Oscars 2018: Independent Spirit Award nominations

They announced the Independent Spirit Award nominations today. And I, for one, am happy. Because as much as I’ve tried to get stuff done this year, nothing makes me amped more than the beginning of Oscar season. I don’t even have to try to come up with stuff to talk about. Pretty soon NBR is gonna announce, and then everyone’s gonna start forming real opinions and not half-cocked ones based on what movie came out first and made money, and we can start talking about stuff for real. Meanwhile I’m knee deep in watching everything and gearing up for end-of-the-year article bonanza.

But now, we can look at what the indies are doing, which I never find overly helpful, but it is fun to look at. So here we go. Your Independent Spirit Award nominees for 2018:


Eight Grade

First Reformed

If Beale Street Could Talk

Leave No Trace

You Were Never Really Here

Cool choices. All really solid films. I’m not as in love with First Reformed as others are, but I get why they put it here. Hard to argue with anything on this list.

If I had to pick a favorite, it would be between Beale Street and You Were Never Really Here. Leave No Trace was fantastic, and Eighth Grade was quite solid as well. But those two, to me, are the clear best.

Curious to see what they’re gonna do here. My guess is Beale Street just because of Jenkins and it being the most likely Best Picture contender (at least at the moment, in mid-November). But given how the rest of this year is shaping up (badly), at this point I honestly don’t even know which way anyone’s gonna go. There are so many factors flying around this year that could affect the race (Netflix being a big one).

If I had to guess now, Beale Street would be my guess as a winner, and if I were voting… maybe I’d say You Were Never Really Here.


Debra Granik, Leave No Trace

Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

Tamara Jenkins, Private Life

Lynne Ramsay, You Were Never Really Here

Paul Schrader, First Reformed

Who’d they leave off? Bo Burnham. Oh, that makes sense. Because they’ll nominate him for Screenplay instead. Tamara Jenkins getting in, which is our first Netflix nomination, and also makes sense, since she’s an indie darling and this is her first movie since The Savages, which I don’t even have to look to know was nominated practically across the board in ’07.

I don’t really have a sense as to what the Indie Spirits do for the big two, since they don’t generally affect the Oscars in any major way, but I’m guessing they don’t split as often as one might think. So if Beale Street is gonna win, I’d figure Jenkins to take this too. Lynne Ramsey theoretically has a shot here as well, just on style points. Though I guess if they were to love one of the others they could go there, but my read is Jenkins 1, maybe Ramsey at 2. But again, mid-November.


Glenn Close, The Wife

Toni Collette, Hereditary

Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade

Regina Hall, Support the Girls

Helena Howard, Madeline’s Madeline

Carey Mulligan, Wildlife

A lot to talk about here. The first one being — does anyone even know what Support the Girls is? I feel like I may be the only person looking at the nominations who even saw that movie. It came out Labor Day weekend and the only reason I even saw it/looked into what it even was is because I had days off and nothing else to watch. Very odd inclusion, especially since the movie was like if you took Waiting and made it more generic. But sure.

Elsie Fisher was always guaranteed a nomination here. She’ll never win, but that was always gonna happen. Toni Collette too. Those two I could have told you in July would be here. Neither feels like they’ll win. Collette has a chance, though.

They’re pushing hard for Glenn Close to get this nomination, a lot like they did with Albert Nobbs (because of course everyone remembers that film and performance). The movie was okay. She’s fine. If she gets nominated it’ll be because there isn’t much else in the way of a category. It’s early, and I’m not trying to diagnose anything without having seen it all, but I could see it happening, even though my gut says, “SAG nomination, no Oscar nomination.” But we’ll see. BAFTA will be big, if she gets it. All of that was my long way of saying, if she’s nominated for the Oscar, she’ll win this. That’s how they roll. Though if she is nominated and then loses here, that speaks volumes as to her chances (though when is she nominated lead and not the fourth or fifth most likely to win?).

Carey Mulligan — Wildlife sputtered and never really went anywhere. They’re pushing for her to get nominated, but I don’t think it’s gonna go anywhere. The movie’s just okay, and I don’t think they wrote her well enough for her to get any real traction with the performance. I could be wrong, but I didn’t see anything overly special in the film, and I’m someone who really likes Carey Mulligan.

And last but not least — Helena Howard should win this category. I didn’t love Madeline’s Madeline, but her performance is incredible, especially for someone who hadn’t acted before. That’s one of the most gripping performances I saw this year. I know they’ll never vote for her (because no one will really have seen the movie), but she should win this category so easily.

Also, looking at this — I feel like we’re gonna get a very bland Oscar category where the winner is all about the fact that they’ve never won/they wanna give them one and it won’t be about the performance. But how is that different from a lot of Best Actress categories?

Then, for guessing — best guess is that Close wins, and if not her, Toni Collette. Mulligan maybe if she gets nominations, but right now I’m thinking one of the two I said up top.


