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Tuesday
Nov222016

"American Honey" & "Moonlight" lead the Spirit Award Nominations

Nominations have been announced for the 20th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards, which we generally abbreviate as "Indie Spirits" or "Spirits". American Honey and Moonlight, two idiosyncratic visions, lead with six nominations each. Moonlight, which takes the ensemble prize (but wasn't nominated for individual performances) will also presumably be hot with Oscars. The two other Oscar Best Picture contenders that did very well at the Spirits today were Jackie and Manchester by the Sea. Other People, the cancer dramedy loosely based on the directors own life, can also be very happy about its nomination showing. Other buzzy titles like Hell or High Water, 20th Century Women, and Loving had mixed success, picking up some key nods but not others despite their high profiles.

Moonlight receives six Spirit nominations... and seems likely to win a few of them.

 And here are two big reasons to celebrate -- Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) and Isabelle Huppert (Elle) were both nominated. Oscar nominations are hardly done deals for either of those exquisite performances so any attention that can be drawn is worth celebrating. The full list with commentary after the jump (titles links go to our reviews)...

Best Feature

Chronic, the lowest profile of these nominees, is a Michel Franco film about a home care nurse (Tim Roth) who works with the terminally ill

Best Director

  • Andrea Arnold (American Honey)
  • Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
  • Pablo Larrain (Jackie)
  • Jeff Nichols (Loving)
  • Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women)

Not the same list, jettisoning two feature nominees (Manchester and Chronic) for Jeff Nichols (Loving) who is a darling of the Spirit Awards with three previous nominations in this category and more surprisingly Kelly Reichardt who you'd think would be an Indie Spirit ficture but who actually isn't; This is her first directing nomination there. 

Best First Feature

We've done some cheerleading for three of these titles across this year. Your host here (c'est moi) is not particularly fond of Swiss Army Man but this is a damn strong list that makes you hopeful for the future of cinema.  The lowest profile nominee is actor Brady Corbet's directorial debut Childhood of a Leader. Brady Corbet is well liked in the indie film community appearing in just about every indie hit you can think of over the past several years and from multiple countries, too. Make sure to read Murtada's interview with Chris Kelly!

Best Male Lead

  • Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
  • David Harewood (Free in Deed)
  • Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
  • Jesse Plemons (Other People)
  • Tim Roth (Chronic)

Tough break for Joel Edgerton missing here. Loving has been smartly selling he and Negga as a unit but its true that the bulk of the Best in Show reviews belong to her. The lowest profile nominee here is an indie about a Pentecostal minister (David Harewood) who attempts a faith healing.

Best Female Lead

  • Annette Bening (20th Century Women)
  • Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
  • Sasha Lane (American Honey)
  • Ruth Negga (Loving)
  • Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Wow. We could have as much as four of these ladies transferring over to Oscar's correlative list. Exciting times at the Indie Spirits

Best Supporting Male

  • Ralph Fiennes (A Bigger Splash)
  • Ben Foster (Hell or High Water)
  • Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
  • Shia LaBeouf (American Honey)
  • Craig Robinson (Morris from America)

Fiennes gets A Bigger Splash's sole nomination but so deserving. Foster is the only acting nominee for Hell or High Water. So happy to see Craig Robinson here, too, as Morris From America -- a film about a rap loving father and son transplanted to Germany for the dad's job -- is really endearing and deserves a bigger audience.

Best Supporting Female

  • Edwina Findley (Free in Deed)
  • Paulina Garcia (Little Men)
  • Lily Gladstone (Certain Women)
  • Riley Keough (American Honey)
  • Molly Shannon (Other People)

 

Little Men deserved more attention so this is a nice surprise to see García here -- read Jose's interview with that Chilean actress, please. 

Best Screenplay

  • Hell or High Water
  • Little Men
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight
  • 20th Century Women

Great category. Some of these should expect Oscar nominations, too.

Best First Screenplay

  • Barry
  • Christine
  • Jean of the Joneses
  • Other People
  • The Witch

The Witch deserved better at the Spirits but I get it. Genre films aren't taken as seriously as straight dramas with with voters in any awards group context. Happy to see it here, at least.

