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Tuesday
Nov242015

Carol Leads Spirit Award Nominations

The Film Independent Spirit Award Nominations are out with Carol leading the way with six nominations. Cary Joji Fukunaga, who the Spirits have always loved, is also on fire with five nominations for his Netflix streaming Beasts of No Nation

Yes, darling, six nominations!

BEST FEATURE

Two Oscar threats (Carol & Spotlight) two singular critical darlings (Anomalisa & Tangerine) and one whatsit straddling the line between TV & Movie & New Distribution Models (Beasts of No Nation). A shortlist with strong range of comedy, drama, procedural, romance, and queer content.

Sean Baker and his movie camera, the iPhoneBEST DIRECTOR

  • Sean Baker, Tangerine
  • Cary Joji Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation
  • Todd Haynes, Carol
  • Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, Anomalisa
  • Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
  • David Robert Mitchell, It Follows

The critical darling horror flick It Follows (reviewed) just missed the Feature list but was probably close given that it forced a six-wide category for direction. Fun Fact: This is Todd Hayne's sixth (!) nomination at the Spirits for Best Director, which means that, yes, he has been nominated in this category for every single one of his theatrically released features. He's only won it once though (2002's Far From Heaven). More after the jump...

BEST FEMALE LEAD

Between the recent Globe ruling that Rooney Mara had to compete as leading actress for Carol, this new nomination and the Cannes Best Actress win this summer, The Weinstein Co should probably readjust their Oscar campaign pronto. People just aren't blindly accepting it like they usually are willing to. It'd be so wonderful to have a double nomination in lead again. It hasn't happened since Thelma & Louise (1991) largely because everyone stopped trying with the rise of Category Fraud. But we can't congratulate the Spirits too much for being anti-category fraud since they thought it was okay in the case of the year's other wonderful co-lead queer Christmas movie Tangerine.

Such a competitive year. Notice the absence of Blythe Danner and Lily Tomlin's well received indie films. And notice that Room was eligible but didn't score in very many places. 

BEST MALE LEAD

  • Christopher Abbott, James White
  • Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
  • Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind
  • Jason Segel, End of the Tour
  • Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea

This feels genuinely suspensful as to who might win, no? Kudos to the Spirits for finally having some nominees again that we had to scurry to research (ahout out to Koudous Seihon!)

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

If Cynthia Nixon doesn't win this for her blazingly tough can't take your eyes off of her work...

There's only one category fraud situation here (Mya Taylor, who is wonderful but one of two leading ladies for Tangerine) which is a nice change of pace for a supporting category at any awards show these days.  Jennifer Jason Leigh's fun voice performance (her Cyndi Lauper bit is just great) was surely helped along by the fact that the movie uses its vocal work as a thematic device in addition to just using it as a dialogue vessel.

BEST SUPPORTING MALE

  • Kevin Corrigan, Results
  • Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
  • Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
  • Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk
  • Michael Shannon, 99 Homes

Uff. Paul Dano is so good in Love & Mercy (his best performance by a comfortable margin I think) but is is really supporting? Hmmm. It's probably time to see Bone Tomahawk I kept hearing different names touted as the MVP so Richard Jenkins isn't the only actor winning strong reviews for it.

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
(Their Ensemble Prize... there are never nominees just a winner)

  • Spotlight

Spotlight will receive a similar prize at the Gothams and will surely go on to win SAG's Best Ensemble prize. But will all these group honors create a weird vacuum of traction for any individual player when it comes to Oscar recognition?

BEST SCREENPLAY

  • Anomalisa - Charlie Kaufman
  • Bone Tomahawk -S Craig Zahler
  • Carol - Phyllis Nagy
  • End of the Tour - Donald Marguiles
  • Spotlight -Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer

Tough category!

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Beasts of No Nation - Cary Joji Fukunaga
  • Carol - Ed Lachman
  • It Follows - Michael Gioulakis
  • Meadowland - Reed Morano
  • Songs My Brother Taught Me - Joshua James Richards

Wonderful that they strayed from an all Best Feature field... Ed Lachman's genius work on Carol must not go unrecognized so hopefully this is the beginning of a stream of kudos of one kind or another. Spirit eligibilty requires a budget of under 21 million and honestly Carol sometimes feels like the production budget for cinematography alone was a good half of that.

