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Birdman Leads Spirit Nominations 2014. Discuss!

Sony Pictures Classics leads the nominations for the Spirit Awards this year with an incredible 15 nominations though Fox Searchlight's Birdman leads all films with 6 nominations. And rather ridiculously even at the Spirits we have to play category fraud with Alfred Molina dubbed supporting in the marriage drama Love is Strange while his screen hubby John Lithgow is declared lead. (sigh). But we're happy that Love is Strange did so well wtih 4 nominations including Best Feature.

In case you forgot last year's nominations and would like a comparison, you can see them here as well as the eventual winners. Of all the awards shows you'd think that Spirit Awards could at least be a little different but last year they weren't with Best Picture and all four acting prizes repeating on Oscar night. Will this year have a greater and thus more exciting and wealth-spreading disconnect? We'll see but given the nominees in the acting categories (many from presumed Oscar hopefuls, we could well see a four for four again. 

Complete list of 2014 nominees is after the jump... 


A strong lineup. But also one that's likely to repeat with Oscar save Love is Strange which never really got an Oscar campaign going despite its brilliance. 


  • Damien Chazelle, Whiplash (podcast)
  • Ava DuVernay, Selma (brief chat)
  • Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, Birdman (review)
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood (review)
  • David Zellner, Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter (review)

Another lineup we could see repeating at Oscar minus Zellner who is the true "indie" director of this lineup.

Relieved that LOVE IS STRANGE, one of the year's best, has not been forgotten.BEST SCREENPLAY

That Big Eyes was eligible is a surprise given that it's a Burton film and his films are about as far from Independent as you can get given his firm status as a globally successful mainstream director.  A nice mix of topics and genres here for this particular prize. 

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)

  • A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT - Ana Lily Ampour (review)
  • DEAR WHITE PEOPLE - Justin Simien (review)
  • NIGHTCRAWLER - Dan Gilroy (review)
  • OBVIOUS CHILD - Gillian Robespierre (review)
  • SHE'S LOST CONTROL - Anja Marquardt

Three female driven films here which is a nice antidote to the male-centric "Best Feature" list. 


Appropriate Behavior - LOVE this underseen movie

  • APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR, Desiree Akhavan (review)
  • LITTLE ACCIDENTS, Sara Colangelo
  • THE ONE I LOVE, Justin Lader
  • SHE'S LOST CONTROL, Anja Marquardt
  • DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, Justin Simien

At Sundance very early this year I was all in Appropriate Behavior's corner as the best of the two wild NY girls sleeping around and growing up face/off with Obvious Child. Obviously this one's profile is still miniscule but I think it's funnier. 

Which is the best feature made with a budget under 1/2 a million.  The award goes to the writer, director and producer. 

TEST resurfaces for one nomination

  • BLUE RUIN - Jeremy Saulnier
  • IT FELT LIKE LOVE - Eliza Hittman
  • LAND HO! - Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens (review)
  • MAN FROM RENO - Dave Boyle
  • TEST - Chris Martin (interview)

Land Ho! and Test are both worth seeing. Alas I still need to see the others so cannot, as of yet, vouch for them.



  • MARION COTILLARD, The Immigrant (fyc)
  • RINKO KIKUCHI, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
  • JULIANNE MOORE, Still Alice (review)
  • JENNY SLATE, Obvious Child
  • TILDA SWINTON, Only Lovers Left Alive (review)

Tilda came to global fame as the ancient protagonist of Orlando who just kept writing on living through various centuries. She's back to those immortal tricks 22 years later as a vampire in Jarmusch's latest. She always feels right under the Spirit tent.


  • ANDRE BENJAMIN, Jimi: All is By My Side
  • JAKE GYLLENHAAL, Nightcrawler
  • JOHN LITHGOW, Love is Strange

With Birdman leading the nominations Michael Keaton is the man to beat here. Though Spirit wins used to surprise. If they return to their old wilder ways you could see an upset via Gyllenhaal or Oyelowo


We're at war here!

Oh calm down, Jes. It's just the Spirits! 

  • JESSICA CHASTAIN, A Most Violent Year
  • ANDREA SUAREZ PAZ, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
  • EMMA STONE, Birdman

You'll have to save your "this was very disrespectful" jokes for a future snubbing of Jessica Chastain because she made it to this lineup. This could well be the Oscar lineup, minus Suarez Paz in a true indie.


