The Spirit Awards have given their Best Picture prize to the film that ultimately won Best Picture at the Oscars in five out of the past six years. The notable exceptions have been when the Oscars went more general audience than “indie.” That was true with The King’s Speech in 2010 and true again in 2012 with Argo. But The Artist, 12 Years a Slave, Birdman, Spotlight and Moonlight have all won both. The key thing to notice is that they all earned both SAG ensemble nominations (as did King’s Speech and Argo, who won both, actually) and they had Best Director nominations at the Spirit Awards. This year was a very competitive year for the top prizes at the Spirits, but only three films have both:
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino
The Rider, Chloé Zhao
That narrows things from the indie world significantly, if you go by the recent pattern. Make of that what you will except to say that Get Out is also the only one of all of them that has Gotham nominations for both Director and Picture. So at this point in the roller coaster ride that is Oscars 2018, one would have to say that Get Out is leading the Oscar race. That is, unless the Oscars are finally ready to go back to bigger studio fare with Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Darkest Hour, The Post, etc. We just don’t know how that is going to go yet; we have only very very small sample sizes at the moment (two groups), but one has to look at the movie that hits every target and so far, Get Out is the only one that’s doing it.
In terms of the rest of the Spirit nominations, it was nice to see Salma Hayek and Mike White honored for Beatriz at Dinner, which is still one of my favorites of the year. It was horrifying to see the near-shutout of Mudbound, which got a special prize here as it did with the Gotham’s — a trend that will likely continue. Lady Bird was dinged with no nomination for Greta Gerwig in Best Director (no feature nomination at the Gotham’s). Clearly they like a lot of movies in the independent world and can’t decide on one — they like Florida Project, Lady Bird, I, Tonya, Good Time, but consistently and across the board they like Get Out. Whatever movie emerges next will be a challenger to Get Out for the Best Picture prize, making Jordan Peele potentially the first black director to win the Oscar for directing in 90 years of Oscar history. Can it? Will it? Might it? Who knows!