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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Briefly... on the 29th Independent Spirit Award Nominations

Film Flam Flummox


As has become more common than not over the last ten years, the nomination leader for the 29th Film Independent Spirit Awards is a film released by a boutique division of a major Hollywood studio: Fox Searchlight's 12 Years a Slave, with seven nominations including Best Feature. What makes this year's case potentially interesting is that the film is, at this admittedly very early stage of awards season, a major contender to factor strongly at the Academy Awards, so the usual "win on Saturday, lose on Sunday" pattern usually followed on awards weekend may be broken for the first time in March 2014. Another studio release, Paramount Vantage's Nebraska, earned the second most nominations with six. But some true indies do factor in this list, including the film which placed third on the nod tally, Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate's All Is Lost, with four.

While this list is expectedly populated with a lot of the more popular and acclaimed independent releases this year, as with every year there are some peculiarities. Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha scored a Best Feature nomination, but none for Baumbach's direction or screenplay, and even more curiously, none for the film's star Greta Gerwig--and the film is more or less carried by her performance. Festival and critical darling Short Term 12 earned three nods, including the highly touted Brie Larson for Best Female Lead, the film didn't get a Best Feature nod, nor was its writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton nominated for anything. While the film's screenplay and Julie Delpy's lead performance were nominated, Before Midnight is notably absent from the Best Feature category. Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station has three nominations, but one of them is not a Best Supporting Female nod for Octavia Spencer, but her co-star Melonie Diaz did make that cut. But most annoying of all is James Franco's instantly quotable, and dare I say instantly iconic, work in Spring Breakers somehow didn't make the Best Supporting Male list. If Franco's fearless, all-in, take-no-prisoners performance isn't the very epitome of "independent spirit," I don't know what is.

The full list of nominees:

BEST FEATURE
(Award given to the Producer, Executive Producers are not awarded)

  • 12 Years a Slave - Dede Gardner, Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Brad Pitt, Bill Pohlad
  • All Is Lost - Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb
  • Frances Ha - Noah Baumbach, Scott Rudin, Rodrigo Teixeira, Lila Yacoub
  • Inside Llewyn Davis - Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin
  • Nebraska - Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa
BEST DIRECTOR

BEST SCREENPLAY

BEST FIRST FEATURE
(Award given to the director and producer)

  • Blue Caprice - Alexandre Moors, director/producer; Kim Jackson, Brian O'Carroll, Isen Robbins, Will Rowbotham, Ron Simons, Aimee Schoof, Stephen Tedeschi, producers
  • Concussion - Stacie Passon, director; Rose Troche, producer
  • Fruitvale Station - Ryan Coogler, director; Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, producers
  • Una Noche - Lucy Mulloy, director/producer; Sandy Pérez Aguila, Maite Artieda, Daniel Mulloy, Yunior Santiago, producers
  • Wadjda - Haifaa Al Mansour, director; Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul, producers
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
Given to the best feature made for under $500,000. Award given to the writer, director, and producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.

  • Computer Chess - Andrew Bujalski, writer/director; Houston King & Alex Lipschultz, producers
  • Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and 2012 - Sebastián Silva, writer/director; Juan de Dios Larraín & Pablo Larraín, producers
  • Museum Hours - Jem Cohen, writer/director; Paolo Calamita & Gabriele Kranzelbinder, producers
  • Pit Stop - Yen Tan, writer/director; David Lowery, writer; Jonathan Duffy, James M. Johnston, Eric Steele, Kelly Williams, producers
  • This is Martin Bonner - Chad Hartigan, writer/director; Cherie Saulter, producer
BEST FEMALE LEAD

BEST MALE LEAD

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

BEST SUPPORTING MALE

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

BEST EDITING

BEST DOCUMENTARY
(Award given to the director and producer)

  • The Act of Killing - Joshua Oppenheimer, director/producer; Joram Ten Brink, Christine Cynn, Anne Köhncke, Signe Byrge Sørensen, Michael Uwemedimo, producers
  • After Tiller - Martha Shane & Lana Wilson, directors/producers
  • Gideon's Army - Dawn Porter, director/producer; Julie Goldman, producer
  • The Square - Jehane Noujaim, director; Karim Amer, producer
  • 20 Feet From Stardom - Morgan Neville, director/producer; Gil Friesen & Caitrin Rogers, producers
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
(Award given to the director)

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
(Given to one film’s director, casting director, and its ensemble cast)

Mud
Director: Jeff Nichols
Casting Director: Francine Maisler
Ensemble Cast: Joe Don Baker, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard, Tye Sheridan, Paul Sparks, Bonnie Sturdivant, Reese Witherspoon

17th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
The 17th annual Producers Award, sponsored by Piaget, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget.

  • Toby Halbrooks & James M. Johnston
  • Jacob Jaffke
  • Andrea Roa
  • Frederick Thornton
20th ANNUAL SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
The 20th annual Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition.

  • My Sister's Quinceañera - Aaron Douglas Johnston
  • Newlyweeds - Shaka King
  • The Foxy Merkins - Madeline Olnek
19th ANNUAL STELLA ARTOIS TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
The 19th annual Truer Than Fiction Award, sponsored by Stella Artois, is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

  • Kalyanee Mam, A River Changes Course
  • Jason Osder, Let the Fire Burn
  • Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez, Manakamana


The 29th Film Independent Spirit Awards will be handed out, as is tradition, in a tent on Santa Monica beach the afternoon the day before the Oscars, on Saturday, March 1, 2014.

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