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2017 Independent Spirit Awards: Who Will Win and Who Should Win — Critics Survey

119 critics and journalists voted in our annual survey, and not every category shows total consensus.

witch fits moonlight toni erdmann

“The Witch,” ‘The Fits,” “Moonlight,” “Toni Erdmann”

The Independent Spirit Awards may not garner the same attention as the Oscars, but they offer a much broader survey of the previous year in film. There are some overlaps in major categories — the lauded trifecta of “Moonlight,” “La La Land” and “Manchester By the Sea” remains in place. However, there are also a number of other 2016 highlights, from “American Honey” to “Swiss Army Man,” that won’t make it to the Academy Awards. That gives us one last chance to cast a wider net. Per tradition, we reached out to our community of critics and journalists from publications around the country to ask them two questions for every category: Who will on Saturday — and who should?

READ MORE: 2017 Independent Spirit Awards Nominations

Among the 119 respondents, the majority felt pretty strongly that “Moonlight” deserved to win best feature, and confident that it would. The majority also supported the possibility of Barry Jenkins winning best director and showed the same degree of certainty that he would. That’s a notable contrast to the Oscars, where pundits (including our own Anne Thompson) are calling both of those categories for “La La Land.”

While Jenkins and Kenneth Lonergan are in different screenwriting categories at the Oscars — Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay, respectively — they’re competing at the Spirits for best screenplay, and 61% of voters think that Lonergan will take home the prize. However, just 35% think he should, with Jenkins nipping at his heels in this category, nabbing 33% of the vote.

There were some intriguing divisions in several categories that won’t surface at the Oscar ceremony, including Best First Feature. It’s here that nearly 50% of voters suggested that Robert Eggers’ slow-burn horror tale “The Witch” would take the prize, although some 30% saw potential for “The Fits,” Ana Rose Holmer’s abstract look at a young ballet team stricken with a mysterious illness. More notably, the movies actually tied in the “Should Win” category: 39% of the votes went to both films.

Other categories unique to the Spirit Awards include the John Cassavetes Award for films made for under $500,000. Competition was tight here: around 33% of our voters thought that So Yong Kim’s romance “Lovesong” deserved to win, a little more than Andrew Ahn’s Sundance drama “Spa Night.” However, 37% of voters felt that “Spa Night” should win, while only 29% felt the same way about “Lovesong.”

Check out the full results below. The Independent Spirit Awards take place on Saturday, February 24, 2017.

Best Feature

Will Win: “Moonlight”

Should Win: “Moonlight

Best First Feature

Will Win: “The Witch”

Should Win: “The Witch”/”The Fits” (tie)

Best Director

Will Win: Barry Jenkins

Should Win: Barry Jenkins

Best Screenplay

Will Win: Kenneth Lonergan

Should Win: Kenneth Lonergan

Best First Screenplay

Will Win: Robert Eggers, “The Witch”

Should Win: Robert Eggers, “The Witch”

Best Female Lead

Will Win: Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”

Should Win: Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”

Best Male Lead

Will Win: Casey Affleck, “Manchester By the Sea”

Should Win: Casey Affleck, “Manchester By the Sea”

Best Supporting Female

Will Win: Lily Gladstone, “Certain Women”

Should Win: Lily Gladstone, “Certain Women”

Best Supporting Male

Will Win: Lucas Hedges, “Manchester By the Sea”

Should Win: Ralph Fiennes, “A Bigger Splash”

John Cassavetes Award

Will Win: “Lovesong”

Should Win: “Spa Night”

Best Cinematography

Will Win: “Moonlight”

Should Win: “Moonlight”

Best International Film

Will Win: “Toni Erdmann”

Should Win: “Toni Erdmann”

Best Documentary

Will Win: “O.J.: Made in America”

Should Win: “I Am Not Your Negro”/ “O.J.: Made in America” (tie)

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