come voting time. Or it could burn bright. Who knows – it’s not even December. Either way, stay tuned Friday to see who gets a little heat from the Spirit nominations.

Tag Cloud

disaster boxoffice Amazon Studios cartoon stop motion screenings children's TV Box Office sequel venice Mystery remakes blockbuster obituary Superheroes Extras Mary Tyler Moore nature DGA Drama 21st Century Fox Nickelodeon ratings twilight YouTube Writers Guild of America cinemax Apple Comic Book Turner Classic Movies Tumblr Crunchyroll HBO Go canceled best Action space 71st Emmy Awards Dark Horse Comics 99% harry potter reboot Academy Awards franchise documentary independent ITV Apple TV+ Rock streaming Avengers Crackle Britbox cars Mindy Kaling Adult Swim halloween sitcom golden globe awards FX Arrowverse 2015 Netflix archives Cartoon Network BBC One DC Comics joker chucky Epix CBS All Access Infographic dceu Brie Larson italian Funimation spain Pixar sequels MTV TIFF award winner dogs strong female leads Marvel Television classics The Academy tv talk NYCC spanish Nominations Film Festival The Walt Disney Company Tubi SundanceTV Lifetime Christmas movies boxing TV renewals Lionsgate book unscripted politics Fantasy Showtime E! FOX fresh HBO Awards Tour serial killer satire X-Men APB hollywood Rom-Com Mary poppins Sci-Fi HBO Max Fox Searchlight vampires directors based on movie science fiction war The Witch Kids & Family travel First Reviews Emmys jamie lee curtis Watching Series Christmas Comedy medical drama 2016 TLC japanese docudrama crime thriller Comics on TV Holiday Reality 007 Certified Fresh TV Land breaking bad toy story crime RT History Winter TV Baby Yoda facebook natural history GoT See It Skip It screen actors guild Pop TV Travel Channel spanish language scorecard Country 20th Century Fox National Geographic OWN indiana jones Character Guide TCM renewed TV shows SXSW Discovery Channel criterion GIFs robots Hallmark deadpool romance true crime Spike BBC America YouTube Red AMC Rocky anime TCA 2017 Disney revenge Photos teaser latino fast and furious anthology WarnerMedia justice league BAFTA DC streaming service series game of thrones scary movies transformers mutant Polls and Games comiccon romantic comedy green book Ellie Kemper Pride Month PlayStation spinoff werewolf Set visit technology theme song jurassic park Animation nbcuniversal rotten GLAAD Summer CNN cancelled TV series Creative Arts Emmys Marvel Studios Horror FXX films Warner Bros. mission: impossible USA Network Quiz Women's History Month TCA Winter 2020 cops trailers festivals History crossover Trophy Talk emmy awards thriller Esquire YouTube Premium TCA Awards IFC Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 4/20 Amazon spy thriller cults comedies die hard cancelled Sneak Peek singing competition zombie Teen Walt Disney Pictures versus Black History Month Paramount laika BET Western video on demand Awards Ovation Ghostbusters comics Shudder TNT television worst movies Nat Geo Stephen King Freeform RT21 quibi 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Chernobyl San Diego Comic-Con comic sag awards james bond video sports christmas movies composers supernatural rom-coms The CW Tomatazos french football TCA zombies stand-up comedy pirates of the caribbean Fall TV 2019 elevated horror Captain marvel discovery IFC Films Classic Film CMT witnail DC Universe MSNBC name the review Peacock Heroines TBS Comedy Central historical drama Best and Worst ghosts period drama hispanic Shondaland game show parents dark Amazon Prime Elton John Disney Plus Lifetime Hear Us Out kids 72 Emmy Awards richard e. Grant Countdown Vudu what to watch Anna Paquin Pop asian-american Universal Emmy Nominations Rocketman south america CBS PBS American Society of Cinematographers Endgame USA Mudbound Winners halloween tv indie news zero dark thirty australia OneApp cancelled TV shows documentaries Disney Channel cooking critics binge Logo adaptation Oscars rt archives DirecTV talk show Calendar Marathons SDCC Grammys golden globes ABC Signature Black Mirror a nightmare on elm street Turner crime drama Hallmark Christmas movies rotten movies we love Cosplay BET Awards Year in Review black universal monsters Valentine's Day The Walking Dead Columbia Pictures all-time adventure doctor who Hulu Syfy TV Holidays movie Amazon Prime Video toronto Song of Ice and Fire psychological thriller Premiere Dates aliens cats Podcast Marvel VOD Video Games Television Academy Netflix Christmas movies Interview casting batman dramedy A&E LGBT FX on Hulu Biopics Masterpiece First Look biography animated Mary Poppins Returns Election political drama diversity Spring TV Trailer VH1 slashers dragons blaxploitation MCU PaleyFest Binge Guide movies Tarantino NBC Star Wars Cannes Musicals LGBTQ YA The Purge psycho Acorn TV mockumentary Alien Television Critics Association Music reviews VICE comic books child's play TruTV nfl New York Comic Con President 2018 Spectrum Originals Superheroe hist police drama Red Carpet festival Disney streaming service Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Lucasfilm stoner The Arrangement worst Reality Competition 45 spider-man ID Super Bowl finale canceled TV shows El Rey Thanksgiving free movies Fox News BBC CW Seed Pirates Trivia 2017 Schedule A24 E3 2020 Apple TV Plus Family Toys WGN social media Sundance Now dc Starz ABC Family TV One 24 frames Martial Arts Paramount Network ESPN Star Trek Disney+ Disney Plus concert Pet Sematary cancelled television Sony Pictures ABC Film Food Network Sundance TV Musical Sundance Opinion foreign superhero miniseries Bravo