Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2012 Film Independent Spirit Award Nominations

I absolutely love the Independent Spirit Awards. Acting as the unofficial antithesis to the Oscars, the Spirit Awards are meant to instill the wholesomeness of struggling, independent filmmakers.  Problem is, over the last few years, the Oscars have damn near mimicked the Spirits, sometimes for the better, often for the worse.

Maybe mainstream Indies are finally getting the mainstream attention they deserve. That or the Independent Spirit Awards aren’t nominating the proper films anymore. Hell, I’m getting ahead of myself, for now, let’s marvel over the (mostly good) 2012 Spirit Award nominations.

Best Feature
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Keep the Lights On
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook
This is going to be a Beasts of the Southern Wild vs. Silver Linings Playbook kind of year. I have a feeling that they’ll spilt a majority of the awards, but, as it sits now, I’d expect Silver Linings to come out on top.

Best Director
Wes Anderson – Moonrise Kingdom
Julia Loktev – The Loneliest Planet
David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
Ira Sachs – Keep the Lights On
Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild
Benh Zeitlin
Haven’t heard of Keep the Lights On (the trailer did nothing for me, you can watch it here), and I’m dying to see The Loneliest Planet, but the other three are expected and solid.

Best Screenplay
Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola – Moonrise Kingdom
Zoe Kazan – Ruby Sparks
Martin McDonagh – Seven Psychopaths
David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
Ira Sachs – Keep the Lights On
Martin McDonagh and Colin Farrell
So amusing that McDonagh was able to sneak in here. He should enjoy this ceremony, I have a feeling it’s about as far as his film will go.

Best First Feature
Fill the Void
Gimme the Loot
Safety Not Guaranteed
Sound of My Voice
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Emma Watson and Ezra Miller in Perks
Although I dig seeing The Perks of Being a Wallflower here, I’m kind of surprised it didn’t have a stronger showing. I’m still rooting for Sound of My Voice. I quite enjoyed that little flick.

Best First Screenplay
Rama Burshtein – Fill the Void
Derek Connolly – Safety Not Guaranteed
Christopher Ford – Robot & Frank
Rashida Jones & Will McCormack – Celeste and Jesse Forever
Jonathan Lisecki – Gayby
Jones in Celeste
Definitely had my issues with Celeste and Jesse Forever but I'm cool with it being here. Hey, it’s the Spirit Awards.

Best Male Lead
Jack Black – Bernie
Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
John Hawkes – The Sessions
Thure Lindhardt – Keep the Lights On
Matthew McConaughey – Killer Joe
Wendell Pierce – Four
McConaughey in Killer Joe
Really solid line up. Black’s Bernie performance is, I believe, the only Jack Black performance I’ve seen that didn’t annoy the hell out of me, so I’m happy he’s here. But really, this is all about that fantastic psycho, Killer Joe.

Best Female Lead
Linda Cardellini – Return
Emayatzy Corinealdi – Middle of Nowhere
Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild
Mary Elizabeth Winstead – Smashed
Winstead in Smashed
Another great category.  Lawrence, Wallis and Winstead were all perfect in their resptive roles. If I voted, Winstead would get my vote. No question.

Best Supporting Male
Matthew McConaughey – Magic Mike
David Oyelowo – Middle of Nowhere
Michael Péna – End of Watch
Sam Rockwell – Seven Psychopaths
Bruce Willis – Moonrise Kingdom
McConaughey in Magic Mike
I rewatched Magic Mike last weekend, and was reminded that Matthew McConaughey’s performance in it is and will be one of my favorites of the year. Perfect.

Best Supporting Female
Rosemarie DeWitt – Your Sister’s Sister
Ann Dowd – Compliance
Helen Hunt – The Sessions
Brit Marling – Sound of My Voice
Lorraine Toussaint – Middle of Nowhere
Dowd in Compliance
Easily the most confounding category of these nominations. I suppose I can understand placing Helen Hunt in the Supporting Actress category (because her role really does act to support John Hawkes’ performance), but that’s a stretch. Ann Dowd, on the other hand, is so clearly the female lead of Compliance, I honestly have no idea what she’s doing in this category. Either way, Dowd’s work remains one of my favorite performances of the year.

Best Cinematography
Yoni Brook – Valley of Saints
Lol Crawley – Here
Ben Richardson – Beasts of the Southern Wild
Roman Vasyanov – End of Watch
Robert Yeoman – Moonrise Kingdom
Kara Hayward in Moonrise Kingdom
Rust and Bone? Anyone? No? Beasts will do. So will Moonrise.

Best Documentary
How to Survive a Plague
Marina Abramoviæ: The Artist is Present
The Central Park Five
The Invisible War
The Waiting Room
The Central Park Five
The Invisible War rocked me to the core. The Waiting Room looks intense, and The Central Park Five looks… wow. A strong category.

Best International Film
Once Upon A Time in Anatolia
Rust and Bone
War Witch
Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone
Amour and Rust and Bone, two of the best films of the year, making an 11th-hour showing. Glad to see them here, but they deserved more love. (Or not, as I've seemed to forgotten that the Spirit Awards only recognize domestic flicks. Fair enough.)


