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2021 Spirit Awards Nominations List: ‘Never Rarely’ Dominates with 7 Noms, ‘Minari’ Strong

In its first year of TV nominations, the Spirit Awards embraced "Little America," "Unorthodox," and "I May Destroy You."

Never Rarely Sometimes Always is the most nominated film at the Film Independent Spirit Awards

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”

Focus Features

The 36th Film Independent Spirit Awards are set to take place this week as a welcome reprieve to this elongated Oscar season. Unlike the Academy Awards, where David Fincher’s “Mank” reigns supreme with 10 nominations, the 2021 Indie Spirit Awards are dominated by Eliza Hittman’s “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” which was shut out of the Oscar nominations. “Never Rarely” boasts seven Spirit Award nominations this year, including Best Feature and Best Director.

Unlike the Oscars, the Spirit Awards also boast a Best First Feature category to honor the greatest directorial debuts of the last year. The 2021 nominees in this category are “I Carry You With Me,” “The 40 Year Old Version,” “Sound of Metal,” “Miss Juneteenth,” and “Nine Days.” Only “Sound of Metal” broke into the Oscars among these nominees.

As always, the budget cutoff for films to be eligible for the Spirit Awards is $22.5 million. For this reason, several high profile Netflix Oscar nominees such as “The Trial of the Chicago 7″ and “Mank” were not eligible for the 2021 ceremony. Netflix still managed to dominate the Spirit Awards with nominations for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which is nominated in the Best Feature category. Netflix is the 2021 Spirit Awards’ most nominated studio with 16 nominations, followed by Focus Features with 10 and A24 with 9.

While the Spirit Awards represent a chance for the awards season to shine a light on contenders overlooked by the Academy, there is still a good amount of crossover between the Oscars and the Spirits this year. Oscar frontrunner “Nomadland” is nominated for five Spirit Awards, including Best Feature and Best Director (two categories it’s expected to win at the Oscars). Fellow Oscar nominee “Minari” is nominated for six Spirit Awards, making it the second most-nominated film of the year.

Last year’s Spirit Awards were dominated by “Uncut Gems,” which won the prizes for Best Actor (Adam Sandler), Best Director (Josh and Benny Safdie), and Best Editing. Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” took home the honor for Best Feature. The lead actress prize was awarded to “Judy” star Renee Zellweger, who went on to win the Oscar for Best Actress.

The 2021 Spirit Awards will air live on IFC at 10pm ET on Thursday, April 22. In addition to the linear broadcast, the Spirit Awards will also stream simultaneously on AMC+. Following the broadcast, the full awards ceremony will be made available on demand across AMC+ and IFC platforms starting Friday, April 23.

Check out the full list of nominees for the 2021 Spirit Awards below.

Best Feature
“First Cow”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”

Best Director
Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari”
Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”
Eliza Hittman, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
Kelly Reichardt, “First Cow”
Chloe Zhao, “Nomadland”

Best First Feature
“I Carry You With Me”
“The 40 Year Old Version”
“The Sound of Metal”
“Miss Juneteenth”
“Nine Days”

Best Female Lead
Nicole Beharie, “Miss Juneteenth”
Viola Davis, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Sidney Flanigan, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
Julia Garner, “The Assistant”
Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”
Carey Mulligan, “Promising Young Woman”

Best Male Lead
Riz Ahmed, “The Sound of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Rob Morgan, “Bull”
Steven Yeun, “Minari”
Adarsh Gourav, “The White Tiger”

Best Supporting Female
Alexis Chikaeze, “Miss Juneteenth”
Yeri Han, “Minari”
Valerie Mahaffey, French Exit”
Talia Ryder, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
Yuh-jung Youn, “Minari”

Best Supporting Male
Colman Domingo, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Orion Lee, “First Cow”
Paul Raci, “Sound of Metal”
Glynn Turmann, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Benedict Wong, “Nine Days”

Best Screenplay
“Bad Education”
“The Half of It”
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
“Promising Young Woman”

Best First Screenplay
Kitty Green, “The Assistant”
Noah Hutton, “Lapsis”
Channing Godfrey Peoples, “Miss Juneteenth”
Andy Siara, “Palm Springs”
James Sweeney, “Straight Up”

Best Cinematography
Jay Keitel, “She Dies Tomorrow”
Shabier Kirchner, “Bull”
Michael Latham, “The Assistant”
Hélène Louvart, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
Joshua James Richards, “Nomadland”

Best Editing
“I Carry You With Me”
“The Invisible Man”
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”

Robert Altman Award
“One Night in Miami”

Best Documentary
“Crip Camp”
“Dick Johnson Is Dead”
“The Mole Agent”

Best International Film
“The Disciple”
“Night of the Kings”
“Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time”
“Quo Vadis, Aida?”

Piaget Producers Award
Kara Durrett
Lucas Joaquin
Gerry Kim

Someone to Watch Award
David Midell, “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain”
Ekwa Msangi, “Farewell Amor”
Annie Silverstein, “Bull”

Truer Than Fiction Award
Cecilia Aldarondo, “Landfall”
Elegance Bratton, “Pier Kids”
Elizabeth Lo, “Stray”

John Cassavetes Awards
“The Killing of Two Lovers”
“La Leyenda Negra”
“Lingua Franca”
“Saint Frances”

Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series
“Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children”
“City So Real”
“Immigration Nation”
“Love Fraud”
“We’re Here”

Best Scripted Series
“I May Destroy You”
“Little America”
“Small Axe”
“A Teacher”

Best Female Performance in a Scripted Series
Elle Fanning, “The Great”
Shira Haas, “Unorthodox”
Abby McEnany, “Work in Progress
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, “Never Have I Ever”
Jordan Kristine Seamón, “We Are Who We Are”

Best Male Performance in a Scripted Series
Conphidance, “Little America”
Adam Ali, “Little America”
Nicco Annan, “P-Valley”
Amit Rahav, “Unorthodox”
Harold Torres, “Zero, Zero, Zero”

Best Ensemble Cast in a New Scripted Series
“I May Destroy You”
Ensemble Cast: Michaela Coel, Paapa Essiedu, Weruche Opia
Stephen Wight

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