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The Spirit Award Nominations are Here

by Nathaniel R

Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians) and former Spirit Award winner Molly Shannon (Other People) announced the Spirit nominations for the 2018 film year. No film truly dominated the announcement because, while We the Animals led with 5 nominations (YAYYYY) it wasn't nominated in the top category. Eighth Grade, First Reformed, and You Were Never Really Here each had 4 nominations. The highest profile expected contenders with not so great results this morning were BlacKkKlansman (only Adam Driver was recognized) and Can You Ever Forgive Me? (the Screenplay and Richard E Grant only). 

so happy for this little gem!

An important note before the full list of nominees: Unlike other major awards bodies, film festival releases are (sometimes) eligible here, overseas films even if they're in english are (mostly) ineligible outside of foreign film, and anything over a $20 million budget is (usually) ineligible here, so the eligibility pool is slightly different. Some examples of 'not eligible' this year for those reasons are: The Hate U Give and Beautiful Boy (too expensive) The Rider (festivals and nominated last year), Roma and The Favorite (both foreign film only though The Favourite led the Gotham nods). The Spirit Awards has multiple nominating committees assigned to different categories. Even better they meet several times throughout the fall before selecting the nominees which is, we think, why the nominations sometimes have a better spread of titles (in terms of release dates) than the Oscars do.


The full list of nominees along with a few comments are after the jump...


  • Eighth Grade (A24)
  • First Reformed (A24)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna)
  • Leave No Trace (Bleecker Street)
  • You Were Never Really Here (Amazon)

The big surprise here is surely You Were Never Really Here, which bowed at festivals in 2017 and was an early year release. Of these films only Eighth Grade didn't show up in Best Director (though Burnham was nominated for "First Film") 


  • Glenn Close, The Wife
  • Toni Colette, Hereditary
  • Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
  • Regina Hall, Support the Girls
  • Helena Howard, Madeline's Madeline
  • Carey Mulligan, Wildlife

Six nominees there so the voting must have been tight. Close, Hall, and Howard were the lone nominees from their films. You have to wonder what's happening to Melissa McCarthy though. She's now missed both the Gotham and Spirit nominations while Richard E Grant, her onscreen partner in crime is a solid presence in supporting. They're both just marvelous in the movie.

We're very pleased to see Colette and Mulligan here since they still seem like longshots for the Oscar nod.


  • John Cho, Searching
  • Daveed Diggs, Blindspotting
  • Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
  • Christian Malheiros, Socrates
  • Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here

Interestingly unexpected results. No Ben Foster for Leave No Trace


  • Kayli Carter, Private Life
  • Tyne Daly, A Bread Factory
  • Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Leave No Trace
  • J. Smith-Cameron, Nancy

 They even do category fraud at the Spirit Awards where it's hardly 'necessary' for honors. What on earth is McKenzie doing here when Leave No Trace rests entirely on her shoulders (she's onscreen even when Foster isn't!). 

We love it when the indie spirits go really indie. A Bread Factory, which we hadn't heard of, has made $17,325 in release from a distributor we hadn't heard of called "In the Family." Nancy had a slightly higher profile given the star (Andrea Riseborough) and made $80,000 from the distributor Samuel Goldwyn.


  • Raul Castillo, We the Animals
  • Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
  • Richard E Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Josh Hamilton, Eighth Grade
  • John David Washington, Monsters and Men

Exciting category! Thrilled to see Castillo get some recognition. And how about that. Washington missed for BlacKkKlansman but you can pretend he didn't since he was nominated for acting this year.

Which honors the director, casting director, and ensemble cast. There are never nominees announced, only a winner.

  • Suspiria 

A truly curveball choice as it isn't much of an "actor's picture" with the bulk of the cast outside Tilda (who plays three roles) and Dakota Johnson just sort of mulling about the edges of the frame giving people sinister looks. I mean they're really good sinister looks but this is a total headscratcher. 


  • Hereditary (Ari Aster)
  • Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley)
  • The Tale (Jennifer Fox)
  • We the Animals (Jeremiah Zagar)
  • Wildlife (Paul Dano)

Another truly exciting category. Any of them would look good on the Spirits as a future winner. 


  • Debra Granik, Leave No Trace
  • Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Tamara Jenkins, Private Life
  • Lynne Ramsay, You Were Never Really Here
  • Paul Schrader, First Reformed

The Spirit Awards are saying they don't mind the streaming only way of releasing movies with all these Private Life nominations. 


