Once the more outré tee-up to a more staid Oscars ceremony, the Film Independent Spirit Awards once again moves its date from Academy Awards weekend to March 4, a few days before the final round of Academy voting closes — a move that could have an impact on the Oscars results.
Historically, the Indie Spirit winners tend to zag from the projects and performances the Academy highlights. For example, the last ceremony awarded Best Feature to “The Lost Daughter,” Best Male Lead to Simon Rex (“Red Rocket”), and Best Female Lead to Taylour Paige (“Zola”), picks that did not even cross over with Oscar nominations. This year, however, the idiosyncratic awards body aligns well with projects that prognosticators suggest will receive much love from the Academy.
Leading Indie Spirit nominations this year are “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (eight) and “TÁR” (seven), meaning the expected head-to-head for Best Actress extends here, even though Film Independent has forgone gendered categories. Though the Indie Spirits did award “TÁR” star Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine,” her last Oscar-winning role, the awards body seems to lean toward honoring long overdue performers like Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) and Glenn Close (“The Wife”), so chances look good for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star Michelle Yeoh.
That is if they award a woman at all. Again, the primary acting category is now Best Lead Performance, so Blanchett and Yeoh are in the same category as Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”) and Jeremy Pope (“The Inspection”), two breakout stars of emotional A24 dramas, that are vying to break into the Best Actor race — a race that currently has a room for a small shakeup. Notably missing are “The Whale” star Brendan Fraser and “Till” star Danielle Deadwyler, who until now have had very celebrated performances in two films that actually did fit within Film Independent’s eligibility limit ($30 million budget cap).
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Although it bodes well for the film’s award chances as a whole, netting Indie Spirit nominations like Best Feature, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, the Robert Altman Award going to Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking,” an honor that’s presented to the ensemble cast, director and casting director of a film, does little to clarify which members of the nearly all-female cast are the biggest awards contenders (the Altman Award win pulls stars Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Ben Whishaw, etc. out of contention for the acting categories).
Monday’s Indie Spirit Awards nominations most boost supporting performance contenders like Ke Huy Quan, who is expected to receive a lot of awards attention for his film comeback in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” as well as Brian Tyree Henry (“Causeway”), Mark Rylance (“Bones and All”), and Gabrielle Union (“The Inspection”), who are right on the cusp of more awards recognition (the trio are also in contention at the Gotham Awards). Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu round out the nominated “Everything Everywhere All at Once” actors, though while the former joins Quan in the Best Supporting Performance category, the latter is one of the five actors spotlighted in the new Best Breakthrough Performance award category.
On the wide open Best International Film front, the Indie Spirits give dark horses like “Corsage,” “Joyland,” and “Saint Omer” another boost, while Best Documentary nominations for “All That Breathes” and “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” help solidify the two films status as likely Oscar nominees.
The Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations came early enough this year to even influence nominations voting for the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, two ceremonies that also like to make a few out-of-the-box choices in an attempt to turn the awards season tides. While the picks are very encouraging for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “TÁR,” and “Women Talking,” smaller awards fare like “The Whale,” “Till,” and “Armageddon Time” will need an added lift to their campaigns coming from elsewhere.