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.
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)...
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
- 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
- The Childhood of a Leader - Brady Corbet
- The Fits - Anna Rose Holmer
- Other People - Chris Kelly
- Swiss Army Man - Daniels
- The Witch - Robert Eggers
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.
- Hell or High Water
- Little Men
- Manchester by the Sea
- 20th Century Women
Great category. Some of these should expect Oscar nominations, too.
Best First Screenplay
- 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
- Aquarius (Brazil)
- Chevalier (Greece)
- My Golden Days (France)
- Toni Erdmann (Germany)
- Under the Shadow (UK | Iran)
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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.