  • Colette
  • Can you Ever Forgive Me?
  • First Reformed
  • Private Life
  • Sorry to Bother You

A sentimental nod for the late Richard Glatzer (Still Alice, Grief) as he started work on Colette before he died. 


  • Blame
  • Eighth Grade
  • Nancy
  • Tale
  • Thoroughbreds 


  • Madeline's Madeline  (Ashley Connor)
  • Mandy  (Benjamin Loeb)
  • Suspiria  (Sayombhu Mukdeeprom)
  • We the Animals  (Zak Mulligan)
  • Wildlife  (Diego Garcia)

A shocker to see If Beale Street Could Talk miss here despite the Best Feature nomination. 


  • American Animals 
  • Mid 90s
  • The Tale
  • We the Animals
  • You Were Never Really Here 

An iconoclastic category since only one of the Spirit Awards Best Feature nominees is included (You Were Never Really Here


  • Burning (South Korea)
  • The Favourite (UK)
  • Happy as Lazzaro (Italy)
  • Roma (Mexico)
  • Shoplifters (Japan)

Gorgeous list! The Favourite and Happy as Lazarro are not eligible in the parallel category at the Oscars. The other three could find themselves nominees, though given the hoopla. 


  • Minding the Gap
  • On her Shoulders
  • Won't You Be My Neighbor

Minding the Gap has really been cleaning up in documentary awards the past two weeks. It's available on Hulu if you're curious.  

This is a feature film prize for truly independent movies made for under $500,000.

Tyne Daly! We love her. Why haven't we heard of "A Bread Factory"

  • A Bread Factory
  • En El Septimo Dia
  • Never Goin' Back
  • Socrates
  • Thunder Road


BONNIE AWARD (mid career female director)
$50,000 grant. Not for a specific film though they directed Leave No Trace, Private Life, and Destroyer this year

  • Debra Granik 
  • Tamara Jenkins
  • Karyn Kusama


This prize is not for a specific film though they produced Sorry to Bother You, Little Woods, and a bunch of small films, respectively this year.

  • Jonathan Duffy and Kelly Williams
  • Gabrielle Nadig
  • Shrihari Sathe


$25,000 grant for an emerging filmmaker

  • Alex Moratto, Socrates 
  • Ioana Uricaru, Lemonade
  • Jeremiah Zagar, We the Animals


$25,000 grant for a documentary filmmaker

  • Alexandria Bombach, On Her Shoulders
  • Bing Liu, Minding the Gap
  • RaMell Ross, Hale County This Morning This Evening

What do you make of the nominations?




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Reader Comments (59)

It seems like a weak showing for Beale Street. I would have expected it to make Cinematography and Screenplay. Then again, I said that about The Shape of Water last year, so I can't put too much stock in these awards as predictors of the Oscars.

I'm very happy for First Reformed, the only film with Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Acting nominations.

Interesting contests - Foreign Film (Roma v. The Favourite, I assume, but I love Shoplifters) and Actress (Close v. Collette, I assume, but I would vote for Fisher).

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Not a great showing for Can You Ever Fprgive Me? No picture, director, or McCarthy. Needed boosts to Eighth Grade and First Reformed though.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMJS

The Documentary category is incomplete. There are 6 nominees.

Off the bat, two weirdnesses: 6 nominees for Best Actress, yet no Melissa McCarthy? And BlacKkKlansman gets only one nomination? Hmmm.

On a personal note, sad that The Wife got only one nomination, and Leave No Trace's Ben Foster (who won Supporting Actor 2 years ago) didn't get a Best Actor nomination.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

Glad to not see Blackkklasman at the nominees. I saw it yesterday and it is a good movie, the best of Spike Lee in ages, but... Only good. O n l y g o o d. I am trying to understand the grand jury prize in Cannes and I think that Ava Duvernay being part of the jury is the answer for it.

Glad for Suspiria. ❤️👏🏻

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjon

I'm sure Nathaniel will talk about this in his commentary, but I'd like to point out... Best Director is 60% women!!!! Has that ever happened before at the Spirits?...

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

That Best Male Lead category is nicely diverse but kinda weak, no? No John David Washington, who managed a nomination for his other film?

And as has been said, no Beale Street in cinematography?! Crazy!

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

So happy for Cho and Collette. If only they had a shot in hell at winning at the Oscars (or even here).