  1. Amour and Rust and Bone weren't eligible for anything other than International Film. The Spirit Awards only recognize American productions.

    1. Aaaand that makes absolute perfect sense. Ha, can't believe I forgot about that. Great call!

  2. Thanks for highlighting the Spirit Awards, Alex. I haven't seen most of these, but I agree about "Amour" and "Rust and Bone." Are international films not allowed to be in the other categories? And Helen Hunt as supporting is silly. Anyway, so many more films to watch!

    1. Thanks! Yep, Amour and Rust and Bone were only eligible for International. Total brain fart on my part. Either way, some solid flicks here for sure!

  3. Your Intro - going through these nominations, that was the first question I asked myself? Why do they look so mainstream? Last couple of years, I wouldn't even know most of the nominated movies. This year, so many of them are in Oscar contention. Don't know that's right or wrong, don't know if it's just this year because of Beasts and Silver Linings and Moonrise but either way I am Happy.

    Nomination I am most happy about - Rosemarie Dewitt. LOVED her.

    1. They are very mainstream indeed, but yeah, like I said, maybe that's just because more great indies are getting the attention the deserve? (Or maybe not as many great smaller indies are being made? Who knows.)

      I've loved Rosemarie Dewitt since Rachel Getting Married, and I was thrilled to see her here. Definitely one of my favorite nominations on this list!

  4. Some great titles and actors up for awards, hardest to call would be lead actress for me. Love both Wallis and Winstead for the award. Seeing Silver Linings Playbook tomorrow, so I'll see how it stacks up against Beasts. That being said I hope Beasts gets as much hardware as it can, truly as unique and engrossing movie there is this year. Here's to the indies... saving the film industry one frame at a time.

    1. One frame at a time... that's goddamn right! Lead actress is definitely a tough call, and would be even tougher for me if Dowd was there, where she belongs.

      Be really curious to hear what you think about Sliver Linings.

  5. Agree with basically everything you've said here.

    Don't think Moonrise can win in Best Feature? I don't think it will win heaps of awards, but with no Lincoln / Argo / Les Mis I think it can topple over SLP - although SLP much more likely.

    1. I think the Indies are going to love going full circle by giving Russell's film the award, since essentially catapulting his career 17 years ago. So between that and Beasts, nah, I don't see Moonrise winning.

      Really interesting races though.

  6. Annnddd this nomination list is gold. When will the awards be announced?

    1. Gold for sure! The Spirit Awards are always the day before the Oscars, so... Feb. 23 this time around.

  7. i didn't love rust and bone, but i did like sound of my voice and beasts. moonrise kingdom was boring too. could barely get through it

    1. Rust and Bone is my favorite film of the year, but I agree about Moonrise, that one never really hit for me. I really liked Sound of My Voice and Beasts. Should be a good year.

  8. I love some of the surprises here, like Cardellini, Marling, Pena, DeWitt, and McConaughey in the acting categories. Or the love for Perks, Ruby Sparks, Safety Not Guaranteed, and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. Wonderful surprises.

    1. I agree. The Spirits always manage to cook up some solid surprises. But the rules are just weird to me. The Hurt Locker was nominated for a rack load of awards... the year before it won the Oscar. No foreign films allowed. Silver Linings Playbook cost more than $20 million.... I'd just love to see a breakdown of the qualifications and rules, you know?

    2. Yeah, I'd love to see them too. But I'd be happy if the loopholes were closed for Harvey, at least. ;)

    3. Hahah, no doubt man. That man owns the mainstream indie scene.

  9. I'm not too familiar with Independent Spirit Awards, but their choices looked solid. Going to see Rust and Bone this Saturday, looking forward to that :) Dying to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I think I agree with choosing Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike there. Happy to see Zoe Kazan's work in the list too!

    1. They are a really small, groovy awards show. I wish they showcased foreign independent film as well, but it's all good.

      Loved the hell out of Rust and Bone. That'll be my favorite of the year. LOVE that McConaughey pulled out two acting noms!

      Let me know how you like Rust and Bone :)

  10. On this list, I've only seen Bernie. Many of these other films are on my list. I'm just a die-hard wait-for-the-DVD kind of person. ;-)

    1. Hey fair enough! The cool thing about a lot of these is that they're available legally online, either through iTunes or somewhere else. But hopefully many will show up on DVD soon.

    2. Yes, I've been thinking I should become more savvy about accessing new movies online, because it would be fun to be able to discuss more new films. I'm not wedded to DVDs -- movie tickets just aren't in my budget. Of course, with such an insane number of good movies, from years past, on my watchlist, I'm really in no rush. :)

    3. Yep that's right, no rush at all. The films aren't going anywhere!

  11. Quite a good year for Indie Cinema, I really like the nominations. I'm going to see Beasts of Southern Wild soon, and I hope the same goes for Silver Linings Playbooks, it's been on everybody's lips lately.

    1. I agree, solid year for indies. Sliver Linings is fantastic, as is Beasts. It's definitely between those two movies here.