“Carol” and “Spotlight”: Independent Spirit Award nominations announced

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The year marches on! Yesterday, the Film Independent Spirit Award nominations were announced, marking another point in the awards season. Though not exactly a perfect barometer for Oscar, it can actually do some good in seeing which indie contenders are sitting in a position of strength. This year, it was Academy Award hopefuls like Anomalisa, Beasts of No Nation, Carol, and Spotlight doing very well, with other indies like It Follows and Tangerine doing quite well too. What does it mean going forward? Not a whole lot, honestly, but those above titles definitely got boosts, to one degree or another. A lot still remains, but this does work as a small piece of the Oscar puzzle, as it were.

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Leading the way with a half dozen nominations was Todd Haynes’ Carol, with Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation and Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight next in line with five each (the latter getting to that total by scoring the Robert Altman Award this year). Getting four nominations was Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa, along with Sean Baker’s Tangerine, followed by others like David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows with three. The most unexpected nominee? Bone Tomahawk, which got a pair of citations. The End of the Tour also managed two nominations, while oddly Love & Mercy was only able to get a single one. Overall, it’s a solid mix of likely Academy hopefuls and small flicks that will go no further, which is pretty much standard operating procedure with the Spirit Awards.

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If you want to take some Oscar notes here, consider that Anomalisa and Beasts of No Nation did better than expected, Spotlight did more or less as expected (though it was a shame that the cast was lumped in together instead of individually honored), while something like The End of the Tour or Love & Mercy seems to have centered their campaigns in certain ways. Tangerine remains an Academy long shot, but it’s hanging around much longer than I expected it to. Carol always seemed like a great fit here, so don’t read too much into that, though anything is possible. Mostly, I’m just thrilled that It Follows remains on the fringes, even though I know it won’t happen for the movie. Still, it was nice to see it cited.

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Here now are the full nomination for the 31st Independent Spirit Awards:

Best Feature

Beasts of No Nation

Best Director

Sean Baker – Tangerine
Cary Joji Fukunaga – Beasts of No Nation
Todd Haynes – Carol
Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson – Anomalisa
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
David Robert Mitchell – It Follows

Best Screenplay

Charlie Kaufman – Anomalisa
Donald Margulies – The End of the Tour
Phyllis Nagy – Carol
Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer – Spotlight
S. Craig Zahler – Bone Tomahawk

Best First Feature

The Diary of a Teenage Girl
James White
Manos Sucias
Songs My Brothers Taught Me

Best First Screenplay

Jesse Andrews – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Jonas Carpignano – Mediterranea
Emma Donoghue – Room
Marielle Heller – The Diary of a Teenage Girl
John Magary, Russell Harbaugh, and Myna Joseph – The Mend

Best Male Lead

Christopher Abbott – James White
Abraham Attah – Beasts of No Nation
Ben Mendelsohn – Mississippi Grind
Jason Segel – The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon – Mediterranea

Best Female Lead

Cate Blanchett – Carol
Brie Larson – Room
Rooney Mara – Carol
Bel Powley – The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez – Tangerine

Best Supporting Male

Kevin Corrigan – Results
Paul Dano – Love & Mercy
Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation
Richard Jenkins – Bone Tomahawk
Michael Shannon – 99 Homes

Best Supporting Female

Robin Bartlett – H.
Marin Ireland – Glass Chin
Jennifer Jason Leigh – Anomalisa
Cynthia Nixon – James White
May Taylor – Tangerine

Best Documentary

Best of Enemies
Heart of a Dog
The Look of Silence
The Russian Woodpecker

Best International Film

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
Embrace of the Serpent
Son of Saul

Best Cinematography

Beasts of No Nation
It Follows
Songs My Brothers Taught Me

Best Editing

Heaven Knows What
It Follows
Manos Sucias

John Cassavetes Award (Best Feature Under $500,000)

Christmas, Again
Heaven Knows What
Out of My Hand

Robert Altman Award (Best Ensemble)


Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award

Chloe Zhao
Felix Thompson
Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck

Piaget Producers Award

Darren Dean
Mel Eslyn
Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith

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Stay tuned to see which films and performances wind up winning Spirit Awards!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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