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Women Rule the Indie Spirit Nominations, But Will Oscars Follow?

For once, Spirit nominees like "Eighth Grade" and "We the Animals" emphasize independent distributors rather than studios.

Joaquin Phoenix, Lynne Ramsay'You Were Never Really Here' premiere, BFI London Film Festival, UK - 14 Oct 2017

Joaquin Phoenix and Lynne Ramsay

Pete Summers/REX/Shutterstock

The nominations for Film Independent’s 34th Independent Spirit Awards are in. The always-idiosyncratic nominations committees steer toward low-budget indie American movies (there’s supposedly a $20-million budget cap), which explains why ineligible titles include too-expensive “Vice,” Belgian-directed “Beautiful Boy,” French-directed “The Sisters Brothers,” and British movie “Mary Queen of Scots,” among others, and how Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” (Mexico, Netflix) wound up in the stellar international film category which also includes likely Oscar-contenders “Burning” (South Korea, Well Go USA), “The Favourite” (UK, Fox Searchlight), and Palme d’Or winner “Shoplifters” (Japan, Magnolia).

Spirit nominations do offer some guidance for other awards shows, from the Screen Actors Guild to the Oscars: back in March, Frances McDormand, Allison Janney, and Sam Rockwell all landed Spirit wins in the blustery white tent in Santa Monica the day before accepting their inevitable Oscars. Original Screenplay Oscar winner Jordan Peele took home the Best Feature Indie Spirit for “Get Out”; before that, the previous four winners of that prize all went on to win the Best Picture Oscar: “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” “Birdman,” and “12 Years a Slave.”

For the 2019 Indie Spirit Awards, Jeremiah Zagar’s Sundance breakout “We the Animals” (The Orchard) led the field with five Spirit nominations (not including Best Feature), followed by Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade” (A24), veteran Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” (A24), and Brit Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here” (Amazon Studios) with four each including Best Feature.

“If Beale Street Could Talk” (Annapurna) landed three nods (Best Feature and Director for Barry Jenkins and Supporting Actress for Regina King) that give it a push in the Oscar race.

Read More: ‘Roma’: Here’s How Alfonso Cuarón Can Really Disrupt the Oscar Race

The nominating committees rewarded a number of films created by women. Along with Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here,” Debra Granik’s “Leave No Trace” (Bleecker Street) — one of the best-reviewed films of the year — landed three nominations including Best Feature, Director, and Supporting Actress (Thomas McKenzie) but not Ben Foster, while Tamara Jenkins’ “Private Life” (Netflix) landed nods for Directing, Screenplay, and Supporting Female Actor Kayli Carter, but not Best Feature or nominations for its leading stars, Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti. Schrader is the only white male in the directing category.

Landing a Screenplay nod was Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (Fox Searchlight) which is a strong Oscar contender for Adapted Screenplay. While Richard E. Grant also scored a Supporting Actor slot, the Marielle Heller movie was overlooked when it came to Director, Feature, or Best Actress recognition for star Melissa McCarthy. That movie could have used some support.

"We the Animals"

“We the Animals”

Cinereach

A24 had a good day, landing a total of a dozen nominations for “Eighth Grade,” “First Reformed,” “Hereditary” (Best First Feature for Ari Aster), “Mid90s” (Best Editing for Nick Houey), and “Never Goin’ Back” (John Cassavetes Award for low-budget filmmaking).

Netflix received seven nominations while Annapurna took six, for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Sorry to Bother You” (Best First Feature and Screenplay for Boots Riley), and its upcoming crime drama “Destroyer” — filmmaker Karyn Kusama will compete with Granik and Jenkins for the Bonnie Award for female director.

Amazon Studios landed four for “You Were Never Really Here,” and cinematography for Luca Guadagnino’s horror remake “Suspiria,” which also landed the Robert Altman award, which took it out of the running for directing and acting awards. Fox Searchlight has three (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “The Favourite”), and IFC scored three for “Wildlife.”

Among the Best Actress contenders, Glenn Close (Sony Pictures Classics’ “The Wife”) is the most likely Oscar contender, followed by Carey Mulligan (“Wildlife”) with Toni Collette helped by this callout for her role in “Hereditary.” Long shots for Oscars include “Eighth Grade” lead Elsie Fisher, Helena Howard (“Madeline’s Madeline”), and comedienne Regina Hall (“Support the Girls”).

