Independent Spirit Awards Nominations

So ready to see this. ()
So ready to see this. (Source)

And the season continues… (found here)

Best Feature Film:

  • Birdman, or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
  • Boyhood
  • Love is Strange
  • Selma
  • Whiplash

Birdman (my #6) is a fine choice, and Whiplash (my #14; I’ll get my review up one of these days, promise) is a solid one. Boyhood (#25) wouldn’t make my list, but I understand it. And I’m quite anxious to see Selma, since the reviews so far have been glowing. But…Love is Strange? I really don’t get why people went so nuts for this movie. It’s not bad (it’s #48 on my list, but it’s still a solid 74/100), but it isn’t best-of-the year good.

And based on the rest of the nominations, I’m really surprised they didn’t just nominate Nightcrawler, which is a far better film.

Best Director:

  • Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
  • Ava DuVernary, Selma
  • Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  • David Zellner, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

I like the nomination for Kumiko. Does this mean it’s getting released soon?

Anyway, Iñárritu is my #3, Chazelle my #7, and Linklater my #21 (but given what it took to make the film, I’m all right with it). And I bet DuVernay does a fine job. So I’m pretty happy with this category.

Best Screenplay:

  • Big Eyes
  • Love is Strange
  • A Most Violent Year
  • Nightcrawler
  • Only Lovers Left Alive

This is a strange little category. Nightcrawler is a good script (my #8), and Love is Strange (my #20)…not a great script, especially in terms of structure, but it has good things in it. Big Eyes is a weird choice; it seems awfully mainstream for these awards, plus the reviews to date have been fairly middling. Only Lovers Left Alive seems like a pretty random choice, too; does anyone really care about that film anymore? A Most Violent Year, though, I’m sure is acceptable.

But there’s a wrinkle to this category that I’ll discuss with this next one…

Best First Feature:

  • Dear White People
  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
  • Nightcrawler
  • Obvious Child
  • She’s Lost Control

I’ll be honest: I don’t like “First Feature” and “First Screenplay” and “Breakthrough Actor/Actress” awards. That they allow recognition for newcomers is good. That they keep the newcomers marginalized is not. Dear White People is a brilliant film–currently, my #1 of the year. And Nightcrawler (my #12) is also a fine film. Yet neither get into Best Feature, because they’ve been shunted over here. I call bullshit. The best films are the best films.

I’ll be seeing A Girl Walks Home soon; I can’t wait. Haven’t seen Obvious Child, but I probably should. She’s Lost Control is apparently a thriller about a sex therapist who falls for her client; sounds interesting, reviews are mixed.

Best First Screenplay:

  • Appropriate Behavior
  • Dear White People
  • Little Accidents
  • The One I Love
  • She’s Lost Control

And here’s the best screenplay of the year. Ugh.

Appropriate Behavior actually sounds pretty interesting; it’s about a bisexual Persian woman who’s in the closet to her conservative parents, and the same person (Desiree Akhavan) wrote, directed, and starred in it. So that I might want to see. Little Accidents (set in a mining town after a disaster) has a good cast: Elizabeth Banks, Boyd Holbrook, Chloë Sevigny, Josh Lucas, and Jacob Lofland. Possibly worth checking out. And The One I Love is this apparently-weird film with Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss. Also possibly worth it.

Still, Dear White People should win this by a mile.

Best Female Lead:

  • Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant
  • Rinko Kikuchi, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice
  • Jenny Slate, Obvious Child
  • Tilda Swinton, Only Lovers Left Alive

The Immigrant? Really? Cotillard isn’t even that great in it (she’s my #22), and it’s not a very good film. So yeah, no to that.

Love that Kikuchi got on. I’ll root for her. Moore is considered a major threat to win the Oscar here; we’ll see. I’ve heard Slate is really good, so if she won, I wouldn’t mind too much. Swinton, though, seems like a weird choice. I haven’t seen the film, nor have I really wanted to, but from the trailers…eh? Give me Tessa Thompson any day. Or Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who had two worthy performances this year.

Best Male Lead:

  • André Benjamin, Jimi: All is By My Side
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman
  • John Lithgow, Love is Strange
  • David Oyelowo, Selma

Well, my #1 (Keaton) and #3 (Gyllenhaal) make the cut. And Lithgow is no slouch either; he’s my #14. Oyelowo, I’m sure, is excellent (he was great in The Butler). Benjamin seems like the odd one out here, but I can see it.

Best Supporting Female:

  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  • Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
  • Carmen Ejogo, Selma
  • Andrea Suarez Paz, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
  • Emma Stone, Birdman

First off, I love that Paz got on. I’d predicted her, rather blindly, as a contender for my own awards way back when. I wasn’t even sure if she’d be considered Supporting. But I love that this film hasn’t slipped totally through the cracks. I hope I get to see it eventually.

As for the rest, it’s a good category. Stone is my #1 (whatever issues I had with Birdman, the acting was most certainly not one of them), and while I wasn’t as enamored of Arquette’s performance as most (she’s my #13), she did a good job and I’m cool with the nomination. Ejogo (she plays Coretta Scott King) has been pegged as a lock for a nominee for ages now, so this comes as no surprise. Chastain…I’m sure she’s great (she always is), but she’s probably not winning this. The Oscar is another matter (since she lost in 2012 when she probably should’ve won), but this isn’t her year here.