Best International Film

Hmmm. Curious group, right? There are 3 Oscar submissions this time, Chevalier, the ubiquitous Toni Erdmann (which really should be in theaters already to capitalize on the conversation), and Under the Shadow. Color me impressed that Under the Shadow has managed to get as much attention as it has in the past few months.

Best Documentary Feature

Best Cinematography

  • American Honey - Robbie Ryan
  • Childhood of a Leader -Lol Crawley
  • Free in Deed - Ava Berkofsky
  • Eyes of My Mother - Zach Kuperstein
  • Moonlight - James Laxton

Oscar is much more traditional in what they like in cinematography than the Spirits are but we have to hope that Moonlight will transfer. 

Best Editing

  • Hell or High Water - Jake Roberts 
  • Jackie - Sebastian Sepulveda
  • Manchester by the Sea - Jennifer Lame
  • Moonlight - Joe McMillon & Nat Sanders
  • Swiss Army Man - Matthew Hannam

Some Oscar contenders here, surely. I think we should all memorize the name Nat Sanders and not just because he shares my name. He also edited Short Term 12 so he's already got two superb movies under his belt. If I were an actor wanting my best moments personally captured in the final cut, I'd be asking for him. 

John Cassavetes Award

  • Free in Deed
  • Hunter Gatherer
  • Lovesong
  • Nakom
  • Spa Night

This category is for low budget features (anything under $500,000). Lovely to see Spa Night get some more accolades. It's a good one but it never got much attention in its tiny release earning only $37,534 dollars in US theaters. 

Robert Altman Award

  • Moonlight (this ensemble prize goes to the director, cast, and casting director so all the Chirons and all the Kevins are rewarded plus Mahershara Ali and Naomie Harris)

Piaget Producers Award

  • Lisa Kjerulff (she produced The Fits and Americana)
  • Jordana Mollick (she produced Night Owls and Hello My Name is Doris)
  • Melody C. Roscher (she produced Christine)
  • Craig Shilowich (he also produced Christine)

Truer Than Fiction Award

  • Kristi Jacobson (Solitary)
  • Sara Jordeno (Kiki)
  • Nanfu Wang (Holligan Sparrow)

Someone to Watch Award

  • Andrew Ahn (Spa Night)
  • Claire Carre (Embers)
  • Anna Rose Holmer (The Fits)
  • Ingrid Jungermann (Women Who Kill)

 

THOUGHTS? WE'D LOVE TO HEAR 'EM. 

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Reader Comments (37)

No Williams No Harris.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMARKGORDONUK

Mark Gordon - WOW. you're right. i didn't notice the Williams thing though the Harris thing makes sense given their ensemble prize.

November 22, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Is this really happening for Isabelle? I can't get my hopes up too high, but this is exciting.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Actually three submissions in Foreign Film: Toni Erdmann as well, of course.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Why was Huppert eligible for this? It's a GLORIOUS performance that I'm happy to see recognized but the Indie Spirits don't usually nominate foreign films, right?

That supporting actor lineup is pretty much perfect.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterFrancesa

I wished Sonia Braga would be remembered.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTony Fernando

Actually, there are three Oscar submissions nominated for International Film. Toni Erdmann is Germany's submission at the Oscars. I look forward to your opinion of that movie, I saw it a few weeks ago and loved parts of it, but found other parts a little off-putting (and the movie's running time, I feel, works against it). Surprised to see My Golden Days there (a film I liked, but thought Elle was better).

It's interesting to see Chronic here (I saw that movie over a year ago and remember being impressed by it and an interesting mini-departure for Michel Franco in style). Tim Roth is terrific in that movie, so I'm glad he's nominated. Of course, I'll be rooting for Casey Affleck. I know many people aroound here were underwhelmed, but I think that performance pulls off something very tricky, pulling the audience into that character's pain without the character ever asking for it. It's not easy to play a guy who goes through life feeling he doesn't deserve any kind of happiness, carrying a guilt that he can't even begin to free himself of (and while I was also expecting greater catharsis, I like the way the movie handled it, not resolving the story by the end but taking it in a direction that hints at healing).

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

I don't think it hinders Williams chances she is a darling,in a likely BP nominee,could win & most people say THAT scene is a wonder..

