The nominees for the 31st Independent Spirit Awards have just been announced and I must say that it is a very satisfying list, choosing to honour the smaller films and performances that will be under the radar of the major awards groups. Cannes hit Carol and Netflix’s Beasts of No Nation lead the nominations with 6 apiece, while there was disappointment for I’ll See You in My Dreams, Grandma, Trumbo and While We’re Young, who all completely missed out on nominations. I’m going to look at each category, give my thoughts on the snubs and surprises, and give an early guess on who will take home the award. Full list: http://www.spiritawards.com/nominees/
Best Feature: I got 3 out of 5 in my prediction for this category, with Beasts of No Nation, Carol and Spotlight all receiving nominations. However, The Diary of a Teenage Girl and, more surprisingly, Room missed out on nominations, with the animation Anomalisa and the iPhone-shot comedy Tangerine receiving nominations. This is an exciting line-up, with a diverse range and all of them are big critical favourites, all with their hardcore supporters. Currently, I’d give the edge to Carol, but if Spotlight is the far-and-away frontrunner for the Oscars by the time of the ceremony, it could take it. PREDICTION: CAROL.
Best Director: There are 6 nominees in this category instead of your normal 5, but some of the names are pleasing to see. Lenny Abrahamson and Bill Pohlad could feel a bit hard done by, but it’s hard to argue against these. The biggest surprise is the recognition for David Robert Mitchell for the horror It Follows, as no one really expected him to feature here. I’d love to see Cary Fukunaga win, but he has a better shot in Cinematography. It’ll probably go to Todd Haynes. PREDICTION: TODD HAYNES- CAROL.
Best Male Lead: This is a bit of a surprise, as none of these are even in the conversation for the Oscars. Big names like Bryan Cranston and John Cusack missed out, while newcomers like Abraham Attah and Koudos Seihon both make it. It’s probably between Christopher Abbott and Jason Segel to win, and I’m going to go for Segel as they love their big name winners in this category: PREDICTION: JASON SEGEL- THE END OF THE TOUR.
Best Female Lead: 4 out of 5 correct, with Rooney Mara getting in here instead of in Supporting ahead of Lily Tomlin, who surprisingly misses out for Grandma. This is a very strong list, and all of them have a shot. Both Carol actresses Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara have a shot, though, in the end, Brie Larson will be probably be quite a comfortable winner, and will likely go on and win the Oscar the following night. PREDICTION: BRIE LARSON-ROOM.
Best Supporting Male: A mixture between big Oscar players and little Indie darlings, this looks like a tough race. The big shock here is that neither Mark Ruffalo nor Michael Keaton got in for Spotlight, and that Jacob Tremblay misses out for Room (though this could be down to category placement confusion). While Oscar nominees Michael Shannon and Richard Jenkins have a real shot, it’ll likely be down to Idris Elba and Paul Dano, with Elba having the edge as Beasts of No Nation has garnered lots of support here, while Dano is Love & Mercy‘s only nomination. PREDICTION: IDRIS ELBA- BEASTS OF NO NATION.
Best Supporting Female: This category is quite the shocker, as I only got 2/5, and they were only punts on Mya Taylor and Cynthia Nixon. With Rooney Mara being moved up to lead and Joan Allen and Rachel McAdams both missing out, it gave an opportunity for unknowns Robin Bartlett and Marin Ireland to sneak in for films that have had little to no buzz, as well Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is the first voice only nominee at the Indie Spirits for her role in Anomalisa. However, I think it’s a safe bet that Cynthia Nixon is going to win for her role in James White. PREDICTION: CYNTHIA NIXON- JAMES WHITE.
Best Screenplay: This is such a tricky category. Carol and Spotlight are likely to garner Screenplay nominations at the Oscars, while many have praised the screenplays of The End of the Tour and Anomalisa as the strongest things about those films. I’ll say that Anomalisa has the edge as Charlie Kaufman is so adored and it’s a good place to award the film, as the Indie Spirits don’t have a category for animation. PREDICTION: ANOMALISA.
Best Cinematography: This would be the ideal place to award Cary Joji Fukunaga’s work on Beasts of No Nation, but don’t count out Carol, as the film is breathtakingly shot. PREDICTION: BEASTS OF NO NATION.
Best First Feature: It’s between The Diary of a Teenage Girl and James White, but Mediterranea could surprise. I’ll go for The Diary of a Teenage Girl. PREDICTION: THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL.
Best First Screenplay: While Room and The Diary of a Teenage Girl have a very good shot, I’m inclined to say that they might give it to Me & Earl & The Dying Girl, even though it’s the film’s only nomination. PREDICTION: ME & EARL & THE DYING GIRL.
Best Editing: Again, Room is a contender, as is It Follows. However, there’s one clear winner here, who will likely repeat this victory at the Oscars, and that’s Spotlight. PREDICTED WINNER: SPOTLIGHT.
Best Documentary: The Look of Silence has received nothing but raves from everyone who has seen it, so it has to be the frontrunner. Heart of a Dog could surprise. PREDICTED WINNER: THE LOOK OF SILENCE.
Best International Film: Probably the biggest shock of the nominations was that no British entry got into this category, with Brooklyn, 45 Years and Ex_Machina all missing out on a nomination, in favour of foreign language films. I think it’s a safe bet that Son of Saul is going to win, and is also going to win in every Foreign Language category throughout the season. PREDICTED WINNER: SON OF SAUL.
John Cassavetes Award: Heaven Knows What received a nomination at Gotham for Best Feature, so it seems like an easy winner here. PREDICTED WINNER: HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT.
Robert Altman Award: Congratulations to Spotlight, the first of many awards coming it’s way.
The 31st Independent Spirit Awards are held on Saturday 27th February 2015. To vote, become a member of Film Independent before 4th December 2015.