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by Peter Knegt
November 28, 2012 11:45 AM
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For Your Consideration: The 10 Biggest Surprises of the Spirit Award Nominations

There were considerable surprises among the nominations for the 28th Film Independent's Spirit Awards, which were announced yesterday in Los Angeles.

While the expected likes of "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Bernie," "Middle of Nowhere" and "Moonrise Kingdom," found many a nomination, they were joined (or not joined) by quite a few unexpected developments.

Check out 10 major surprises from the announcement below. A full list of nominations is available here.

1. "Silver Linings Playbook" was indeed eligible. And it dominated.
The Weinstein Company has done it again. A year after they managed to unexpectedly wiggle a largely French production into all the major Spirit Award races, they got a film many assumed was over the Spirit Awards' $20 million budget cut-off to get the most nominations of the announcement. With their two other major 2012 films ("The Master" and "Django Unchained") well over the budget cut-off, the Weinsteins pushed for the reportedly $21 million "Silver Linings," and succeeded.  As it turns out, the jury has some discretion in qualifying films. Says the official Spirit Award rules:

Cost of completed film, including post, must be less than $20 million. Any variations are at the sole discretion of the nominating committees and Film Independent.

Every film with a budget of more than $15 million is required to submit the top sheet from its final budget report to determine eligibility, and it seems the "Silver Linings" top sheet worked out to the tune of best feature, best director, best screenplay, best actor and best actress nominations (but oddly nothing for Robert DeNiro in supporting actor). It's now the likely winner of most of those categories, as well.

2. "Your Sister's Sister" and "Compliance" each only manage one nomination (both for supporting actress).
Despite being two of the most acclaimed indies of the year, Lynn Shelton's "Your Sister's Sister" and Craig Zobel's "Compliance" were largely and unforunately shut out of the nominations. At least both did manage best supporting actress nods for Rosemarie DeWitt and Ann Dowd, which in this opinion were two of the best performances this year (and sadly both unlikely to nab Oscar noms). Its just too bad their co-stars Emily Blunt and Dreama Walker couldn't have joined them.

3. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" also only takes one nomination... In a category it shouldn't have even been eligible for.
Another film that was undeservedly short on Spirit noms was Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (where was Ezra Miller in supporting actor?). The film managed a sole nomination for best first feature, which would be wholly deserved if "Perks" was Chbosky's first feature. He directed "The Four Corners of Nowhere" back in 1995, a film that played in competition at Sundance. While 17 years is a long time between films, it doesn't quite re-virginize Chboksy's status as a first time filmmaker.

4. Music Box Films gets the second most nominations of any distributor.
Thanks in large part to the welcome surprise of Ira Sachs' "Keep The Lights On" managing a bunch of nominations in major categories (it took four overall, including best feature), Music Box Films was second only to Fox Searchlight in terms of distributors, beating out Sony Pictures Classics, Focus Features, IFC Films and The Weinstein Company. The relatively new company found 7 nominations overall, from "Lights" as well as "Starlet" and "Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present."

5. It was a pretty gay-friendly list of nominations.
Sachs' gay relationship drama led what was surprisingly LGBT-heavy list of films nominated at the Spirits. Rosemarie DeWitt's aforementioned performance in "Your Sister's Sister" was one of three nominated for depicting gay characters (Thure Lindhardt in "Lights" and Wendell Pierce in "Four" being the others). Beyond that, "Lights" got aforementioned best feature, best screenplay and best director nods, while Jonathan Lisecki's "Gayby" (first screenplay), Aurora Guerrero's "Mosquita y Mari" (John Cassavetes Award) and David France's "How To Survive a Plague" (documentary) all took nominations as well. Add them to the first feature nod for "Perks of Being a Wallflower," and it's a very gay-friendly list of nominations.

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7 Comments

  • jingmei | November 29, 2012 3:01 AMReply

    Cool doubts list this is, kinda share the same common. First of all, need to point out that in the item 8. Sister is the "English language title" of the France/Swiss film L'enfant d'en Haut. Guess you meant this year no English speaking films like Brit films or something. Sister is a coolly touching film, its English translation title is manipulating, only when watch it, just learn the relationship of the kid and the young adult. By the way both English and American actors in this film. Have to mention the child actor in it was amazingly impressive, besides Lea Seydoux. Same here, felt just learned that Silver Linings Playbook is an indie film. Another bit doubt is: Brit Marling and Helen Hunt are both for best supporting female instead of best lead female. Funny, John Malkovich is one of the producers of The Parks of being a wallflower. Maybe Richard Gere is more for Academy not Indie Spirit.

  • Lou | November 28, 2012 4:28 PMReply

    Hey, how about some coverage for Julia Loktev, the only woman in the Best Director category? I think that qualifies as a surprise - a welcome one!

  • Spirits annoy | November 28, 2012 2:45 PMReply

    What about SLEEPWALK WITH ME being entirely ignored? Ridiculous. And notable that nearly all the nominated films played as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival.

  • shelly | November 29, 2012 2:03 AM

    Sleepwalk With Me is so painfully mediocre. The Gotham's only nominated him because he hosted.

  • your brother's brother | November 28, 2012 1:42 PMReply

    I still couldnt believe they nominate Rosemarie as SUPPORTING - she was the clear lead and she deserves that leading nom. Also extremely disappointed that Emily didnt get nominated.

  • Brian | November 28, 2012 12:33 PMReply

    Just a note: France submitted The Intouchables. Austria submitted Amour.

  • Casey | November 28, 2012 12:09 PMReply

    I am floored KEEP THE LIGHTS ON was nominated for anything. Its script was very poor, dropping interesting characters in the needless third act, and the direction nothing special. I'll give Thure Lindhardt credit for a fine performance.