BEST EDITING

  • Heaven Knows What - Ronald Bronstein & Benny Safdie
  • It Follows - Julio C Perez IV
  • Manos Sucias - Kristan Sprague
  • Room - Nathan Nugent
  • Spotlight - Tom McCardle

We have an interview coming up with Nathan Nugent. Stay tuned.

FIRST FEATURE

  • Diary of a Teenage Girl
  • James White
  • Manos Sucias
  • Mediterranea
  • Songs My Brothers Taught Me

One of their most valuable categories in that it draws attention to very low profile films... which "fiercely independent" prizes should.

FIRST SCREENPLAY

  • Diary of a Teenage Girl - Marielle Heller
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - Jesse Andrews
  • Mediterranea - Jonas Carpignano
  • The Mend - John Magary, Russell Harbaugh, Myna Joseph
  • Room - Emma Donoghue

JOHN CASSAVETTES AWARD
(Best Feature on a Budget of less than 1/2 a million)

  • Advantageous
  • Christmas, Again
  • Heaven Knows What
  • Krisha
  • Out of My Hand

Question: did they opt out of Tangerine because it was nominated for Best Feature or did they simply not think of it as a cheaply produced movie?

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
(Not eligible in other categories)

Go see MUSTANG. It's out now

  • Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia)
  • Girlhood (France)
  • Mustang (France/Turkey)
  • A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Sweden)
  • Son of Saul (Hungary)

All but Girlhood are also Oscar candidates this year for Best Foreign Language Film. Girlhood is not eligible because each country can only choose 1 representing film for Oscar and France went with Mustang. Because this category also includes British films there are sometimes English language films in the mix (though not this time). For example this year The Danish Girl and Suffragette were not eligible for the Spirit Awards except in this category.

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • Best of Enemies
  • Heart of a Dog
  • The Look of Silence
  • Meru
  • The Russian Woodpecker
  • (T)error

KIEHL'S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
(A $25,000 grant for emerging filmmakers)

  • Robert Machoiana & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck (God Bless the Child)
  • Felix Thompson (King Jack, reviewed at Tribeca)
  • Chloé Zhao (Songs My Brother Taught Me)

PIAGET PRODUCER'S AWARD
(A $25,000 grant for resourceful creative tenacious producers)

  • Darren Dean (Tangerine, H.O.M.E.)
  • Mel Eslyn (The One I Love, Lamb)
  • Rebecca Green & Laura D Smith (I'll See You In My Dreams)

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
(A $25,000 grant for emerging documentarians)

  • Alex Sichel & Elizabeth Giamatti (A Woman Like Me)
  • Hemal Trivedi & Mohammed Ali Naqvi (Among the Believers)
  • Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (Incorruptible)

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Reader Comments (36)

Love most of the nominations but iam disappointed that Cliff Curtis ' The Dark Horse' wasn't nominated for best male lead, it's the best male lead performance of the year! !!

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I'm loving these nominations, almost top to bottom. I'm still hoping that Cynthia Nixon can somehow get enough momentum to get into the Supporting Actress race at the Oscars. Especially if Rooney Mara does end up campaigning as a lead (which she should) it would free up space in supporting which is looking very diffuse at the moment.

I feel like people are going to say that Room not showing up all over the place indicates something in terms of how it will be received by Oscar, but I still expect it to show up there in all sorts of places including Best Picture.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKieran Scarlett

Nat: I'm guessing they really didn't think of it as a cheaply produced movie. I mean, it's got an actor from The Wire, after all!

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Maybe the producers get to choose whether to compete in the regular category or the John Cassavetes category. Either way, go Tangerine! Too bad about James Ransone and the cinematoghy prize. (It was beautifully shot)

Sorry about the omission of Elizabeth Banks for Supporting Actress. And was The Second Mother eligible in the International category?

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterken s

Does anyone know what the story is with Brooklyn??? Was it eligible for any of these categories and got shutout (i'm glad it was as it's tough to imagine TWO 50s melodramas getting Best Picture Oscar nominations).

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjake

Songs My Brothers Taught Me is a lovely film, so I'm happy to see it nominated here. Also Robin Bartlett's mesmerizing in H. is a treat to see here (the movie is a little weird, but she's SO GOOD in it). Living in Mexico, I haven't seen most of these films (the ones I have seen have been because of Guanajuato and Morelia Film Festivals), so I'll have to look most of these up (and I need to see Beasts of No Nation, it's on Netflix for crying out loud...

