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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)

everyone -- yes, destroyer was eligible. Anything that played Toronto Film Festival (and 5 other key festivals) is eligible... which is why you get weird things like THE RIDER and THE HURT LOCKER competing for spirit awards before the year where they're eligible at the Oscars.

sanfran -- agreed. i love when the spirits nominate things that i haven't heard of (i want to see A BREAD FACTORY). There are so many movies made...and when you call yourself "independent" there really should be some off the beaten path gems to boost with awarenesss.

November 17, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm so eager to see A BREAD FACTORY. Both parts were playing at the Village East in NYC for about a week when I was out of town. Hoping the distributor manages to book some more screens after these announcements! The premise (about the endangered status of local arts and community relations) seems super timely.

Baffled, like most everyone else, by the continued exclusion of Melissa McCarthy in CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? I wonder if Hollywood--even the indie community--just doesn't care that much about a downtrodden writer? She's just wonderful in it.

Pleasure to see great titles from earlier in the year, like EIGHTH GRADE and FIRST REFORMED, come roaring back amidst the Oscar bait. Must watch this weekend: WE THE ANIMALS and PRIVATE LIFE.

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterER

"Hereditary" would get my vote for WORSE movie of the century- did anyone actually see the "Suspiria" remake- it seems to have vanished from the screens?

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Just saw "Leave No Trace" and I'm flummoxed as to how Foster missed here. I could see a role like that from a move like that missing at the Oscars, but not so easily at the Indies. Weirdness.

November 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

Destroyer was snubbed?! This is v BAD news for Nicole!!

Annapurna shld've hold back the film till 2019 to give it a proper run like The Wife

November 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

It seems people are buying Thomasin McKenzie in Best Supporting Actress... When GoldDerby changed her from Best Actress to Best Supporting Actress predictions field I was wondering why: now it seems it is part of her award campaign. A category fraud is always a shame... but I got it would be very hard for her to get recognized in Best Actress since this year's race is simply nuts!

November 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Ok, what is with all the Suspiria razzing here? It's a really good, though admittedly sui generis film. I think time will be kind to it.

I just saw Can You Ever Forgive Me and I totally agree with the general sentiment here that it's a wonderful movie with superb performances by McCarthy and Grant. Grant's role in particular could have gone horribly Renee-Zellweger-in-Cold-Mountain WRONG but he avoided mugging/hamming it up and instead delivered a delightful and nuanced performance. So good.

November 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Josh Hamilton has been an outstanding player in everything he's done since 00's Urbania. Hope he wins,

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

i just don't understand how Kidman missed here, she is jaw droppingly good in Destroyer, I do believe if any other a list actress touched it they would be winning the oscar. I mean the film is unrelentingly bleak but she is pretty much untouchable throughout.

November 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGizmo

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