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by Peter Knegt
November 26, 2013 2:30 PM
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For Your Consideration: The 10 Biggest Surprises of the Spirit Award Nominations

Gaby Hoffman with Michael Cera in "Crystal Fairy"

The 29th Annual Film Independent Spirit Award nominations were announced this morning, and as per usual they came with many a surprise and quite a few full-on shockers. Check out the full list of nominations here, with our choices for the 10 most notable nominations (or lack thereof) listed below:

1. Gaby Hoffman gets a best lead female nom over Greta Gerwig and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
The Spirit Awards are known for their out-of-nowhere nominees (Linda Cardellini for "Return" last year, anyone?) but that makes it no less surprising that two of the most beloved indie performances of the year -- Greta Gerwig in "Frances Ha" and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "Enough Said" -- were shut out of the lead female category in favor of... Gaby Hoffman in "Crystal Fairy." No disrespect to Ms. Hoffman (who is admittedly great in the film), but this is where Gerwig and Louis-Dreyfus were most likely to get their deserved due.

2. Meanwhile, best lead male expands to six nominees to accommodate its overcrowding.
The male lead category options were just as crowded, and there were no surprises in the nominees -- Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oscar Isaac, Michael B. Jordan, Matthew McConaughey and Robert Redford were widely seen as the frontrunners to make it in here. Except we all expected one of them to miss out. But the Spirits opted for six nominees instead, just like they did with lead female three years ago, when five eventual nominees for the best actress Oscar -- Natalie Portman, Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence and Michelle Williams -- were joined by none other than Greta Gerwig (for "Greenberg"). It seems likely that this category will see some serious Oscar crossover as well, with Dern, Ejiofor, McConaughey and Redford all looking very good to double dip.

Sony Pictures Classics "Before Midnight"

3. "Before Midnight" misses out on best feature, completing a triple snub for the series.
Certainly one of the most acclaimed films of 2013 indie or otherwise, Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke's third collaboration in the "Before" series was snubbed for best feature. At least it's in good company... "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset" didn't make the cut either.

4. Melonie Diaz over Octavia Spencer in best supporting female.
The best hope for "Fruitvale Station" at the Oscars is a nomination for Octavia Spencer in best supporting actress, but while the film nabbed three nominations, Spencer wasn't one of them. Instead it was her co-star Melonie Diaz that was nominated for best supporting female.

5. No James Franco for "Spring Breakers."
Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers" didn't do so well across the board, managing only one (very deserved) nomination for Benoit Debie's cinematography. Most shocking about that is that it meant that James Franco's already classic portrayal of corn-rowed Florida gangsta wannabe Alien may very well be shut out of awards season altogether.


  • Steven Ball | November 28, 2013 1:58 AMReply

    Will Nicolas Winding Refn ever get some recognition? I thought ONLY GOD FORGIVES was brilliant & I thought Kristin Scott Thomas was great in the role of Chrystal

  • Alex | November 27, 2013 7:12 PMReply

    So surprised by the lack of nominations for Ain't Them Bodies Saints and Kill Your Darlings which are still two of the best I have seen this year. Not even a cinematography nomination for Saints and first screenplay for Darlings.

  • Alex | November 27, 2013 2:21 PMReply

    Very surprised that "Don Jon" and "In a World" missed out on Best First Feature. I would've expected them nominated alongside "Blue Caprice," "Una Noche," and "Wadjda."

    Also surprised "Frances Ha" got nominated for Best Feature over "Before Midnight" and "Blue Jasmine."

  • Anonymous | November 27, 2013 10:29 AMReply

    FIND nominations are often driven by identity politics and the organization's nominating committees go well out of their way to create balanced categories across racial lines. FIND has been very strong in offering recognition to performers of color, although not as great as being inclusive on gender in the filmmaking categories. Each year, I see their lists and think it is a positive and a negative- positive, because people who deserve recognition get some, and negative, because it sometimes comes at the expense of others whose work I personally prefer. But so what? This is all incredibly subjective and committee-driven and seems to express FIND's values, so to think it is a bellwether or indication of anything beyond its own subjectivity is silly.

  • Gene | November 27, 2013 5:20 AMReply

    I am a 50 year member of SAG. Crystal Fairy, was un watchable period.

  • bob hawk | November 27, 2013 2:12 AMReply

    The Golden Globes -- because they split up into dramatic and comedy/musical categories -- might offer the only opportunity for some of the omissions mentioned here to get a nod, although every once in a while the National Board of Review or one of the urban critics circles will recognize a wild card. Whatever . . . the Indie Spirit Awards have been eccentric, erratic and sometimes unfathomable from year one. What's really lame is nominating six in a category for five, which shows a lack of rigor and an inability to bite the bullet on the part of the nominators. I've been on juries where we were given strict orders: no ties allowed. And with all the egregious omissions this year, if six are allowed, why not seven, or eight? Oy!

  • Lucky | November 26, 2013 11:33 PMReply

    I don't get how Greta Gerwig can make the cut alongside 5 of the eventual Oscar nominees one year and now miss out while the film she's the title character in gets nominated for Best Feature.

  • Francois B | November 26, 2013 10:26 PMReply

    So excited for Gaby Hoffman! Crystal Fairy (Crystal Hairy!) is one of the most memorable film i saw this year, and her character is truly unforgettable... Sebastián Silva creates incredible characters for women, The Maid was also fantastic...

  • greg w. locke | November 26, 2013 7:53 PMReply

    Blue Caprice is so fantastic. I think Isaiah Washington should've gotten a Best Actor nom. Crowded categories this year, for sure.

  • Wowzer | November 26, 2013 2:50 PMReply

    To be fair, Gerwig and Louise-Dreyfus could not have both been shut out in favor of Gaby Hoffman. Mathematically, only one of them could. You're going to have to add another spoiler to the equation.

  • Lily | November 26, 2013 2:46 PMReply

    WTF! James didn't get a nom? What's wrong with the board? It was the most talked about male role of the whole year!

  • jason | November 26, 2013 2:45 PMReply

    "Kill Your Darlings," "Don Jon" and "In a World" miss out on best first feature. - no surprise here. They are all weak compared to the other works.
    "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" doesn't get a single nomination. - The producers are up for the producing award.

  • Peter Knegt | November 26, 2013 3:07 PM

    @Jason - That award is not connected to the film, its for emerging producers independent of any one project.