Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How About Those Sprit Award Nominations?

I seriously dig the Film Independent Spirit Awards. I like the nonchalant, profane-laden style of its ceremony, the audacity of its choices (both in nominations and winners), but most of all, I like the Spirit Awards because they have the uncanny ability to shed light on the films that deserve more attention than they’re ever given.

Worthy films that lost the Best Picture Academy Award, including Pulp Fiction, Leaving Las Vegas, Fargo, Memento, Brokeback Mountain, and The Wrestler, were given a chance to shine by taking home the Spirit Awards’ top prize.  I don’t care about the numerous critics’ awards or the Golden Globes; aside from the Oscars, it’s all about the guilds and the Spirits.

The Oscars are far more revered, but in my world, the winners of the Spirit Awards are far more deserving.

Breaking down this year’s nominees, which were announced yesterday, is admittedly a bit premature. Like most people, I have yet to see The Artist (which, a month ago, I predicted would win the Best Picture Oscar), so my choices will undoubtedly be skewed once that film comes out next weekend.  And how about those snubs: Young AdultWe Need To Talk About KevinShame… Glenn Close… W.E. (joke)… all conspicuously absent.

Regardless, here are my picks for the 2011 Spirit Awards:

Best Feature
The Artist
The Descendants
Take Shelter
I see five great films here, and 50/50, which I still attest is less than mediocre. Drive, for the win.

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Mike Mills, Beginners
Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
Releasing a silent, black and white film is extremely ballsy, and I give Hazanavicius his due props, but no director's style blew me away more this year than Refn's.

Best Male Lead
Demi├ín Bichir, A Better Life
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Ryan Gosling, Drive
Woody Harrelson, Rampart
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter
Tough. Love seeing Bichir here, Dujardin is excellent I’m sure, Harrelson will be nothing less than stellar, but for me, it’s Gosling or Shannon. Both actors did very much by saying very little, but I gotta go Gosling.

Best Supporting Male
Albert Brooks, Drive
John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
John C. Reilly, Cedar Rapids
Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris
This is exactly what I’m talking about: where the hell else are you going to see Corey Stoll, who played Ernest Hemingway miraculously in Midnight in Paris, nominated for anything? Despite my praise, I have yet to shake Albert Brooks’ terrifying Bernie Rose. “My hands are a little dirty…” “… so are mine.” That’s damn right.

Best Female Lead
Lauren Ambrose, Think of Me
Rachael Harris, Natural Selection
Adepero Oduye, Pariah
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
I’ve only seen Williams and Olsen, and it's Olsen by far.

Best Supporting Female
Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter
Anjelica Huston, 50/50
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Harmony Santana, Gun Hill Road
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Another tough one. Huston was the best part about 50/50 (which isn’t saying a lot), and Chastain has had a hell of a year, but Woodley did something in The Descendants that I haven’t seen in a long while: she actually acted how teenagers act, resulting in an unforgettable performance.

Best Screenplay
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Mike Mills, Beginners
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, The Descendants
Joseph Cedar, Footnote
Tom McCarthy, Win Win
The Descendants, simply because it was written how people speak, which is unfortunately extremely rare in today’s cinema.

Best First Screenplay
Mike Cahill & Brit Marling, Another Earth
Phil Johnston, Cedar Rapids
Will Reiser, 50/50
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Patrick deWitt, Terri

The only film I can possibly choose is Margin Call, which is the only one I haven’t seen. Didn’t like the other four at all.

Best First Feature
Another Earth
In the Family
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Natural Selection


So what about you? Who do you think should walk away with independent film’s most coveted prize?


  1. Thanks for reminding me about the spirits awards, had actually slipped my mind. I hope to see many of these when they reach my area. Refn won for director at Cannes, so wouldn't be surprised he won again. Is there a soundtrack compilation award? Drive would win by a mile ( :

  2. These awards certainly look more interesting than the Oscars. I hate awards season because so few of the film's they're talking about have come out here. New Zealand is a shit place for film releases. We get everything months later than the rest of the world.

  3. I like the Spirit Awards too. I am happy with a lot of the selections - because it's very possible they won't be there on Oscar day despite being very deserving.

    Here are my picks:

    Best Pic: I think The Artist will win (though I am yet to see it or 50/50) but I'd love a Drive or Take Shelter win. I am assuming that 2/3 of these films will go on to get a Best Pic nom - The Artist/Descendants seem likely, but Drive and Take Shelter are just as deserving. Arguably more so than The Descendants.

    Best Director: Hazanvicius likely. But I'd go Refn.

    Best Male Lead: It's down to Gosling and Shannon - and I still think Shannon's is the best performance so far this year. No Clooney here? Interesting. I thought he was very good, but if he is nominated for an Oscar, I don't see him winning. Pitt, on the other hand, took out the NYFCC Award the other day.

    Best Female Lead - Olsen. Only seen her performance from the bunch, but she was excellent.

    Best Supporting Female - This is a tough choice. I have loved Jessica Chastain in all of her roles this year (and I singled out Take Shelter as her best - though if she is nominated for an Oscar it will probably be for The Help). I'd like to pick her here, but I'm going to go Woodley. Damn she was good. Hope she gets an Oscar nom too.

    Best Supporting Male - Hawkes. Definitely.

    Best Screenplay - Yeah, The Descendants. I agree with what you say. I thought Win Win was pretty great too, but a little too neat and safe.

    Best First Feature - MMMM. Yep.

  4. Well, Alex, aren't you a big Drive fan? You're giving out so many awards for it? I do agree on the Director part, Refn is fantastic, but I don't think it will win anything else, maybe, maybe Supporting Actor!
    Basing my decisions on just what I have seen or what i can guess, I'll go with:
    Best Picture: The Artist or The Descendants(although I haven't seen them) or Drive
    Best Director: Refn
    Best Male Lead: Gosling or Shannon
    Best Supporting Male:I would like Brooks or Hawkes, but I think Plummer might win
    Best Female Lead: E. Olsen
    Best Supporting Female: Jessica Chastain
    Best Screenplay: pass
    Best First Feature: MMMM or Margin Call

  5. Feature - I've only seen 50/50 and Beginners, but I bet The Descendants or Drive would win over those two.

    Director - Probably have to go with NWR.

    Male Lead - Woody

    Supporting Male - Plummer, although Reilly was hilarious

    Female lead - I haven't seen any of those! :(

    Supporting Female - Only seen 50/50 out of those so I can't say

    Screenplay - Out of the two I've seen - Beginners and Win Win - I'd have to go with the latter.

    1st Screenplay - Cedar Rapids

    1st Feature - MMMM I'm betting.

    That was fun! Ignoring that your post reminds me that I haven't seen enough movies lately, however.

  6. @Chris, oh god, the Drive soundtrack is ridiculous. I've basically had it on repeat since the movie came out

    @Tyler, yeah I figured. That really sucks. The Spirit Awards are legit, they encourage the winners to curse during their acceptance speeches (it's aired on cable TV), so it can be damn funny

    @Andy, so we pretty much agree on everything = shocker. haha great pics. You're right, it is interesting to not see Clooney here. I guess because his Oscar nom is such a lock, they wanted to spread the love around

    @Aziza, yep, Drive is my shit. I like your picks, and you may be right about Plummer, he's the sentimental favorite. But then again, so is Brooks...

    thanks for commenting everyone!

  7. @Robert, haha nice. So Woody huh? Have you seen Rampart, or just calling your shots early?

  8. No I don't believe they do have a music category. I didn't really care for Another Earth, but the music was pretty good in it.

    Thanks for stopping by!