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

McCarthy was snubbed at Gotham and the Spirits. Is this a sign of things to come or will she come through?

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterevangelina

Like others have echoed, with them spreading the wealth it leads to some odd snubs.

Its crazy Beale Street didn't get a cinematography nod. Laxton's work is the best of the year. Screenplay and Editing felt like sure bets too.

After the Gotham's, this trend of Driver being the only nod for Blackkklansman needs to stop.

Bummer Can You Ever Forgive Me didn't do better. One of the best films of the year deserving more than nods for Grant and screenplay.

I never doubted Close was a contender but I'm curious how far Colette is going to go or does it end here?

On the plus side, I'm glad to see Carey Mulligan, Josh Hamilton, Daveed Diggs, and Raul Castillo get recognized.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMya

Thomasin McKenzie as SUPPORTING actress? These people are absolutely nuts. Next you're going to tell me Keisha Castle-Hughes was supporting in "Whale Rider"...

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Thrilled to see Carey finally getting some traction here, but Melissa is clearly in trouble. And while it is beyond exciting to see thee female directors in the race, I'm extremely disappointed Marielle Heller isn't one of them, as I like her film (and her work in general) far more than those of the three who got in, and of the four of them, I think she's the only one with a realistic chance at an Oscar nom. But still, exciting! Also so great to see Regina Hall recognized for her wonderful work in Support the Girls.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJes V.

Jonathan -- what's even more absurd about this is that it's a committee. you got all those people discussing it and they AGREE to the blatant fraud though they could just as easily shove her in lead actress? Annoying.

November 16, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

O/T but MAJOR NEWS - Warner's is launching the Filmstruck Criterion Channel as a standalone service in Spring. If you sign up as a Charter Subscriber, you get a discount. YAAAAAAAY!!!!

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

While there are nominations I'd rather have seen this list is overall great. The showing by We the Animals today even makes me more want to see the film.

The Close train continues and she should easily win the award and hopefully other televised awards follow suit (can we also stop people doubting her nomination)

I think Driver being the representative is icky and hopefully changes soon.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEoin Daly

murtada -- WHOOPS. I miscounted. Intro text changed!

November 16, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Seeing Carey Mulligans nomination made me realise how much I hope she's nominated for her beautiful work in Wildlife.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKeegan

Madeline's Madeline is up for cinematography. Howard isn't lone for that film.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Year after year it seems like the Gotham Awards do what the Spirit Awards are supposed to do.

I say we strap on a couple supporting categories and hold *those* the day before the Oscars.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

Happy for Toni Collette and John Cho. Sad for Alex Wolff. Annoyed to no end for every nomination given to Eighth Grade.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

A Bread Factory is my #2 of the year (First Reformed is #1) and Tyne Daly gives my favorite performance from a woman this year (she's kind of getting category frauded along with McKenzie IMO but the amazing ensemble is a big one so I get it). Watch it! Just, y'know, carve out a lot of time.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAR

Gotham and Spirits solidify an early lead on paper for Glenn. And Tapley had the nerve to insist McCarthy was in the top three for a nod in the category.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Why is McCarthy missing? Anyone have any thoughts,too mainstream a persona.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

As Nathaniel said, this is a line-up decided by a small committee. There is still ample room for McCarthy to come through come Critics awards and more larger-size bodies such as SAG and Golden Globes (well, large-ish).

I am still betting McCarthy will show up at both SAG and the Globes. Let's see. For now, I'm thrilled that Colette has been recognized. I was fearing the season would finish without a mention of her superb work in Hereditary.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJones

Glad to see Josh Hamilton nominated and hope he carries through to Oscar. I was hoping Alex Wolff would be recognized for Hereditary. Both he and Toni Collette made that film work.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Toni Collette, Thomasin McKenzie & J Smith-Cameron are well deserved but feel weird standing alone without Alex Wolff, Ben Foster (best leading actor performance of the year IMO - give or take a BCoop) & Andrea Riseborough. Go Glenn!!

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterChoog

I'm definitely feeling more confident Grant and Driver are gonna hit all the precursors this year. I love them both so I'm totally on board for that. Also really hoping Hawke sails through this season onto an Oscar nom as well.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Pretty solid nominations. Disappointed that Thunder Road didn't show up in more categories, although its truly indie release strategy may have hindered it.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

I could totally see Toni Collette getting a bunch of the smaller critics awards, like Rosamund Pike did a few years ago.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

Not enough for Hereditary! Alex Wolff should've been a slam dunk nomination in supporting actor, and at LEAST a director nod, if not a picture nod too. I'm disappointed.

