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Gotham Award 2020 nominees: All five best feature contenders directed by women

Orion Lee, left, and John Magaro in the film "First Cow."
Orion Lee, left, and John Magaro in director Kelly Reichardt’s “First Cow,” which has earned four Gotham Award nominations.
(Allyson Riggs / A24 Films)
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For the first time in the honors’ 30-year history, all five of the Gotham Awards best feature nominees were directed by women. “First Cow” leads the herd of independent films with four nominations, including two for writer-director Kelly Reichardt.

The best feature nominees are: “The Assistant” (directed by Kitty Green); “First Cow” (Reichardt); “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (Eliza Hittman); “Nomadland” (Chloé Zhao, a previous winner for “The Rider” and now working on the Marvel Cinematic Universe entry “The Eternals”); and “Relic” (Natalie Erika James).

The late Chadwick Boseman is nominated for his lead performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Others in the category: Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”), Jude Law (“The Nest”), John Magaro (“First Cow”) and Jesse Plemons (“I’m Thinking of Ending Things”).

For lead actress, the nominees are Nicole Beharie (“Miss Juneteenth”), Jessie Buckley (“I’m Thinking of Ending Things”), Yuh-Jung Youn (“Minari”), Carrie Coon (“The Nest”) and two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”).

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The awards honoring independent film (as part of the Independent Filmmaker Project) do not have a category for director, though they do honor a “breakthrough director” (last year’s award went to Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre for “The Mustang”). Instead, the best feature prize is given to the director and producers. The current field of nominees guarantees that, for the fifth time since its inception in 2004, the top film award will go to a female directed-movie. (Note: Los Angeles Times film critic Justin Chang serves on the nominating committee for best feature and screenplay.)

Notably, “First Cow” is the only feature nominee to also get a nod for screenplay (also by director Reichardt). Radha Blank is a multiple nominee as well, for breakthrough director and screenplay for “The Forty-Year-Old Version.”

“First Cow’s” four nominations are for feature, screenplay, actor and breakthrough actor (costar Orion Lee). Several features have two nominations.

The Gotham best feature prize only occasionally aligns with the Oscar for best picture: four matches in the award’s 16 years so far. Last year’s Gotham winners included “Marriage Story” for feature, screenplay and actor (Adam Driver) — it also received the Audience Award — and Awkwafina for lead actress in “The Farewell.”

The IFP Gotham Awards ceremony will be held Jan. 11 in a “hybrid format featuring virtual interactive tables in order to follow health and safety protocols brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a press release.

The full list of nominees:

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Feature Film
The Assistant
First Cow
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Nomadland
Relic

Documentary
76 Days
City Hall
“Our Time Machine”
A Thousand Cuts
Time

International Feature
Bacurau
Beanpole
Cuties” (Mignonnes)
“Identifying Features”
Martin Eden
“Wolfwalkers”

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Radha Blank for “The Forty-Year-Old Version”
Channing Godfrey Peoples for “Miss Juneteenth”
Alex Thompson for “Saint Frances”
Carlo Mirabella-Davis for “Swallow”
Andrew Patterson for “The Vast of Night”

Screenplay
“Bad Education,” Mike Makowsky
“First Cow,” Jon Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
“The Forty-Year-Old Version,” Radha Blank
“Fourteen,” Dan Sallitt
“The Vast of Night,” James Montague, Craig Sanger

Lead Actor
Riz Ahmed in “Sound of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Jude Law in “The Nest”
John Magaro in “First Cow”
Jesse Plemons in “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”

Lead Actress
Nicole Beharie in “Miss Juneteenth”
Jessie Buckley in “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”
Yuh-Jung Youn in “Minari”
Carrie Coon in “The Nest”
Frances McDormand in “Nomadland”

Breakthrough Actor
Jasmine Batchelor in “The Surrogate”
Kingsley Ben-Adir in “One Night in Miami”
Sidney Flanigan in “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
Orion Lee in “First Cow”
Kelly O’Sullivan in “Saint Frances”

Breakthrough Series — Long Format (over 40 minutes)
“The Great”
“Immigration Nation”
“P-Valley”
“Unorthodox”
“Watchmen”

Breakthrough Series — Short Format (under 40 minutes)
“Betty”
“Dave”
“I May Destroy You”
“Taste the Nation”
“Work in Progress”

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Gotham Audience Award
IFP members will determine the Gotham Audience Award with nominees consisting of the 20 nominated films in the Feature, Documentary, International Feature and Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award categories. All IFP current, active members are eligible to vote. Voting will take place online in December.