  • RIZ AHMED, Nightcrawler
  • ETHAN HAWKE, Boyhood
  • ALFRED MOLINA, Love is Strange
  • EDWARD NORTON, Birdman
  • J.K. SIMMONS, Whiplash

Another category that will have significant overlap in that the winner will also take the Oscar. It's either Norton or Simmons with the latter currently looking most likely.


  • THE IMMIGRANT - Darius Khonjdi
  • BIRDMAN - Emmanuel Lubezki
  • IT FELT LIKE LOVE - Sean Porter
  • SELMA - Bradford Young

An amazing category with Birdman's transcendent virtuousity up against The Immigrant's period glow, A Girl's black and white creepiness, and of course Bradford Young who is awesome. 


  • BOYHOOD -Sandra Adair
  • WHIPLASH - Tom Cross
  • NIGHTCRAWLER - John Gilroy
  • A MOST VIOLENT YEAR - Ron Patane
  • THE GUEST - Adam Wingard

You always know that the nominating committee's really thought about a particular achievement when it's the only nomination for that film. So congratulations to Adam Wingard for his work on The Guest.


  • 20000 DAYS ON EARTH

Debra Granik (aka Glenn's new bestie) of Winter's Bone fame is up against Nic Cave and other very buzzy docs. Will Citizen Four take every doc prize this year?


An absolutely amazing lineup here. Oscar would do well to take note (only Under the Skin is ineligible in the corresponding Oscar category)

This ensemble prize is given to the film's director, casting director and the cast. They never have nominees. Just a winner. 

  • INHERENT VICE - Paul Thomas Anderson, Cassandra Kulukundis & Cast


Strangely both of these films were ineligible for other prizes. So why did the IFP feel insistent on honoring them when there are hundreds of actually independent productions which could have used the publicity from an organization created to honor independent films? 

This $25,000 unrestricted grant is meant to  honor rising producers who work with limited resources but demonstrate  creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce quality film. 

  • Chad Burris
  • Elisabeth Holm
  • Chris Ohlson

Missed this one at Sundance. Dying to see it!20th ANNUAL SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
This award goes to a film and filmmaker with singular vision that is still waiting to be appropriately recognized. Consider it a "discovery" type deal

  • H., Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia
  • THE RETRIEVAL, Chris Eska

Another $25,000 grant but this one is for documentary filmmakers waiting for significant recognition.

  • EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL, Darius Clark Monroe
  • THE KILL TEAM, Dan Krauss
  • THE LAST SEASON, Sara Dosa


And that's all! The Spirit Awards ceremony will be held on Saturday February 21st, the day before the Oscars as usual. 

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Reader Comments (59)

Marion! Jenny! Tilda! Bless us all.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

too bad they showed love for Nightcrawler and Love is Strange yet snubbed there supporting ladies - Rene Russo and Marisa Tomei.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNina

I love that INHERENT VICE is being acknowledged in such an overt way. I wonder how it will translate with other awards bodies.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

No Adams, No Waltz, No problem!

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Riz Ahmed! YES!

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Riz Ahmed! YES!

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Great too see the diversity even if there will be some cross over.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

So so happy they remembered The Immigrant and Love Is Strange.

P.S. Molina is the co-lead, people!

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Shocker! I have seen (or will have seen) almost all of these by the day of the ceremony. This has never happened before. What's going on?

I love the lists of Best Feature and Best Male Lead nominees (even if I haven't seen them all yet). Those names! Really gotta catch Nightcrawler, Birdman and Love Is Strange ASAP.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Nina-- On Oscar morning if Love Is Strange over-performs expect a nomination for Marisa. Her two subsequent nominations after her controversial win were coattail despite being deserving on merit alone.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

btw (and I know I ask this every year) but who are the nominators and who votes? I understand the parameter is 20M (give or take) and under budget.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Andrea Suarez Paz, Rinko kikuchi, and Andre Benjamin!!! All nominated in the acting categories, who saw that coming

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

So thrilled for "Norte"! I hope this will help boost its chances significantly.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

So thrilled for "Norte"! I hope this will help boost its chances significantly.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

So thrilled for Marion Cotillard and Darius Khondji “Immigrant” nominations!!! Richly deserved.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

wow did WILD get shutout?!? was it even eligible???

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertommy z

I'm really happy to see "Test" on the Cassavettes list -- a moving, beautifully shot film about the 80s in San Francisco.

