34th Independent Spirit Award Nominations

Well everyone, it’s time: the 34th Independent Spirit Awards have announced their nominations for 2018, and a handful of arthouse classics have gotten a big boost. And while some contenders like The Favourite and Roma were ineligible outside of the Best International Film category (in which they were both nominated), and others had limited eligibility (i.e. If Beale Street Could Talk) or completely ineligible (i.e. Beautiful Boy), we now know which independent films have the strength to not only sweep the critical season starting later this week, but also contend at the Oscars this January.

Between the Independent Spirit Awards and the Gotham Awards, it is clear that there are two (highly deserving films) competing for the title of most beloved indie film of 2018: Eighth Grade and First Reformed. Bo Burnham’s empathetic, wonderful breakout hit has received four nominations: Best Feature, Best Actress for Elsie Fisher, Best Supporting Actor for Josh Hamilton, and Best First Screenplay. Meanwhile, Paul Schrader’s old-school masterpiece received four nominations of its own: Best Feature, Best Director and Best Screenplay for Schrader, and Best Actor for Ethan Hawke (who honestly should win it in a cakewalk). One of these two will likely be your frontrunner for the major awards, but don’t be surprised if they face stiff competition. Beale Street received three nominations of its own, in spite of its limited eligibility, and will see Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to Moonlight competing in Best Feature, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress for Regina King. And best of all, I am excited to report that You Were Never Really Here, one of the best films of the year, was nominated in four categories: Best Feature, Best Director for Lynne Ramsay, Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix, and Best Editing. Other major nominees include Leave No Trace with three nominations (Best Feature, Best Director for Debra Granik, and Thomasin McKenzie in Best Supporting Actress), The Tale (Best First Screenplay, Best First Feature, and Best Editing), and Wildlife (Best First Feature for Paul Dano, Best Cinematography, and Best Actress for Carey Mulligan).

Meanwhile, several major independent films you may have heard about this year appeared in below-the-line categories. Both Hereditary and Sorry To Bother You earned two nominations apiece: Hereditary is nominated for Best Actress (for Toni Collette, natch), Sorry To Bother You is nominated for Best Screenplay, and both films are nominated for Best First Feature. Meanwhile, indie darling (which I have yet to see) We The Animals has earned four nominations (Supporting Actor, First Feature, Cinematography, and Editing), as well as the Klehl’s Someone To Watch Award for director Jeremiah Zagar. Madeline’s Madeline earned two nominations, for Female Lead (Helena Howard) and Cinematography. And despite not earning several nominations that it absolutely deserved, Support the Girls, one of my favorites of the year, has earned a nomination for Regina Hall in Best Female Lead.

As with every awards show, there are a handful of nominations that arrive as surprises, and a handful of contenders who may rightly feel snubbed. Starting with the surprises, it is nice to see both John Cho and Daveed Diggs appearing in the Lead Actor category (for Searching and Blindspotting, respectively). In the genre categories, I was excited to see Thoroughbreds and Mandy both earning love (First Screenplay and Cinematography, respectively). I am elated to see Suspiria take home the Robert Altman Award for Best Ensemble (which it wholeheartedly deserves). And perhaps most exciting of all is the fact that three women earned nominations for Best Director this year: the previously mentioned Debra Granik and Lynne Ramsay, as well as Tamara Jenkins for Private Life. This is a stunning (and deserved!) blow in favor of progress. However, not everyone is going home happy after this announcement. Despite nominations for Can You Ever Forgive Me? in Best Screenplay (deserved) and Richard E. Grant for Best Supporting Actor (very deserved), the film failed to earn nominations for Best Feature, Best Director, or even for Melissa McCarthy, who should be winning these categories. Faring even worse is BlacKkKlansman, which only earned a nomination for Adam Driver. Not Best Feature, not Best Director, and not Best Screenplay (its star, John David Washington, was nominated for Best Supporting Male for his role in Monsters and Men). This is a tough blow for both of these contenders, but there’s no reason to fear yet: Three Billboards missed out on big nominations last year, and The Shape of Water earned zero nominations, and despite early fears for both films, they both ended up performing just fine at the Oscars.

The 34th Independent Spirit Awards will be held on February 23rd, 2019, the day before the Oscars. You can see the full list of nominees below.

Best Feature

  • Eighth Grade
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • First Reformed
  • Leave No Trace
  • You Were Never Really Here

Best First Feature

  • Hereditary
  • Sorry To Bother You
  • The Tale
  • We The Animals
  • Wildlife

Best Director

  • Debra Granik – Leave No Trace
  • Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Tamara Jenkins – Private Life
  • Lynne Ramsay – You Were Never Really Here
  • Paul Schrader – First Reformed

Best Actor

  • John Cho – Searching
  • Daveed Diggs – Blindspotting
  • Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
  • Christian Malheiros – Sócrates
  • Joaquin Phoenix – You Were Never Really Here

Best Actress

  • Glenn Close – The Wife
  • Toni Collette – Hereditary
  • Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
  • Regina Hall – Support The Girls
  • Helena Howard – Madeline’s Madeline
  • Carey Mulligan – Wildlife 

Best Supporting Actor

  • Raúl Castillo – We The Animals
  • Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman
  • Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Josh Hamilton – Eighth Grade
  • John David Washington – Monsters and Men

Best Supporting Actress

  • Kayli Carter – Private Life
  • Tyne Daly – A Bread Factory
  • Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie – Leave No Trace
  • Smith-Cameron – Nancy

Best Screenplay

  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Colette
  • First Reformed
  • Private Life
  • Sorry to Bother You 

Best First Screenplay

  • Blame
  • Eighth Grade
  • Nancy
  • The Tale
  • Thoroughbreds

Best Cinematography

  • Madeline’s Madeline
  • Mandy
  • Suspiria
  • We The Animals
  • Wildlife

Best Editing

  • American Animals
  • Mid90s
  • The Tale
  • We The Animals
  • You Were Never Really Here

Best Documentary

  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening
  • Minding the Gap
  • Of Fathers and Sons
  • On Her Shoulders
  • Shirkers
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Best International Film

  • Burning
  • The Favourite
  • Happy As Lazzaro
  • Roma
  • Shoplifters

John Cassavetes Award

  • A Bread Factory
  • En El Sèptimo Día
  • Never Goin’ Back
  • Sócrates
  • Thunder Road

Robert Altman Award: Suspiria

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