The 21st annual Gotham Independent Film Award nominations were announced this morning, effectively kicking off the precursor season. Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" and Sean Durkin's "Martha Marcy May Marlene" were the big winners with three nominations apiece.

Considering that and given that Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" also showed up in the Best Feature category (the film's only nomination), I'm sure Fox Searchlight is smiling big today. The studio racked up an impressive eight nominations total (the other being a Breakthrough Director tip of the hat for "Another Earth" helmer Mike Cahill).

Most surprising is the absence of "it" girl of the year Jessica Chastain in the Breakthrough Actress category, which predictably includes the two ladies who'll surely duke it out for similar awards all year long: Elizabeth Olsen and Felicity Jones.

A few films were surprisingly left off the list, including Searchlight's other title, "Win Win," the Jonathan Levine dramedy "50/50" and Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" (which may not have been eligible). Woody Allen's Oscar hopeful "Midnight in Paris" was not eligible due to foreign financing. I'm mostly happy for "The Tree of Life," as well as "Take Shelter," which managed a nod for Best Feature and Best Ensemble.

Previously announced were career achievement honors for Tom Rothman, Gary Oldman, David Cronenberg and Charlize Theron.

Check out the full list of nominees below. The Gotham Awards will be held on November 28 in New York.

Best Feature
"Beginners
"The Descendants"
"Meek's Cutoff"
"Take Shelter"
"The Tree of Life"

Best Documentary
"Better This World
"Bill Cunningham New York"
"Hell and Back Again"
"The Interrupters"
"The Woodmans"

Best Ensemble Performance
"Beginners"
"The Descendants"
"Margin Call"


"Martha Marcy May Marlene"
"Take Shelter"

Breakthrough Director
Mike Cahill, "Another Earth"
Sean Durkin, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Vera Farmiga, "Higher Ground"
Evan Glodell, "Bellflower"
Dee Rees, "Pariah"

Breakthrough Actor
Felicity Jones, "Like Crazy"
Elizabeth Olsen, "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Harmony Santana, "Gun HIll"
Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"
Jacon Wysocki, "Terri"

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You
"Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same"
"Green"
"The Redemption of General Butt Naked"
"Scenes of a Crime"
"Without"