Nathaniel -- note that the director of Test is Chris Mason Johnson. (Not the guy formerly married to Gwyneth :^)

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Boyhood just might dominate, but then again, this is SUCH a strange awards year. Is it really boiling down to Boyhood v. Birdman?

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterT-Bone

yay cotillard! (I joke about her never getting a follow-up nomination, but she's something else in "the immigrant")

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

San Fran -- i interviewed him right here at the blog!

November 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

YES Marion! Perhaps it's The Immigrant that could finally get her that nomination. It's more traditional Oscar stuff than Two Days, One Night. Hopefully, Golden Globes and SAG will follow suit, they both nominated her for Rust And Bobe. Though for Globes it'll be for Two Days, One Night which they'll nominate for Foreign Language Film (it's foreign with a Hollywood star).

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKeegan

I thought Wild was eligible??? If so, that's a major snub.

But any chance to reward Saint Tilda is a GO in my book.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

Biggest shock: The Guest got an editing nom but Dan Stevens couldn't even get in for it.

A look at Actress: Nail in the coffin for, in order of surprise, Knightley, Woodley, Aniston, Swank, Adams AND, probably (we don't know Wild's exact budget, but Forbes guessed it was probably less than $20 million) even Witherspoon.
Current guess for the top 7 after this announcement?:
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
Jenny Slate, Obvious Child
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Scarlett Johannson, Under the Skin

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Anyone know if Cake/Aniston was ineligible due to release dates? Because this would have been a strong place for her to start that campaign.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

FYI, IFP has no involvement in these awards. The full name is "Film Independent Spirit Awards" :)

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCris

I went to the web site for the awards and I think the British films fell short of qualifying so no snub. I also think Theory's budget was too large.

5. Except for the category of Best International Film and Best Documentary, all nominations go to American productions.
The Spirit Awards defines an
“American production” as:
a. A film in which U.S. citizens or permanent residents are credited in at least two of the following categories of responsibilities:
director, writer or producer. This can be fulfilled by one person with multiple duties or by separate individuals;
b. The film is set primarily in the United States and at least 70% financed by companies whose principal
offices are in the U.S.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

YES! YES! YES! I'm over the moon right now! Watching the greatest actress of all time, the one and only Marion Cotillard being nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her insuperable performance as Ewa Cyluska in The Immigrant fills me with joy and excitement. She should sweep all the awards with her immensely powerful and hauntingly beautiful work in Gray’s film. Any list of Best Actress Oscar contenders would look empty without the incomparable Marion Cotillard of either The Immigrant or Two Days, One Night in the lead. Both performances should be considered among the 10 greatest performances ever put on film. She gave the absolute best (Two Days, One Night) and the absolute second best female performance (The Immigrant) at the same year. I’ll be more than excited to watch her win a second Oscar for either.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStergios

Volvagia - I wasn't expecting ANY recognition for THE GUEST so one nomination for editing is fantastic news!

Wished SKELETON TWINS had some nominations though. Also weird shut out for WILD and IMITATION GAME.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Ryan T.: Wild WAS shut out, but The Imitation Game (and The Theory of Everything, for that matter) are probably counted as international titles, which aren't really eligible for main Spirit categories. (That's also why I don't think ScarJo not getting cited in the Actress category here really hurts her chances at all.) As for Dan Stevens not getting in for The Guest? If the best they could scrounge up other than him was Andre Benjamin's bad Hendrix movie, I think we CAN count that as a surprise, and not a good one at that.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Imitation Game wasn't eligible. Wild, on the other hand, would seem to have been perfect for these so I'm surprised it doesn't show anywhere. I wonder if there is another reason it fell short? Not submitted, submission mistake?

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

It's hard to complain with such worthy picks all around ("love is strange", Cotillard, "Selma") but I'm still bummed for Rene Russo...this was her best shot at a major nom. :( hopefully one of the critics groups will still call her out

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShamoo

Henry - actually i'm hearing over and over again that IMITATION GAME *was* eligible in all categories. so it's complete shut out is interesting if non-consequential (the Academy voters i've talked to love it and its right in their wheelhouse anyway)

theory of everything was not eligible.

November 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I haven't seen The Guest, but André is outstanding as Hendrix. So pleased by this nomination!

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Also, the full THR video is up and there's a moment where Hilary Swank, in an uncharacteristic moment of wisdom, says "All roads lead back to Laura Dern."

