Predicting the Independent Spirit Awards

Sometime today-it may even be out by the time you read this-the Independent Spirit Awards will officially kick off Oscar season. While the award for the best of the films made without major studio help and a budget of under $30 million was originally designed to award films that couldn’t get into the Oscar race, shifting dynamics have made it one of the best indicators for how things will fare at the Kodak Theater. This year should be no different, with two of the major Best Picture contenders looking to make multiple appearances on this list. However, before that is officially announced, I thought I’d take the time to make a quick list of predictions for this years Indie Spirit Awards.

A run through of my predictions: first of all, major studios will not be eligible. So frontrunners Silence, Fences, and La La Land will not have any chance at a nomination. Furthermore, this is a list of my predictions TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITIES. I add this disclaimer because, while I can usually get three or four right in an acting category, the John Cassavetes Award for Best Film costing less than $500,000 is a crapshoot. I threw out five names and hoped for the best. Why? Because I don’t half ass this sort of thing. Now that this is settled, allow me to break down the categories.

I’d say there’s a list of ten films competing for every category, with mixed results: Hell or High Water, Jackie, Loving, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, Paterson, 20th Century Women, Swiss Army Man, Love and Friendship and Don’t Think Twice. I’d say that the first five are the most likely to be the big nominees. Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight are frontrunners in the Oscar race, so expect them to make multiple appearances across the board, including acting, writing, directing and tech. Meanwhile, expect Jackie, Loving and 20th Century Women to be acting hits, but fall behind in the technical fields. Hell or High Water will have the opposite success-not many acting or writing noms, but a whole lotta tech nods (and deservedly so-it’s one of the best of the year). And while they were both amongst my favorite films of 2016, expect Don’t Think Twice and Swiss Army Man to only pick up one or two token noms, if anything. It’s a sad statement, because I really dug both films, but they’re going to be hammered by the Oscar contenders. That’s the way this world works.

The only real “lock” is the Robert Altman Award for Ensemble Casting. That’s going to Moonlight, by far the best ensemble work of any cast in years. You can take that prediction to the bank. Meanwhile, the Documentary and International film categories are something of a mixed bag-I went for the films most likely to appear here, based on size, budget and backing, but I could still be completely wrong.

Obviously, the Independent Spirit Awards are more of a minor deal, or I would have analyzed my predictions a little bit more. Really, anything can appear there tomorrow, and I doubt it would have any impact to really shake up the race. Their biggest role is to award the films that don’t really have power players there to finance them, and to get the word out about lesser-known great films. And I hope that my predictions will a) be right or b) let you know about some film you haven’t heard about whether it’s right or not. You can find out tomorrow if I was right, and you can also look at this as a list of lesser-known films to check out. Tune in tomorrow for the full list of nominees.

Best Picture

  • Hell or High Water
  • Jackie
  • Loving
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight

Best Actor

  • Casey Affleck-Manchester by the Sea
  • Adam Driver-Paterson
  • Joel Edgerton-Loving
  • Viggo Mortensen-Captain Fantastic
  • Daniel Radcliffe-Swiss Army Man

Best Actress

  • Annette Bening-20th Century Women
  • Sasha Lane-American Honey
  • Ruth Negga-Loving
  • Sarah Paulson-Blue Jay
  • Natalie Portman-Jackie

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali-Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges-Hell or High Water
  • Chris Gethard-Don’t Think Twice
  • Lucas Hedges-Manchester by the Sea
  • Trevante Rhodes-Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress

  • Naomi Harris-Moonlight
  • Helen Mirren-Eye in the Sky
  • Molly Shannon-Other People
  • Kristen Stewart-Certain Women
  • Michelle Williams-Manchester by the Sea

Best Director

  • Barry Jenkins-Moonlight
  • Pablo Larraín-Jackie
  • Kenneth Lonergan-Manchester by the Sea
  • Jeff Nichols-Loving
  • Kelly Reichardt-Certain Women

Best Screenplay

  • 20th Century Women
  • Love and Friendship
  • Loving
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight

Best First Feature

  • Equity
  • The Fits
  • Other People
  • Southside With You
  • Swiss Army Man

Best First Screenplay

  • The Edge of Seventeen
  • The Intervention
  • Other People
  • Spa Night
  • Swiss Army Man

Best Editing

  • Hell or High Water
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight
  • Paterson
  • Swiss Army Man

Best Cinematography

  • A Bigger Splash
  • Hell or High Water
  • Jackie
  • Moonlight
  • The Witch

Best Documentary

  • Cameraperson
  • Gleason
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • Tickled
  • Weiner

Best International Film

  • Aquarius
  • Elle
  • Julieta
  • The Salesman
  • Toni Erdmann

John Cassavetes Award

  • Barry
  • First Girl I Loved
  • The Fits
  • Love Everlasting
  • Spa Night

Robert Altman Award

  • Moonlight

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