There is much ado these days about how the Spirit Awards aren’t honoring independence anymore but are really another step in the Oscar race. I don’t know if that’s true or if the Oscar race is slowly becoming more independent, valuing and honoring films that don’t cost much money.
Maybe now they need an actual independent spirit awards that is even more independent than these to honor truly groundbreaking indie film. Beasts of the Southern Wild which was made with crowdfunding not beating Silver Linings Playbook was an example of just how dramatically the awards have changed, hewing closer to the general consensus and farther away from the fringe.
Getting the biggest boost today has to be Ava DuVernay’s Selma, which just got its first jolt with Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress and Cinematography. None of the Feature nominees got a corresponding Screenplay nod, which is interesting, but four out of five of the Best Directing nominees have corresponding Best Picture nods – that makes this an extremely tight race.
We used to call the Spirit Awards the kiss of death for Oscar because usually a film would win there and then another, bigger movie would win the Oscar. But The Artist won in 2011 and 12 Years a Slave won in 2013 so perhaps it must no longer be referred to that way.
While Ava DuVernay does not quite make history as the first African American female to earn a Best Director nomination, she does make history with a Best Picture and Best Director nomination there, which is significant, I think, because it shows how popular Selma is right now. With three strong contenders for the win the Spirit Awards will be a nail-biter. I’m going to bet Best Picture goes to Boyhood, but that Ava DuVernay wins Best Director, which Inarritu and Linklater split that vote there. I could be wrong and we have a long way to go before then.
The predictions for the Best Picture race look eerily like the best five films the Spirit Awards just nominated for Best Picture, with one exception:
Love is Strange
How wonderful for Ira Sachs to receive this honor in a season that has paid little attention to Love is Strange. It is sandwiched between what are considered to be among the most competitive films in the Oscar race so far, minus the Imitation Game, which did not make the list, nor did Wild, which was also eligible.
Compare this list with last year’s:
12 Years a Slave
All is Lost
Inside Llewyn Davis
At the time, we thought four of those were sure bets for Oscar’s Best Picture but in the end, only two received crossover nominations.
The same thing happened the previous year:
Silver Linings Playbook
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Keep the Lights On
We thought three would make it but in the end, only two did.
And the year before:
Two also got in.
But when we get to 2010, when there a solid 10 slots for nominations, it broadens somewhat:
The Kids Are All Right
And finally, 2009:
500 Days of Summer
The Last Station
The question is, will this be a year where more than two get in? Where four get in? We have no way of knowing except that to say that in the years that matched this one – five Spirit Award nods to the Academy’s five slots for nominations (plus spillover films with enough votes) only two have gotten in.
It’s hard to imagine the Oscar race without:
But in a year like this one, anything could happen.
The Best Actress lineup is also kind of strange, especially since Reese Witherspoon did not get a nomination for Wild. Julianne Moore will win there, quite easily:
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Only Lovers Left Alive