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

I'm thinking maybe Brooklyn is ineligible because it's not American. Sometimes they fudge that, like the year they let The Artist in. In this case, Brooklyn was produced almost entirely by Irish and UK production companies, so it would have been a stretch to let it in.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKieran Scarlett

jake: No, Brooklyn wasn't shut out. It was ineligible for everything but International Film. Honestly, it's probably in a stronger position than Carol.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Does anyone know the distribution plan for James White? Is it in theaters now? Did I miss it/will it come to middle America art houses? Is it on vod? I wish I lived in New York! My art theater I go to still says Tangerine is coming soon but I think it's already on DVD...

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJonn

I know nothing about the film she's in, but I was also delighted to see a nomination for Robin Bartlett! I've loved her work in so many things over the years.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBiggs

Jonn -- James White is only in NY and they were waiting to see how it plays there before adding cities. but from my understanding its' not on VOD and they're hoping to expand. and yes Tangerine is already on DVD.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Doubtful awards bodies care now about category fraud. More so there is nothing going on exciting for them in Lead Actress where they go why the hell not.

Mara should stick to supporting unless the Academy pulls a Winslet.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Good god, based on what I've seen so far this year, this entire set of nomination is just staggeringly amazingly astounding.

Yaaaay for Bel Powley and Cynthia Nixon and Sean Baker and Tangerine for Best Picture and Girlhood and Embrace of the Serpent and Krisha and so on and so on.

I also love that the Spirits would even consider a performance as obscure as Koudous Seihon's in (the really solid) Mediterranea.

I actually just walked out of Tangerine 15 minutes ago and I'm still buzzing. I'm a bit surprised about the hype of the two leads since I found their acting spotty at best (unlike some of the supporting performances, which were genius - especially the actress who played Dinah). But the entire film was just mind blowingly fun. I wasn't prepared for how much I loved it. I almost find it underrated.

Meantime I finally get to see Carol this Friday. I can't breathe.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered Commentergoran

I would prefer they are both in Lead just to show the way forward in the future,be honest people.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMARK

These seem to be some pretty great nominations. Glad they haven't just tried to sense the way the wind is blowing Oscar-wise. Being in the UK, haven't seen them most of them, but Anomalisa, Beasts Of No Nation and Tangerine seem to be exactly what the Spirits were created to recognise.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterThe Jack

Really happy about the nominations for Bone Tomahawk. It is a great ensemble but Jenkins is best in show IMO. Great script too. Zahler's direction does not always live up to the quality of the writing and acting, but it is a very good, tough western.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

So happy for David Robert Mitchell's nomination. So few horror movies look that beautiful, and interweave comedy so well into their scares, and build such great characters. Good job, Spirit Awards.

Surprised they left out names like Keaton, Ruffalo, or even Tucci for much lesser known supporting players (don't mean it in a bad way, just saying it's surprising). A lot of these categories really feel indie.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

I was expecting to see 45 Years in the International category.

Can't believe Tomlin got snubbed.

I'm also rooting for Cynthia Nixon

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

The male acting categories don't seem to be coming into focus at all. Weak year?

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBD

As a veteran hater of Paul Dano, his work is much deserving of recognition in that film.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Zitzelman

Goran -- i feel the same about Tangerine. love the movie and those ladies so much but it's not "great acting" so much as its just really clever visceral filmmaking. but still the movie is so deserving of honors that it's great to see people passionate about it in the way of awardage.

November 24, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Good to see Ben Mendelsohn get a nod - he's been such an amazing presence in all of his films since Animal Kingdom - but the nuance he brings to the perpetual loser role (it's a William H. Macy kinda character) is superb.

Fingers crossed this nod will lead to more people seeing Mississippi Grind.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBJT

YAAAAY!!! for Beasts of No Nations

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterrick

I'm sorry Tomlin was left out, but I sense a turnaround here, which is a good thing. The last 5 or so years, they've just become a replica of the Oscars.

I'm suspicious as to how most of the films that won their big prizes over the last few years were allowed to compete. How do they verify production budgets in borderline cases? Do they just take the studio's word for it? It would appear so - Silver Linings Playbook, 12 Years a Slave, Birdman are all suspicious cases to me.

