Back to IndieWire

Independent Spirit Awards Nominations 2015 Led by ‘Boyhood,’ ‘Birdman’

Independent Spirit Awards Nominations 2015 Led by 'Boyhood,' 'Birdman'

The Spirit Awards voted on by the members will be awarded in Santa Monica on February 21 and air live on IFC and will be rebroadcast at 10 pm. 

As always, surprises abounded in this year’s nominations announced on November 25. Who came out ahead and behind? 

There’s always some degree of overlap between the Spirits and the Oscars as winning momentum comes into play, right before the critics groups awards break in the coming weeks. Last year, “12 Years a Slave” took home the top feature prizes at both the Spirits and the Oscars, and actors Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong’o and Jared Leto also collected two sets of awards. This can lead to a very dull Spirit show.

This year the jury supplied some zingers, including scruffy indies “Jimi: All is By My Side” and “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter.” That’s their job.

Besides Spirit frontrunners “Birdman” (six nominations including Alejandro González Iñárritu, Michael Keaton, Emma Stone and Edward Norton) and “Boyhood” (five, including Richard Linklater, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke), films catching an Oscar wave from the Spirits include “Selma,” which was deemed eligible even though it was released by Paramount, earning five nominations (feature, director, male lead and supporting female), “A Most Violent Year” (editing, screenplay and supporting female Jessica Chastain), “Nightcrawler” (five, first feature, screenplay, male lead, supporting male) and “Whiplash” (four including feature, director, editing, supporting actor J.K. Simmons). 

Ava DuVernay
is an Indie Spirit favorite so it is not surprising that the group favored “Selma”‘s creator, spirit and low budget over its studio roots (technically, it was indie-financed). And SPC’s “Love Is Strange” gets a nice boost for actors John Lithgow and Alfred Molina

Julianne Moore, who won the Best Lead Female Spirit Award back in 2002 for “Far From Heaven,” should win both a Spirit Award and the Oscar for “Still Alice.” Her supposed rival Reese Witherspoon (who was last nominated for “Election”), did not land nomination for “Wild.” Due to its budget, Sony Pictures Classics’ “Foxcatcher” was deemed ineligible, but confusingly was given the “Special Distinction” award. “Foxcatcher” could have used the Indie Spirits boost, but Sony will have to bask in getting 15 nominations to Weinstein Co.’s three.

Best Feature
Expected: “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “Love is Strange,” “Whiplash”
Surprise: “”Selma”

Snubbed: “A Most Violent Year,” “The Skeleton Twins,” “Wild”

Best Lead Female
Expected: Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”), Jenny Slate (“Obvious Child”). 
Surprises: Marion Cotillard “The Immigrant,” Rinko Kikuchi (“Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter”) and Tilda Swinton (“Only Lovers Left Alive”)
Snubs: Keira Knightley (“Begin Again”), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Beyond The Lights”), Hilary Swank (“The Homesman”), Kristen Wiig (“The Skeleton Twins”), Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”).
Best Lead Male
Expected: Jake Gyllenhaal (“Nightcrawler”), Michael Keaton (“Birdman”)
Surprises: Andre Benjamin (“Jimi: All is By My Side”), John Lithgow (“Love is Strange”), David Oyelowo (“Selma”)

Snubs: Oscar Isaac (“A Most Violent Year”), Ellar Coltrane (“Boyhood”), Bill Hader (“The Skeleton Twins”), Bill Murray (“St. Vincent”), Miles Teller (“Whiplash”).

Going in, Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) seemed the only lock, as Benedict Cumberbatch was not eligible for “The Imitation Game.”  
Best Supporting Female

Expected: Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”), Jessica Chastain (“A Most Violent Year”), Emma Stone (“Birdman”)

Surprises: Carmen Ejogo (“Selma”), Andrea Suarez Paz (“Stand Clear of the Closing Doors”)

Snubs:  Laura Dern (“Wild”), Kristen Stewart (“Still Alice”), Marisa Tomei (“Love is Strange”), Tessa Thompson (“Dear White People”)

Best Supporting Male

Expected: Riz Ahmed (“Nightcrawler”), Ethan Hawke (“Boyhood”), Alfred Molina (“Love is Strange”), Edward Norton (“Birdman”), JK Simmons (“Whiplash”) 