Left out was Keira Knightley (“Colette”), Julia Roberts (“Ben is Back”), Nicole Kidman (“Destroyer”), Laura Dern (“The Tale”), Kathryn Hahn (“Private Life”), newcomer Kiki Layne (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), Felicity Jones (“On the Basis of Sex”) and Charlize Theron (“Tully”).

“First Reformed” star Ethan Hawke also gets a leg up in the Best Actor race, along with Joaquin Phoenix, who won Best Actor at Cannes for “You Were Never Really Here.” Lucas Hedges missed the boat for both “Boy Erased” and “Ben is Back,” along with veteran actors Robert Redford (“The Old Man & the Gun”) and Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”), who both could have used some support.

While Adam Driver did land a Supporting Actor nomination for Spike Lee’s “The BlackKklansman” (Focus Features), his co-star John David Washington did not: the well-regarded summer hit was otherwise overlooked.

Elsie Fisher Eighth Grade

Elsie Fisher in “Eighth Grade”

A24

Among the documentaries, Oscar frontrunner “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” was nominated, but not box-office hits “Free Solo” and “RBG.” Getting a boost in a crowded field were “Of Fathers and Sons,” “Shirkers,” “Minding the Gap,” “Hale County, This Morning, This Evening,” and “On Her Shoulders;” the latter three also landed nods for the Truer than Fiction award.

This year’s Spirit Awards, voted on by some 7,000 members of Film Independent, take place on February 23, aired live on IFC.

The full nominations list is below.

Best Feature

EIGHTH GRADE

FIRST REFORMED

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

LEAVE NO TRACE

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Best Director

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

Best First Feature

HEREDITARY

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

THE TALE

WE THE ANIMALS

WILDLIFE

Best Female Lead

Glenn Close, THE WIFE

Toni Collette, HEREDITARY

Elsie Fisher, EIGHTH GRADE

Regina Hall, SUPPORT THE GIRLS

Helena Howard, MADELINE’S MADELINE

Carey Mulligan, WILDLIFE

Best Male Lead

John Cho, SEARCHING

Daveed Diggs, BLINDSPOTTING

Ethan Hawke, FIRST REFORMED

Christian Malheiros, SÓCRATES

Joaquin Phoenix, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Best Supporting Female

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

Best Supporting Male

Raúl 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

Best Screenplay

Richard Glatzer (Writer/Story By), Rebecca Lenkiewicz & Wash Westmoreland, COLETTE

Nicole Holofcener & Jeff Whitty, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Tamara Jenkins, PRIVATE LIFE

Boots Riley, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

Paul Schrader FIRST REFORMED

Best First Screenplay

Bo Burnham, EIGHTH GRADE

Christina Choe, NANCY

Cory Finley, THOROUGHBREDS

Jennifer Fox, THE TALE

Quinn Shephard (Writer/Story By) and Laurie Shephard (Story By), BLAME

Best Cinematography

Ashley Connor, MADELINE’S MADELINE

Diego Garcia, WILDLIFE

Benjamin Loeb, MANDY

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, SUSPIRIA

Zak Mulligan, WE THE ANIMALS

Best Editing

Joe Bini, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Keiko Deguchi, Brian A. Kates & Jeremiah Zagar, WE THE ANIMALS

Luke Dunkley, Nick Fenton, Chris Gill & Julian Hart, AMERICAN ANIMALS

Anne Fabini, Alex Hall and Gary Levy, THE TALE

Nick Houy, MID90S

John Cassavetes Award

A BREAD FACTORY

EN EL SÉPTIMO DÍA

NEVER GOIN’ BACK

SÓCRATES

THUNDER ROAD

Robert Altman Award

SUSPIRIA

Best Documentary

HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING

MINDING THE GAP

OF FATHERS AND SONS

ON HER SHOULDERS

SHIRKERS

WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

Best International Film

BURNING (South Korea)

THE FAVOURITE (United Kingdom)

HAPPY AS LAZZARO (Italy)

ROMA (Mexico)

SHOPLIFTERS (Japan)

Piaget Producers Award

Jonathan Duffy and Kelly Williams

Gabrielle Nadig

Shrihari Sathe

Someone to Watch Award

Alex Moratto, SÓCRATES

Ioana Uricaru, LEMONADE

Jeremiah Zagar, WE THE ANIMALS

Truer Than Fiction Award

Alexandria Bombach, ON HER SHOULDERS

Bing Liu, MINDING THE GAP

RaMell Ross, HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING

Annual Bonnie Award

Debra Granik

Tamara Jenkins

Karyn Kusama

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