Also, where the fuck is Rene Russo for Nightcrawler?

Best Supporting Male:

  • Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Alfred Molina, Love is Strange
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Hey, I’ve seen all 5 performances. Ranked, they are Norton (#1 overall), Simmons (#3), Molina (#15 in Lead–more on that), Hawke (#21), and Ahmed (#43).

To begin with, the nomination for Ahmed further shows how ridiculous it is that Nightcrawler isn’t up for Best Feature. He does a solid job, but to nominate him and not the film–or Rene Russo–is just ridiculous. And nominating Molina here is bullshit, since he’s got as much (and arguably more) screentime than Lithgow. Hawke is fine–my issues are more with the writing of his character than his performance.

But this is really down to Norton and Simmons. Simmons is great, to be sure, but (and I’ll discuss this more in my forthcoming review) the character owes more of a debt to R. Lee Ermey’s work in Full Metal Jacket than I like. So that, coupled with how amazing Norton was, leads me to vote for Norton. If he won, I wouldn’t mind at all, but Norton gave the best performance.

Best Cinematography:

  • Birdman
  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
  • The Immigrant
  • It Felt Like Love
  • Selma

Great category. I didn’t care for The Immigrant, but it looked great (it’s only my #10, though). A Girl Walks Home is shot in B&W and looks good and noir-y. It Felt Like Love, a teenage girl’s coming-of-age story, sounds interesting and is apparently quite beautifully shot. Selma I’m a little less sure about (the trailers didn’t really sell me on the cinematography), but I’ll let the film itself prove me wrong.

That’s all academic, though, since Birdman is my #1 and should win Emmanuel Lubezki a second Oscar. (And I guess I’m alone in my regard for Dear White People‘s cinematography.)

Best Editing:

  • Boyhood
  • The Guest
  • A Most Violent Year
  • Nightcrawler
  • Whiplash

Seen 3 of these. In order: Whiplash (#4), Nightcrawler (#7), and Boyhood (#19). I wanted to see The Guest but never got around to it.

Boyhood will probably win, since it meant the assembly of 12 years’ worth of footage, but for me, Whiplash was far better at actually using editing to tell the story.

Best Documentary:

  • The Salt of the Earth
  • Stray Dog
  • 20,000 Days on Earth
  • Virunga

I really hope 20,000 Days gets an Oscar nomination.

Virunga’s on Netflix now. Need to watch that.

But I’m banking on CITIZENFOUR winning.

Best International Film:

  • Force Majeure
  • Ida
  • Leviathan
  • Mommy
  • Norte, the End of History
  • Under the Skin

I got to see Force Majeure, and let me tell you–brilliant film. ****, definitely. Really hope the Oscars nominate it. Ida is also ****, of course.

Love the Norte shout-out. Hope I get to see that sooner rather than later. Ditto Leviathan and Mommy.

Under the Skin, though…really? I don’t see it.

John Cassavetes Award (for films made for under $500,000):

  • Blue Ruin
  • It Felt Like Love
  • Land Ho!
  • Man from Reno
  • Test

Some interesting stuff here (Man from Reno sounds quite cool), but I’d be inclined to go with either Blue Ruin or It Felt Like Love.

Robert Altman Award (goes to the film’s director, casting director, and ensemble cast):

  • Inherent Vice

Not sure exactly what this award denotes, but cool to seem some love for a film that seems to be getting a rather mixed reception (that I still am eager to see).

Special Distinction Award:

  • Foxcatcher

Apparently I won’t get to see this till January? What the hell?

And that’s it for the Indie Spirit Awards. Overall pretty good.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. cinecharlie says:

    Great commentary, and I’m glad you’ve already seen most of the nominees. I’m still waiting for Birdman and Whiplash to be released here in France.
    I like the 2 nods for “Only Lovers Left Alive”: at last the film got recognition somewhere. I would probably nominate it for Score. You should check it out, it’s great Jarmusch.
    I love the mentions for Under the Skin, Mommy, Blue Ruin & The Salt of the Earth !
    I didn’t like The Immigrant that much (I feel it stumbles in 2d half) but the cinematography & Marion Cotillard truly impressed me, so kudos for seeing them here.

    1. mountanto says:

      Thanks! I probably will see OLLA eventually, but with all the other stuff I’ve got on my plate, it’s not high on my list–especially compared to Blue Ruin and Mommy.

      I just didn’t see that much from Cotillard, at least not the one time I saw it. Maybe the fault was more with the script, but I didn’t get much from her work.

      1. cinecharlie says:

        I’m eager to read your thoughts on Mommy . I’ve been following Xavier Dolan since his debut in 2009, and it’s a pleasure to see him finally break through with this film. Even though I prefer “Heartbeats” or “Laurence Anyways”.

      2. mountanto says:

        I REALLY want to see Laurence Anyways. I’d hoped to see it in the theater, but never had the chance.

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