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMARKGORDONUK

So excited for the American Honey and Moonlight love. Honestly, it's a pretty strong list overall. Re: comments on the cinematography noms, what on earth does Robbie Ryan have to do to get AMPAS attention! Grr!

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersfenton24

francesca - i wondered that too. i dont remember them nominated foreign language work before but perhaps i'm just forgetting.

everyone -- sorry on toni erdmann. it goes without saying. where was my brain. fixed.

November 22, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

is the huppert nomination some type of fraud?

(or is that ok cause it's huppert?)

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

nathaniel,

there are instances of foreign performances being nominated, such as wei tang from "lust, caution"... but that movie had an american production, which does not seem to be the case with "elle" (not known until this nomination at least).

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

RALPH FIENNES RALPH FIENNES RALPH FIENNES

Very happy for a nice showing for The Fits, too.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I have good feelings about basically all of these categories (even though Chronic was semi-terrible, it's such a bold interesting film and nomination choice, you have to forgive). But I especially love the Foreign Film slate (Aquarius! Erdmann! Desplechin!Under the Shadow!) and of course Huppert

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commentergoran

I am sad that Weiner missed out. I guess it's because of all that has happened since the film was released.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEz

I'm having a lot of trouble with Lucas Hedges as a supporting actor. Only me?

SO thrilled for "American Honey."

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

"Wow. We could have as much as four of these ladies transferring over to Oscar's correlative list. Exciting times at the Indie Spirits."

This is not a good thing. This organization has lost its independent spirit to become just another Oscar precursor. They're willing to bend their own eligibility rules just to recognize films with a lot of Oscar buzz (Silver Linings Playbook had a budget exceeding 20 million dollars and won Best Feature in 2012. The Artist was eligible despite being a foreign production, etc).

True independent films are overlooked year after year to make room for films and performances that are going to be nominated everywhere else.

Rebecca Hall's omission for Christine really stings. It's a brilliant performance that everyone has decided to ignore.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Can we talk about how perfect that director lineup is and savour it because no other lineup this season will be as unique and diverse?

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMorganb

I am SO HAPPY for Isabelle, Sasha, Ralph, Shia, Paulina, and Lily!!!

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

"The Witch deserved better at the Spirits but I get it. Genre films aren't taken as seriously as straight dramas with with voters in any awards group context."

But just last year this same group nominated It Follows and Bone Tomahawk in major categories, so I'm still disappointed by its weak showing.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

Such goodness to be found! It has an eclectic bunch of films and is chock full of inclusivity with women, POC, and the LGBTQ+ community being represented.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMatt St.Clair

MarkgordonUK: I think it's delusional to think this doesn't knock Michelle down at LEAST four positions (probably a couple more), though. My 10 in the Supporting Actress category with this miss incorporated:

1. Viola Davis, Fences
2. Naomie Harris, Moonlight (She got the ensemble prize, so she didn't REALLY miss)
3. Tilda Swinton, Doctor Strange
4. Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky
5. Molly Shannon, Other People (Yeah, not to beat around the bush, but, though not EVERY Indie Spirit nom actually helps Oscar chances, this is a HUGE get, especially with Williams missing completely.)
6. Nicole Kidman, Lion (Does Lion live through that 10-15% drop of small sample to large sample? I wouldn't be sure.)
7. Lupita Nyong'o, Queen of Katwe
8. Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea (Yeah, I think this is a TUMBLE moment for her.)
9. Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women (And for Gerwig too. These movies are definition Spirit bait and these performances miss the Spirits? Not good for their chances.)
10. Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

And Supporting Actor:

1. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
2. Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
3. Alan Rickman, Eye in the Sky
4. Peter Sarsgaard, Jackie (I don't think he's AS hurt here as Williams or Gerwig are. 1. It's a prestige biopic, which neither 20thCW or Manchester are, which Spirits are LESS interested in (impossible to be completely UN-interested, but less) than Oscar is and 2. He's un-nominated at Oscar but ISN'T un-nominated at the Spirits.)
5. John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane
6. Timothy Spall, Denial
7. Liam Neeson, Silence (I know he's "bigger", but it's also in a MUCH junkier way than it was at his first nomination. Walk those Tombstones, get those kids Taken, you know it to be true.)
8. Lucas Hedges, Manchester By the Sea
9. Dev Patel, Lion (Do his nomination prospects live through the likely 10-15% drop going from small sample to large sample will cause? I wouldn't actually think so.)
10. Ben Foster, Hell or High Water (That Indie Spirit threw themselves behind Foster implies the broader critical community might decide to go there as well instead of Bridges.)