Perhaps there weren't any similar borderline cases this year (though there were European films they could have declared "American," just as they did The Artist), but I'm still impressed they didn't just nominate, say, Love and Mercy and Room for Best Picture and John Cusack and Bryan Cranston for Best Actor, which is what they would have done last year or the year before.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I think it's really cool that only three (Larson, Blanchett, and Mara albeit in a different category) of the twenty acting nominees are top contenders for the Oscars. It really feels like they're doing their own thing and not playing the Oscar game. Nice to see the Independent Spirit Awards having some indie spirit!

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Cynthia Nixon Needs A Push BIGTIME.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMARK

So am I correct that The Witch was eligible? And it couldn't manage a single nod? That's depressing.

i can't help but believe that if The Witch received a proper release in 2015 it would be all over these charts.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C.

This is the first time a voice performance is nominated in a high-profile award group. I do feel actors are not comfortable seeing a voice performance as a full performance, however, John Hurt was nominated for an Oscar for The Elephant Man, which in a way is not very different from motion capture, meaning that our gestures and body language will be captured. What sets Jennifer Jason Leigh's performance apart from all the other real contenders in the past is that she is not playing a fish, a genie, an ape, a creature or an electronic device(Her). She is playing a human being and the co-director from Anomalisa said they referred almost exclusively to Jennifer's recording sessions (which were videotaped) to create the movements and expressions of the character. So, it is her performance after all.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMr.Goodbar

Phew, glad to know that Brooklyn just wasn't eligible. I'd be pissed if it missed out that clearly.

I am surprised that the boy (Jacob Tremblay maybe?) wasn't nominated since there has been so much buzz.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Hollywood

Why are we not hearing anything about Cynthia Nixon? I mean, not a word ... from anyone.

PS - can you say EGOT? She has two Emmys, a Tony, and a Grammy! :)

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBillyHeldAnOscar

So stoked for Nixon. Here's hoping for a best Supp Act nomination on Oscar's morning.

I don't think I'm worried about Brooklyn. I'm expecting BAFTA to push hard for it, and it is being so very well received.

November 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJones

Really happy about Marin Ireland's nomination for "Glass Chin". More people should see it. I recommend this little movie if you're in mood for something rather weird but rewarding. It's filled with deceptively simple long shots and surprising cameos. Also, Billy Crudup is amazing in it.

November 25, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterflatbeat

To be honest, the Mya Taylor as supporting thing doesn't bother me one bit. Sure, Taylor is in it almost as much as Kiki, but her story is not the thrust of the narrative. It's a much different story to Blanchett and Mara who you could not take one of them out and have a movie. Take out Mya Taylor and there's still a movie there. That's my thinking, anyway. As for TANGERINE not being up for the Cassavetes award... Phyllis Nagy also wasn't nominated for First Screenplay despite getting a regular screenplay nomination so I figure they're just levelling the playing field a bit there. Maybe?

As for the nominations? I am super stoked by them. I'm glad they decided to recognise a lot of off the radar choices and not just the standard obvious titles (no Room for instance). The male acting categories are so exciting for a change! All the CAROL love. So many interesting left field choices. For the first time in years I feel like they're doing what they're meant to be doing. Sure, that's likely more a result of the year in general leaning heavily towards bigger productions and British fare, but still. No THE ARTIST or SILVER LININGS bullshit this year.

Also, I believe I said on Joe's prediction piece that IT FOLLOWS would go down well. It sure did. And glad for it, too. Much better than THE WITCH, I say.

November 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Greta Gerwig & Jacob Trembla were snubbed!!, Guess it was packed yr for Indie actresses & actors??

So exciting abt the Actress race!! tink its between the Carol's ladies

November 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Kinda surprised Elizabeth Banks and Kristen Wiig missed in Supporting Actress; Cynthia Nixon has the win in the bag.

November 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

@Mr.Goodbar "This is the first time a voice performance is nominated in a high-profile award group."
Actually, Eddie Murphy was nominated for "Shrek" at the BAFTAS, back in 2001 ;)

Other I can think of:
Robin Williams won a special Golden Globe & MTV Movie Award for 'Aladdin'. More recently, Ellen DeGeneres ("Finding Nemo") won a critics award for supporting performance.

November 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

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