Independent Spirit Awards Really Liked “12 Years a Slave” – Insert Joke Here

I haven’t had a lot of chances to write this semester, and honestly, that’s going to be the general pattern for the next year and a half. Grad school is kicking my ass, and while I’m still managing to squeeze in some actual film-going, keeping up with reviews and features is kind of daunting. I have a plan to catch up with some of my recent viewing in condensed form (since I’ve seen three of my favorite films of the year in quick succession, it seems only fair to share); but you know what I’ll definitely always have time for? Awards shows. Goddamn I love awards shows.

The Indie Spirits have always been one of my favorites, a chance to throw some love towards some fantastic but little-seen films (even if their tastes have been trending lately towards the kind of hybrid studio-indie projects being pumped out by Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Company). Even when they line up pretty well with the Oscars (which may very well happen this year, as we’ll see in a moment), they at least make for good counter-programming, and with Patton Oswalt hosting the ceremony on March 3, that should hold true once again. Plus, this time around, the Film Independent committee really had an embarrassment of riches to work with for these nominations. It’s been a fantastic, varied year in the independent filmmaking community, and you can see that in the way these nominations are ALL OVER THE PLACE.

The Coens’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” makes Best Feature but upstart Shane Carruth bumps them out of a Best Director nod with his obscure “Primer” follow-up, “Upstream Color.” Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha” gets into Best Feature but can’t manage a corresponding Best Actress or Best Screenplay nod for Greta Gerwig, despite that movie basically being a one-woman show. The Best Actor category goes six deep and STILL can’t find space for Miles Teller’s terrific performance in “The Spectacular Now-” even though his co-star Shailene Woodley shows up. There’s barely any rhyme or reason here, but ultimately the committee seems to have gone for recognizing the most possible films, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m shocked that “Before Midnight” couldn’t get into Best Feature, but it’s not like they nominated anything weak in its place; the only thing I could even call a gripe is probably “The Way, Way Back” getting totally snubbed. Not even a Supporting Actor nod for Sam Rockwell, guys?

The most popular choices, however, were clearly Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” leading the pack with seven nominations, and Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska,” close behind with six.  “12 Years a Slave” is basically a lock for a bunch of Oscar nominations at this point (I won’t get into the game of calling winners for a while yet), and “Nebraska” is looking pretty strong as well – actors and industry vets are eating up Bruce Dern’s performance, and Payne has become something of a perennial Academy favorite.

The New York Film Critics and National Board of Review awards are right around the corner, so stay tuned to see which of these underdog contenders can ride out the season!

29th Annual Film Independent Spirit Award Nominations

Best Feature:

  • All Is Lost
  • Frances Ha
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska
  • 12 Years a Slave

Best Director:

  • Shane Carruth, “Upstream Color”
  • J.C. Chandor, “All Is Lost”
  • Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
  • Jeff Nichols, “Mud”
  • Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”

Best Male Lead:

  • Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
  • Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
  • Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station”
  • Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
  • Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”

Best Female Lead:

  • Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
  • Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”
  • Gaby Hoffman, “Crystal Fairy”
  • Brie Larson, “Short Term 12”
  • Shailene Woodley, “The Spectacular Now”

Best Supporting Male:

  • Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
  • Will Forte, “Nebraska”
  • James Gandolfini, “Enough Said”
  • Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
  • Keith Stanfield, “Short Term 12”

Best Supporting Female:

  • Melonie Diaz, “Fruitvale Station”
  • Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”
  • Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
  • Yolonda Ross, “Go for Sisters”
  • June Squibb, “Nebraska”

Best Screenplay:

  • Woody Allen, “Blue Jasmine”
  • Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater, “Before Midnight”
  • Nicole Holofcener, “Enough Said”
  • Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, “The Spectacular Now”
  • John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave”

Best First Feature:

  • Blue Caprice
  • Concussion
  • Fruitvale Station
  • Una Noche
  • Wadjda

Best First Screenplay:

  • Lake Bell, “In a World…”
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt, “Don Jon”
  • Bob Nelson, “Nebraska”
  • Jill Soloway, “Afternoon Delight”
  • Michael Starrbury, “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete”

John Cassavetes Award (for best feature made for under $500,000):

  • Computer Chess
  • Crystal Fairy
  • Museum Hours
  • Pit Stop
  • This Is Martin Bonner

Best Cinematography:

  • Sean Bobbit, “12 Years a Slave”
  • Benoit Debie, “Spring Breakers”
  • Bruno Delbonnel, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
  • Frank G. DeMarco, “All Is Lost”
  • Matthias Grunsky, “Computer Chess”

Best Editing:

  • Shane Carruth and David Lowery, “Upstream Color”
  • Jem Cohen and Marc Vives, “Museum Hours”
  • Jennifer Lame, “Frances Ha”
  • Cindy Lee, “Una Noche”
  • Nat Sanders, “Short Term 12”

Best Documentary:

  • 20 Feet from Stardom
  • After Tiller
  • Gideon’s Army
  • The Act of Killing
  • The Square

Best International Film:

  • A Touch of Sin
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color
  • Gloria
  • The Great Beauty
  • The Hunt

Robert Altman Award (given to a film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast):

  • Mud

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