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Self: Forgot to say, Chappie, at the end of the Dev Patel brackets.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I'm happy that "Under the sun" got best documentary nom. Fully deserved! One of the best and most exciting documentaries of the year.
Equally happy that they remembered Ralph Fiennes in A bigger splash. I think it's his best work ever.
Hoped for more recognition for Captain Fantastic, but at least Viggo is in.
And last but not least, nice to see The childhood of a leader to get at least some recognition :)

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKrister

Mike -- that's a good point. I didn't mean to imply that it's good if the lists match. I am on record in many years wishing the indie spirits would stay indie rather than be Another Precursor. But since those are all really good performances, it's hard to complain.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nice list but is La La Land not qualified?

Huppert nom is the only nom here? Strange it din get a nom in foreign film cat

Am excited o e BA list!!!

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Budget of La La Land is $20 m + so ineligible.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Good for Ben Foster and Ralph Fiennes. But no Harris and no Edgerton is just wrong.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

Love the love for Huppert, Toni Erdman, Ruth Negga, Ralph Fiennes and Manchester by the Sea.

Sad there is no inclusion of Tilda Swinton in A Bigger Splash or even Huppert in the little-seen Louder than Bombs. Also sad for the non-inclusion of Michelle Williams and especially Rebecca Hall in Christine. That is in my top 5 female performances of the year, supporting and lead.

November 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

2 female directors is reason enough to rejoice!

And very happy for Fiennes!! He should be walking away with that Oscar, they owe him, and it's the best performance of his career. Why is he not breaking anybody's top 5? I don't get it?

November 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJB

Volvagia, what is this "10-15% drop going from small sample to large sample" you're talking about for LION? I can't for the life of me figure it out.

Two women nominated for Best Director! Love seeing Lily Gladstone deservedly nominated. Craig Robinson!

Need to see all of those Casavetes nominees, pronto. That's always the most interesting category.

November 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I wish I had seen American Honey when it was in theatres but it had a blink and you miss it release.

I am continuously confused by the Indie Spirit's eligibility requirements from year-to-year. I thought the films nominated in major categories had to be American productions and have a less than $20 mil budget...so how did Isabelle Huppert and Ralph Fiennes get nominated? Not that I'm angry...I'm thrilled actually, but neither one of those films are U.S. productions. Remember in 2010 how The King's Speech had to settle for a Best International Film award because they weren't eligible in other categories? Perhaps they changed this rule?

November 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

For those who ask why Elle is eligible, the rules say that to be eligible, a member of the production is required to be either American or resident in the United States. I understand that David Birke (the scriptwriter) is American and the director (Paul Verhoeven) lives in the United States.

November 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHarmodio

Glenn - agreed on the Cassavettes awards. It's always "oooh, what's this?" which is more what the Spirits should be doing, highlighting true indies that are easy to miss. Sadly I must confess I often forget about them in the heat of awards season and fail to find them thereafter. when the next year starts up.

November 23, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

They overlooked Rebecca Hall for her amazing performance in CHRISTINE and the cinematography for HELL OR HIGH WATER.

November 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohnny Hintergardt

re eligibility as a US independent - Harmodio is correct (mostly). The actual rule is that Americans or U.S. residents must fill two out of three of the following roles: director, producer, or writer. Verhoeven & Birke do that for ELLE. (For the Gotham Awards, the rule is Americans or U.S. residents must fill either the director or producer role - thus ELLE was also eligible for them because of Verhoeven's US residency.)

[The Spirits have an alternate US qualifying rule if the above doesn't apply - if the locale or subject matter is substantially American, a film can qualify as American - like THE ARTIST, previously.]

A BIGGER SPLASH qualified for the Spirit Awards because of the presence of American producer Michael Costigan and American screenwriter David Kajganich.

November 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTabb

Glenn: RT Scores. Sorry I wasn't clear.

November 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

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