Also, yeah... strange that Melissa McCarthy is not catching on even with the indie awards. But I bet she'll be fine once it comes to the televised stuff. She's a ~*star*~ after all.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

I am very happy for Eighth Grade, though. What a great film.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

How fun would it be if the Globes nominated Toni Colette in Hereditary? I could see SAG recognizing her...unless they decide to be basic. You can never tell with SAG. Fingers crossed she can continue a little momentum here and there. I'm losing faith, but still holding on.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Okay, let's break down the acting categories:


1. Glenn Close, The Wife (Gotham and Spirit AND career honours)
2. Lady Gaga, A Star is Born (Too expensive for Gotham or Spirit)
3. Viola Davis, Widows (Too expensive for Gotham or Spirit)
4. Toni Collette, Hereditary (Gotham and Spirit)
5. Regina Hall, Support the Girls (Gotham and Spirit)
6. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (Ineligible for Spirit and not given a full nomination at Gotham, only an "ensemble" win. Sounds dicey. Viewed more as a directorial triumph than an acting triumph?)
7. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (Even more certain to be viewed as a directorial triumph than The Favourite.)
8. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (Spirit, but not Gotham, but Gotham's best alternate choice (Hahn) is ineligible and there was broader film support granted.)
9. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (She might have made the Oscar shortlist if she made either Gotham or Spirit, and definitely would have if she made both. Globe nod, maybe, but not Oscar, at this point.)
10. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns


Here, it's a little more uncertain if any of these are candidates. Still, let's assume his nominations at least confirm predicting Ethan Hawke was the right call.

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
2. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
3. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
4. John Cho, Searching (Big ($70 million) cheap hit. Film has great reviews. Movie is kind of The John Cho Show, and actors HAVE responded to that before. Would become the first Asian-American ever nominated for an Oscar for acting, I think? And not for a broad, ugly stereotype. This nomination is basically MADE of slam dunks.)
5. Christian Bale, Vice
6. Clint Eastwood, The Mule (Yeah, I'm guessing only one of Bale or Eastwood gets in, and I'll lean on the more openly biographical movie.)
7. Ryan Gosling, First Man
8. John David Washington, Black KkKlansman (Film has the reviews, but he's not getting the buzz for this performance. Will get nominated for something, but not yet.)
9. Robert Redford, The Old Man and the Gun (Redford was obviously NEVER one of their favourites for acting. He'd be at more than that comically small 1 nomination if so.)
10. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (It has the gross, obviously, unlike First Man, but it doesn't really have the reviews. You need both for a serious Oscar run. Malek might get in soon, but this isn't the ticket.)

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Very strong year... and very independent. The award for Suspiria makes no sense.

A Bread Factory -- I want to see it like right this second.

Private Life -- Haven't seen it, but isn't Kathryn Hahn a major snub? I've only read raves about her.

No Kyra?

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Volvagia -- he wouldn't be the first Asian-American. Pat Morita was nominated in 1984 and then the Tilly sisters (biracial) but it's *all* the other asians nominated for acting (not that there are a lot of them) have been from outside the US.. But I'd say he has zero chance. It's not the kind of movie but it is a huge win (as Crazy Rich Asians was) to break this stupid casting thing of not giving Asians leading roles. And Regina Hall isn't in the running.The film has zero mainstream profile and there's never been an acting nominee in a film that grossed that little ($100,000) unless it was a late December/prestige actor /or qualifying type deal

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Completely outlandish to give the Robert Altman award to Suspiria. I cannot think of a recent movie more opposed to the camaraderie and introspection that defines an Altman film and ensemble. So absolutely ridiculous. Ensemble award because... ballet company? They all exploded at the same time? Double Tilda? I think Chloë Grace Moretz deserves a Razzie.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

I intensely disliked You Were Never Really Here despite my love for Joaquín.

According to IMDB there's a A Bread Factory Part One and a Part Two and they both run two hours long!

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

My criticism of the Spirit Awards over the past years is that they seem to suffer Oscar fever -- not as bad as other awards bodies, but still, look at that string of previous Best Picture winners. This has made the Spirit Awards (once called the Indie Spirit Awards) almost irrelevant, without a true identity.

