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Final Independent Spirit Awards Predictions: Barry Jenkins and Debra Granik in Tight Race

"If Beale Street Could Talk" or "Leave No Trace" should top wins; other favorites are "First Reformed" and "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"

(l to r.) Teyonah Parris as Ernestine, KiKi Layne as Tish, and Regina King as Sharon star in Barry Jenkins' IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, an Annapurna Pictures release.

“If Beale Street Could Talk”

Tatum Mangus / Annapurna Picture

While the notoriously idiosyncratic Film Independent Spirit Awards nomination jury likes to go its own way, the voters come from the more than 7,000 members of Film Independent: Movies that have been widely seen (i.e., Oscar contenders) have the advantage. In past years, Best Film selections often mirrored the eventual Oscar winners, including “The Artist,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Birdman,” “Spotlight” and “Moonlight.”

Last year’s Best Film winner “Get Out” had no problem meeting the $20-million budget ceiling — and did not have to compete with either of Fox Searchlight’s Oscar frontrunners, Guillermo del Toro’s eventual Oscar-winner “The Shape of Water” or Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

This year, while Best Actress Oscar frontrunner Glenn Close (“The Wife”) is competing for a Spirit Award along with Supporting Oscar contenders Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), Adam Driver (“BlacKkKlansman”) and Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”), none of the Spirit Best Film nominees are up for Oscars. And lauded Mexican Oscar entry “Roma” is only eligible to win the international film category, along with UK-produced “The Favourite.”

So this Saturday’s Spirit Awards (the often-raucous show hosted by Aubrey Plaza is broadcast live on IFC at 2 pm Pacific, 5 pm eastern) could deliver big wins for these truly indie films.

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Given that the Oscars overlooked “Leave No Trace,” director Debra Granik said she likes competing at the Indie Spirits, where she will compete for a Best Director award after having been nominated four times. “It’s more inclusive,” she recently told IndieWire. “Some filmmakers that are just starting out are getting wonderful encouragement. There’s an emerging director category, there’s best first film, there’s the idea that [even for] a scrappy film, someone could be really rooting for you…It’s the indie awards system that actually incubates new filmmakers, and incubates women, incubates filmmakers of color.”

Besides “Leave No Trace,” the top dogs at the Spirits are lower-budget Oscar contenders like Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” and Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed.” Also poised for some wins are non-Oscar nominees “Hereditary,” Ari Aster’s smart horror flick, and “Eighth Grade,” the coming-of-age comedy written and directed by rookie Bo Burnham, who collected the DGA’s first-time director win over Bradley Cooper and won the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Director Debra Granik and cinematographer Michael McDonough on the set of LEAVE NO TRACE, a Bleecker Street release.

Director Debra Granik and cinematographer Michael McDonough on the set of “Leave No Trace”

Scott Green / Bleecker Street

Best Picture

Will Win: “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Spoiler: “Leave No Trace”

Best Director

Will Win: Debra Granik (“Leave No Trace”)
Spoiler: Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)

“First Reformed”

1996-98 AccuSoft Inc., All right

Best Actor

Will Win: Ethan Hawke (“First Reformed”)
Spoiler: John Cho (“Searching”)

Best Actress

Will Win: Glenn Close (“The Wife”)
Spoiler: Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”)

"Can You Ever Forgive Me?"

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Fox Searchlight

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Spoiler: Adam Driver (“BlacKkKlansman”)

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Spoiler: Thomasin McKenzie (“Leave No Trace”)

Best Screenplay

Will Win: Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Spoiler: Paul Schrader (“First Reformed”)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (9690088g)Toni ColletteHereditary - 2018

“Hereditary”

Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

Best First Feature

Will Win: Ari Aster (“Hereditary”)
Spoiler: Boots Riley (“Sorry to Bother You”)

Best First Screenplay

Will Win: Bo Burnham (“Eighth Grade”)
Spoiler: Jennifer Fox (“The Tale”)

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

Best Documentary

Will Win: Morgan Neville (“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”)
Spoiler: Bing Liu (“Minding the Gap”)

Best International Film

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”)
Spoiler: Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Favourite”)

“Suspiria”

Best Cinematography

Will Win: “Suspiria”
Spoiler: “Wildlife”

Best Editing

Will Win: “You Were Never Really Here”
Spoiler: “American Animals”

Cassavetes Award (film under $500,000)

Will Win: “Thunder Road”
Spoiler:  “A Bread Factory”

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