Spirit Awards likely to sync up with the Oscars — again
he past four winners of the Independent Spirit Awards’ best feature — “12 Years a Slave,” “Birdman,” “Spotlight” and “Moonlight” — have gone on to take the Oscar for best picture.
Whether that streak extends to five will likely depend on how deeply motion picture academy voters embrace Steven Spielberg’s journalism drama, “The Post,” or Christopher Nolan’s war survival tale, “Dunkirk,” features ineligible for the Spirits because their budgets exceed the group’s $20-million threshold rule.
But with this year shaping up as one of the most indie-focused slates in awards season history, the slate that Spirit Awards voters put forth Tuesday will likely mirror the movies the academy salutes at its ceremony in March.
Spirit Awards nominees for best feature included “Call Me by Your Name,” “The Florida Project,” “Get Out,” “Lady Bird” and “The Rider.”
The luminous love story “Call Me by Your Name,” opening in limited release Friday, led the Spirits field with six nominations, including nods for director Luca Guadagnino and actors Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer.
Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” a horror movie boasting a scathing social satire, earned five nominations, with Peele picking up nods for writing and directing and Daniel Kaluuya finding recognition for his lead turn.
Peele’s movie, made for $4.5 million and released by Universal Pictures, is one of the biggest commercial hits to be feted by the Spirit Awards. Released in February, “Get Out” has grossed $253 million worldwide, becoming one of the more substantial indie film success stories in recent years. Recent awards season screenings for guild and academy members have been packed.
Josh and Benny Safdie’s “Good Time,” an immersive heist thriller that earned raves at Cannes, also netted five nominations, including nods for its sibling directors and cast members Robert Pattinson, Taliah Lennice Webster and Benny Safdie, who memorably portrayed a vulnerable character with an unspecified learning disability.
Dee Rees’ absorbing, ambitious drama “Mudbound” was given the Robert Altman Award, an honor presented to the film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast.
The recognition for “Mudbound” was one of several nods for minority filmmakers, including the multiple nominations for Peele and recognition for “Columbus” director Kogonada and actresses Salma Hayek (“Beatriz at Dinner”), Shinobu Terajima (“Oh Lucy!”) and Regina Williams (“Life and Nothing More”).
Voters — composed of committees of industry professionals, critics and members of Film Independent’s board — completely ignored Guillermo del Toro’s lavish fantasy romance, “The Shape of Water,” set to open next month.
Shutting out Del Toro’s well-liked movie, which won the Golden Lion for best film at the Venice Film Festival, rated as the day’s biggest surprise. Lead actress Sally Hawkins’ beautiful turn as a mute cleaning woman finding love with a water creature won solid praise at Venice and Toronto and still figures to be a strong Oscar contender.
But Spirit voters went their own way, nominating Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”) and Saoirse Ronan (“Ladybird”), as well as Hayek, Terajima and Williams.
As for best feature nominee “The Rider,” a melancholy drama about a South Dakota cowboy directed by Chloé Zhao, it’s currently scheduled to open in April, according to a Sony Pictures Classics spokesperson. It earned strong reviews at its Cannes Film Festival premiere and also earned Spirit nominations for cinematography, editing and direction.
If nothing else, the Spirit Awards’ stamp of approval provides cues for which movies academy members should watch over the long Thanksgiving weekend.
The nominated films can also trumpet the bevy of nominations as they look to expand — and survive — in a commercial marketplace crowded with awards-season contenders and big-budget studio movies.
Winners, selected by Film Independent Members, will be announced at the Spirit Awards on March 3 at a ceremony co-hosted by Nick Kroll and John Mulaney in Santa Monica. The show will broadcast live on IFC at 2 p.m. PT.