Snubs: Alec Baldwin (“Still Alice”), Albert Brooks (“A Most Violent Year”)
Best Director

Expected: Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”), Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Birdman”), Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”)
Surprises: Ava DuVernay (“Selma”), David Zellner (“Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter”)

Snubs: JC Chandor (“A Most Violent Year”), Craig Johnson (“The Skeleton Twins”), Alex Ross Perry (“Listen Up Phillip”), Ira Sachs (“Love is Strange”), Jeremy Saulnier (“Blue Ruin”)

Best First Feature

Expected: “Dear White People” (Justin Simien”), “Nightcrawler” (Dan Gilroy), “Obvious Child” (Gillian Robespierre)
Surprises: “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” (Ana Lily Amirpour),  “She’s Lost Control” (Anja Marquardt)

Snubs: “Appropriate Behavior” (Desiree Akhavan), “Coherence” (James Ward Byrkit), “Infinitely Polar Bear” (Maya Forbes), “Rosewater” (Jon Stewart), “St. Vincent” (Theodore Melfi) 

Best International Film
Expected: “Force Majeure,” “Ida,” “Leviathan,” “Mommy”
Surprises:  “Norte: The End of History,” “Under The Skin”

Snubs:  “The Imitation Game,” “Mr. Turner,” “The Theory of Everything,” “Two Days, One Night,” “Winter Sleep”

This category considers both foreign-language films and international English-language films.
Best Documentary
Expected:  “CITIZENFOUR,” “The Salt of the Earth,” “Virunga”
Surprises: “20,000 Days on Earth,” “Stray Dog” 

Snubs: “The Case Against 8,” “E-Team,” “Finding Vivian Maier,” “Keep On Keepin On,” “Life Itself,” “Last Days in Vietnam,” “The Overnighters,” “Point and Shoot,” “Rich Hill,” “Tales of the Grim Sleeper”

Best Screenplay

Expected: Dan Gilroy “Nightcrawler,” JC Chandor “Most Violent Year” 

Surprises: Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski (“Big Eyes”), Jim Jarmusch (“Only Lovers Left Alive”), Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias (“Love is Strange”)

More after the jump.

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD — Given to the best feature made for under $500,000. Award given to the writer, director and producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.

“Blue Ruin”
Writer/Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Producers: Richard Peete, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani
“It Felt Like Love”
Writer/Director/Producer: Eliza Hittman
Producers: Shrihari Sathe, Laura Wagner
“Land Ho!”
Writers/Directors: Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens
Producers: Christina Jennings, Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy
“Man From Reno”
Writer/Director: Dave Boyle
Writers: Joel Clark, Michael Lerman
Producer: Ko Mori
Writer/Director/Producer: Chris Mason Johnson

Producer: Chris Martin

Darius Khondji – “The Immigrant”
Emmanuel Lubezki – “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Sean Porter – “It Felt Like Love”
Lyle Vincent – “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
Bradford Young – “Selma”


Sandra Adair – “Boyhood”
Tom Cross – “Whiplash”
John Gilroy – “Nightcrawler”
Ron Patane – “A Most Violent Year”
Adam Wingard – “The Guest”

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – (Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast)

“Inherent Vice”
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Casting Director: Cassandra Kulukundis

Ensemble Cast: Josh Brolin, Martin Donovan, Jena Malone, Joanna Newsom, Joaquin Phoenix, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short Serena Scott Thomas, Benicio Del Toro, Katherine Waterston, Michael Kenneth Williams, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon

18th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 18th annual Producers Award, sponsored by Piaget, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget.

Chad Burris
Elisabeth Holm

Chris Ohlson

21st ANNUAL KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 21st annual Someone to Watch Award, sponsored by Kiehl’s Since 1851, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851.

“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Directors: Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia
“The Retrieval”

Director: Chris Eska

20th ANNUAL LENSCRAFTERS TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 20th annual Truer Than Fiction Award, sponsored by LensCrafters is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by LensCrafters.

“Approaching the Elephant”
Director: Amanda Rose Wilder
“Evolution of a Criminal”
Director: Darius Clark Monroe
“The Kill Team”
Director: Dan Krauss
“The Last Season”
Director: Sara Dosa

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Awards and tagged , , , , , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox