Normally I only care about the Oscars when it comes to Awards Season. I certainly reference the other major ceremonies and union shows because they can portend the results on the Academy’s biggest night, but for the most part, I don’t really pay that much attention.
But now that I’m doing this blog, and we’re close to the one year mark (I began after last year’s Golden Globes, oddly enough), I’m committing myself more to keeping up with the awards news. As such, we have our first major nominations announcement, with the reveal of the films vying for the Independent Spirit Awards.
This is definitely an important metric for the season as a whole. Four of the last five Spirit winners for Best Feature went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture (The Shape of Water breaking the streak earlier this year). Plus, unlike the other major awards, this pays attention to the small films (budgets under $20 million) that were released over the course of the year, rather than backloading everything in the fall and winter.
Here are this year’s nominees, with links to reviews I’ve done if I’ve seen them, and viewing information if you’re looking to see any of these films but haven’t had the chance yet.
John Cassavetes Award (for films budgeted less than $500,000):
A Bread Factory – In Limited Release
En El Séptimo Día – Unknown
Never Goin’ Back – On DVD
Sócrates – In Limited Release
Thunder Road – On DVD and Streaming (YouTube for $3.99)
Debra Granik – Leave No Trace
Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk
Tamara Jenkins – Private Life – On Netflix
Lynne Ramsay – You Were Never Really Here
Paul Schrader – First Reformed
Nicole Holofcener & Jeff Whitty – Can You Ever Forgive Me? – In Theatres Now
Tamara Jenkins – Private Life
Richard Glatzer, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, and Wash Westmoreland – Colette – In Theatres Now
Boots Riley – Sorry to Bother You
Paul Schrader – First Reformed
Best First Screenplay:
Bo Burnham – Eighth Grade
Christina Choe – Nancy – On DVD
Cory Finley – Thoroughbreds – On DVD
Jennifer Fox – The Tale
Quinn & Laurie Shephard – Blame – On DVD and Streaming
Best Female Lead:
Glenn Close – The Wife – On DVD 1/22/19
Toni Collette – Hereditary
Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
Regina Hall – Support the Girls – On DVD 12/4
Helena Howard – Madeline’s Madeline – On DVD 1/15/19
Carey Mulligan – Wildlife
Best Male Lead:
John Cho – Searching – On DVD 11/27
Daveed Diggs – Blindspotting – On DVD 11/20
Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
Christian Malheiros – Sócrates
Joaquin Phoenix – You Were Never Really Here
Hale County This Morning, This Evening – In Limited Release
Minding the Gap – On Hulu
Of Fathers and Sons – In Limited Release Today
On Her Shoulders – In Limited Release
Shirkers – On Netflix
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – On DVD
* – All of these films have also been submitted for the Oscar for Documentary Feature. It will be interesting to see which of these, if any, make the December shortlist.
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 – On DVD
Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Josh Hamilton – Eighth Grade
John David Washington – Monsters and Men – On DVD 1/8/19
Best International Film*:
Burning (South Korea) – Unknown
The Favourite (United Kingdom) – In Theatres 11/23
Happy As Lazzaro (Italy) – On Netflix 11/30
Roma (Mexico) – On Netflix 12/14
Shoplifters (Japan) – In Theatres 11/23
* – Burning, Roma, and Shoplifters are the official Oscar Foreign Language submissions for their respective countries. Roma is also pitching for Best Picture, while Shoplifters won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Alex Hall, Anne Fabini, and Gary Levy – The Tale
Joe Bini – You Were Never Really Here
Keiko Deguchi, Brian A. Kates, and Jeremiah Zagar – We the Animals
Nick Fenton, Julian Hart, Chris Gill, and Luke Dunkley – American Animals – On DVD
Nick Houy – Mid90s – In Theatres Now
Ashley Connor – Madeline’s Madeline
Diego Garcia – Wildlife
Benjamin Loeb – Mandy – On DVD
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom – Suspiria – In Theatres Now
Zak Mulligan – We the Animals
Robert Altman Award (given as an ensemble award with no nominees):
* * * * *
My initial impression is one of disappointment. Out of all the indies I’ve seen so far this year, the bulk of the love has gone to one of the few movies I couldn’t stand (Eighth Grade), while all my favorites (Thoroughbreds, Blindspotting, etc.) are reduced to token nods. I’m glad that You Were Never Really Here, Leave No Trace, and First Reformed are getting much deserved recognition, but Eighth Grade? Really? The movie that’s just a teenage girl complaining about being a teenage girl because she can’t go viral? That’s your golden child? Really? Also, while I haven’t seen it, it’s worth noting that We the Animals has the most nominations despite NOT getting nominated for Best Feature.
This is the first major awards show to announce its nominees, but it’ll be the last piece of pre-Oscar information we get, as the ceremony is the night before, same as the Razzies! I’ll try to knock a few of these films off my viewing list, particularly the foreign films and documentaries, as at least a couple are likely to make the December shortlists. Until then, keep it locked here for more updates, news, and reviews!
Join the conversation in the comments below! Do you watch other awards shows? What’s your favorite independent film this year? Have you ever signed off by saying, “Gucci?” I may have to smack you if you have!