This year, there seems to have been a course correction, and I think it's great. These are by and large INDIE nominations, and I hope the winners demonstrate that the Spirits are rewarding artists in actual indie films.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

I think Chloë Grace Moretz deserves a Razzie

Yes for every movie she ever did.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Agreed that the casting / ensemble award for Suspiria is ridiculous.... of the pool of films nominated today The Tale is the one that deserved it the most.

November 16, 2018 | Registered CommenterMurtada Elfadl

No nomination for Willem Dafoe in At Eternity's Gate? Too expensive or is Dafoe no longer in the running? Also surprised at Alex Wolff's snub in Hereditary and especially Melissa McCarthy? No love for Mary Kay Place in Diane? Overall I am happy with the nominations even if Thomasin McKenzie should be in the lead actress category. Love all the nominations in the foreign language category. Surprised that Cold War did not make it.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

LOL, Volvagia, no. Regina Hall and John Cho are not Getting Oscar nominations. As much as I would love that, they're just not. This happens every year - one awards body announces their nominations and suddenly Oscar are expected to upend everything and nominate that outre or unconventional movie that is unlike anything they've nominated before.

I like this year's batch of Indie Spirit nominees because at least they feel more like independent films this year! Love some of them (aforementioned Hall and Cho, plus Collette and Madeline's Madeline and I can't wait to see A BREAD FACTORY from Patrick Wang). Curious about the BLACKKKLANSMAN misses, although I'm not the biggest fan of the movie so I understand since if you're not on its wavelength then there's genuinely very few places to put it.

That SUSPIRIA nod is very strange although I guess there is a wide cast (they just don't have much to do as an ensemble in the Altman sense). The Mackenzie supporting nod for LEAVE NO TRACE is bad enough, but then to not nominate Ben Foster is... odd.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Owl - I believe they're saving the Mary Kay Place movie for 2019

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Y'all are going to hate me, but Richard E. Grant steals the show in CYEFM, and it will not surprise me if he's the only nomination for the film. McCarthy does good work, but he's the one you remember and want more time with. His character is a lovable mess, hers just a mess.

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermikey67

Surprised Kidman didn't get a nod for Destroyer. All of the other films have been released already, so maybe that has something to do with it?

November 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

@Peggy Sue -- glad to hear that. The accolade for Diane in Tribeca led me to believe it will be released this year. I wish SPC will pick it up and give a royal treatment to Mary Kay Place.

@Glenn Dunks -- agree on your observation that, to quote Short Term 12-era Brie Larson, this might be the only nods some of these films will get throughout the season. The Oscars rarely go for these films.

Just had to say I am also loving the nominations of the two Reginas (Hall and King), Madeline's Madeline and can't figure out why Ben Foster is not in the list.

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

Curious but was Destroyer eligible for this year’s Spirits? Was hoping to see Kidman in the shortlist but hurray for Mulligan! She needs to get that Second Oscar nod!

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBlueMoon02

@JJM, Destroyer is only released on Xmas Day so maybe the Spirits committee haven seen it? I really hope Annapurna shift it to 2019 to increase Kidman's chances. As at now, they have THREE movies to be released in last 2 wks of Dec, which I tink is simply INSANE!

@Owl, I tink At Eternity Place might be illegible as its a multi-countries production? IMDB list it as Swiss/UK/Fr/USA production.

I'm shocked like most tt McCarthy misses both Gotham & Spirits. Could it be tt her character is too unsympathetic & standoffish n tt it turns off the voters?? it seems like Collette might actually hav a better shot at Oscar nom than her

I tink Hawke might be the passion pick this yr, over Dafoe. He seems like a safe bet into the final 5 now

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

I've been saying this for a while now that I think McCarthy is going to be a miss for this performance. I just don't think that there is enough buzz or lingering sentiment for the film. It is a great showcase for her, but I think this year's field is just too stacked for it to break through. It doesn't elicit the kind of adoration or conversation that I think the best actress conversation is generating this year. Close, Gaga, Coleman are locks and McCarthy has a chance to fight for those last 2 spots but I fear newer, shiner things are going to steal her thunder.

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterZach

Suspiria (2018) is one of my favorite movies of the year. Glad they made a way to acknowledge it. I wanted Swinton to be a thing in Supporting Actress but the Regina King coronation is real and not just Black Twitter hostage demands.

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Per Scott Feinberg, Destroyer was eligible, as was Boy Erased. They nominated The Rider last year and Socrates and Nancy this year, so they try to see everything.

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

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