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W.

Nat- I would have thought, with it being all over the British Indies, as well as it's pedigree, that is wouldn't have been but I see it has US production money so..........interesting. I wonder if it was late to the party? Timing is everything.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

My three big takeaways.

1) A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night deserves all the recognition it can get. Phenomenal film.

2) Tilda Swinton should be in the Best Actress discussion for Only Lovers Left Alive. Phenomenal work. Tom Hiddleston should be in the Best Actor discussion, too, but I'm not holding my breath for a male actor that young being recognized for something this off-beat.

3) Screenplay for Only Lovers Left Alive would be amazing. Could that be where this sneaks in for bigger recognition throughout awards season?

Yes, yes. I'm excited for Birdman. I'm surprised in the best way possible for A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Only Lovers Left Alive.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

volvagia - Knightley, Woodley, Aniston, Swank, Adams and Witherspoon don't have to worry. Well, maybe Aniston... The Spirits are not that big of a deal in terms of Oscar unless the person *REALLY* needs the attention. Entirefly different voting bodies and habits.

But if any of them miss BFCA or Globes next week (which both line up quite a bit with Oscar) they should worry.

November 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Really happy for two things: the inclusion of Cotillard, who blows all of her competition out of the water (and I loved a lot of female performances, so that's saying a lot). Also love the exclusion of teller, who is not special in whiplash, but expected him to figure here given the love for his film.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

THR just posted a piece on snubs and who was and wasn't eligible. They are saying Imitation Game wasn't but Wild and many others were.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Just realized... was SNOWPIERCER eligible?

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Was hoping/expecting Nightcrawler to be even stronger, and nail best pic and Rene Russo, given its relative box office success and insider connections. I hope this isn't the end for Rene Russo.

Hoping this means Boyhood or Birdman has the insider track to win Best Pic at the Oscars (and not prestige garbage like Theory of Everything). Those would be two really strong choices.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

Nice lineup, though I'm wondering if "Pride" was eligible?

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoel V

So happy for Cotillard and Khonjdi. The cinematography in The Immigrant was stunning.

Also happy for Love is Strange but bummed that they couldn't find room for Tomei.

And as much as I love Russo I was a little confused with what she was doing in Nightcrawler. I never saw that moment where she decided to get on board with his demands. It was a major shift in her character arc that happened off screen.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Henry - i don't know who to believe any more. Other outlets were insistent that it was eligilble. who knows...

November 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Cotillard in her best performance; Khondji in his hest work. All the way to the Oscars!

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Good lord! The international movie lineup is extremely strong! I am rooting for Norte (home country bias though this is the best film from the Philippines in a long time) though I have not seen Leviathan.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNewyorker27

i guess i should watch THE IMMIGRANT again. so many people say this but i preferred her in Two Days One Night and Rust & Bone recently.

November 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

"Nail in the coffin for, in order of surprise, Knightley, Woodley, Aniston, Swank, Adams AND, probably (we don't know Wild's exact budget, but Forbes guessed it was probably less than $20 million) even Witherspoon."

Nail in the coffin?! Let's not get carried away with proclamations. No awards snub is a "nail in the coffin," but especially one this early / with unclear eligibility requirements. The idea that Jenny Slade has a better chance at an Oscar nom than Amy Adams for a Weinstein movie is particularly lolzy.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

It's a great list, but man, I wish that Altman Award could have gone to Pride.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

eurocheese, I'd normally say "but it's ineligible because it's entirely british", but then, INHERENT VICE ain't exactly eligible either, so...

I have heard IMITATION GAME was eligible due to it being funded by America? Either way, it's no big loss. It's not like Oscar voters are suddenly going to say "well, no indie spirit nod, I guess I'll just have to vote for OBVIOUS CHILD instead."

I am so happy for Ana Lily Amirpour and Lyle Vincent for A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, Andrea Suarez Paz, LOVE IS STRANGE, Adam Wingard (their editor category is frequently the home of a solo surprise or two) and several others. The only Cassavetes nominee I haven't seen is MAN FROM RENO, but IT FELT LIKE LOVE, LAND HO and BLUE RUIN (the likely winner, I suspect) are all excellent. I wasn't as keen on TEST, but I like that it showed up here. That international film category, too, is quite something.

Also, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR may be "underseen", but that's because it hasn't actually been released yet. It's out in January, but eligible here (much like KUMIKO) because they accept festival releases.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

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