John Cho, Searching

Daveed Diggs, Blindspotting

Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

Christian Malheiros, Sócrates

Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here

Joaquin, yes, Daveed, yes. Cho, sure. Hawke, whatever, but again I don’t like that film as much as other people seem to. He’s done enough this year to warrant a nomination and I totally support it. No idea what Socrates is, but there’s always one indie like that each year. Interesting that it has only played one festival and hasn’t gotten a release, yet somehow got enough people to see it for a nomination. Wonder how that one worked…

As much as I love Joaquin, not sure I’d vote for him here. Hawke seems like he’ll win. But I was tremendously impressed by Daveed Diggs, so I’d throw my non-existent vote his way.

Mostly I’m struck by how little all these categories so far seem to factor into what I’m thinking the major Oscar players are gonna be. But I also haven’t really put that jigsaw puzzle together yet and are mostly just looking at all the pieces strewn across the table. Of course I could be very wrong. That happens a lot. But I also don’t put a lot of stock in these awards as Oscar predictors. So we’ll see.


Raúl Castillo, We the Animals

Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Josh Hamilton, Eighth Grade

John David Washington, Monsters and Men

Solid category. I’m assuming the John David Washington nomination is because they didn’t have room for him on lead for BlacKkKlansman. Kinda takes the luster off the show when you see them arranging nominations lists like wedding reception tables. Josh Hamilton I’m guessing a) is not the baseball player, and b) played the dad. In which case, cool. Raul Castillo was good. Haven’t seen Grant yet, but I support him being there on principle alone.

Gotta figure either Driver or Washington takes this, right? I’m not thinking any of these make a legitimate case for an Oscar nomination. I can’t really put a vote down without having seen Grant (or Washington, now that I think about it), but my gut says I won’t be overly wowed by anyone in the category and will just take Driver to support BlacKkKlansman.


Kayli Carter, Private Life

Tyne Daly, A Bread Factory

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Leave No Trace

J. Smith-Cameron, Nancy

Regina King is gonna win this. No need to even pretend.

McKenzie is really good in her film, Carter is very good in her film. No idea what A Bread Factory even is, and I’m assuming Smith-Cameron was the wife in Nancy. And she was fine.

So yeah. I liked King’s performance but didn’t love it. Still think she’s an easy winner here. If I voted, I might go McKenzie. King feels like the most important performance but I’m not sure she had enough to really do to get me to want to vote for it outside of anything other than “that’s what I’m supposed to do.”



Can You Ever Forgive Me?

First Reformed

Private Life

Sorry to Bother You

Oh wow. No Eighth Grade? Oh, right, there’s a first screenplay category, isn’t there. This voting seems really coincidental…

I need to see Can You Ever Forgive Me to know which way I’d vote in this, but, absence of that, it’s either Sorry to Bother You or Private Life. Which are two wildly different options. I feel like I gotta give it to Boots, because it’s just so original.

No idea what wins this. Can You Ever Forgive Me? feels like the most likely Oscar contender, so common sense says that, but I feel like they give this to Boots. Or maybe that’s wildly off-base. It’s not Colette, I can say that. First Reformed is 50/50, but guess is no. So it’s one of the other three. Maybe Tamara wins this. No idea.



Sorry to Bother You

The Tale

We the Animals


All solid choices. Sorry to Bother You should win, but Hereditary makes a lot of sense for them. We the Animals is cool too. That feels like it could win. Wildlife — ehh. The Tale, maybe, but I always think that material as heavy as that never gets votes because people would rather not have to think about it again. Let’s say one of the first two wins.



Eighth Grade


The Tale


Wow, Blame. She’s like 22, the writer. Good for them. That’s what they should be promoting. Young people making movies.

The Tale is pretty rough. I could see it winning, but I don’t know. Nancy, probably not. Thoroughbreds, doubtful. Eighth Grade seems like an easy winner here. And that would also be my vote, with Thoroughbreds a fairly distant second.


Madeline’s Madeline



We the Animals


Solid choices. Wasn’t in love with the look of Wildlife, but the rest of them are no-brainers. Madeline’s and We the Animals are sneaky strong, even though Mandy and Suspiria are the two big fish in the category. I feel like I might go with Mandy there, just because it’s so far removed from reality. Though I need to see Suspiria again to see where I stand on the cinematography as a whole. Some of the choices felt either odd or arbitrary in the moment, but that could just have been them taking my focus away from some of the stuff I was witnessing.

What wins? No clue. Probably one of the big two. Though female DP on Madeline’s. That’s cool.


American Animals


The Tale

We the Animals

You Were Never Really Here

Good choices. I loved the editing on You Were Never Really Here, even though Mid90s had a lot of cool stuff going on in it. American Animals is the trendy choice that won’t win. The others are fine.


Hale County This Morning, This Evening

Minding the Gap

Of Fathers and Sons

On Her Shoulders


Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Gee, I wonder what will win here.





Debra Granik

Tamara Jenkins

Karyn Kusama

Female director award. They’ve all been renowned for other things. I assume they’ll give it to Kusama, though Tamara seems like she makes the most sense here all around.


Burning (South Korea)

The Favourite (United Kingdom)

Happy as Lazzaro (Italy)

Roma (Mexico)

Shoplifters (Japan)

What, you mean they picked films that people actually know, unlike the actual Oscar shortlist?

I’ve only seen The Favourite here, so I will refrain from comment.


A Bread Factory

En El Séptimo Día

Never Goin’ Back


Thunder Road

This is Never Goin Back’s only nomination, and I support it fully.

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