Oscars 2019: Independent Spirit Award Nominations

They also announced these last week. These are closer to being slightly meaningful for the Oscars, but the fact that I waited this long to talk about them should tell you how little they truly matter. Mostly it’s just indie people promoting indies, and usually the indies that are the real Oscar contenders end up shining. But mainly it’s just an excuse for everyone to get drunk in a giant tent in Santa Monica the day before the Oscars. Which I approve of wholeheartedly.

I honestly blindly copy-pasted these categories the day they were announced and didn’t even look at them until now, so, as usual, this is just gonna be my gut reaction based on seeing everything as we go through the article. I suspect nothing here will be particularly surprising or helpful, but mostly I’ll go, “Oh, good for them,” because stuff I know will never get any Oscar attention will get some love here, which at least gives it something.

Anyway, here are your 2019 Indie Spirit Award nominees:

Best Feature


The Farewell

A Hidden Life

Marriage Story

Uncut Gems

Wow. Kind of a boring list. Because you know they’re not going near Hidden Life for the win, Clemency doesn’t seem like is has a chance unless somehow that movie ends up getting major Oscar support (which feels unlikely since the majority of people don’t even know it exists yet, if they end up knowing at all). Uncut Gems feels very unlikely, just because I doubt the Oscars take any notice of it. So it’s Marriage Story or The Farewell, and I assume Farewell has the lead there unless Marriage Story makes a big Oscar play. Though Beale Street won last year and didn’t make it on. But I guess The Farewell could still do the same.

Feels like they did some rules tweaking to make sure true independent films get on rather than the big Oscar movies that were technically independent but have major studio backing. But honestly, my gut says The Farewell wins this.


Best First Feature


The Climb


The Last Black Man in San Francisco

The Mustang

See You Yesterday

I mean, Booksmart is gonna win. Because they want Olivia Wilde giving a speech. And also because most people haven’t even heard of at least three of the nominees. I have no clue what The Climb or Diane are and I follow all this shit. Last Black Man in San Francisco was quite good and feels like an alternate winner. See You Yesterday was awesome and I’m glad it’s there. In another universe that could win. And Mustang was fine. That’ll never win this. It’s Booksmart vs. the field here.


Best Director

Robert Eggers, The Lighthouse

Alma Har’el, Honey Boy

Julius Onah, Luce

Benny & Josh Safdie, Uncut Gems

Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers

Solid category. Wasn’t a huge Luce fan, but the rest seem like good choices (Uncut Gems is the only one I need to see). Hustlers was fine. I wouldn’t personally go there myself. In terms of pure direction, Eggars or Har’el should win. Probably Eggars, just because I like how tightly he made those visuals and how disciplined the whole thing feels. But Har’el is also a good choice. That movie has so much more energy than I expected it to. Uncut Gems, of course, is the wild card here. But I expect, if Good Time couldn’t win, that probably won’t. Knowing them, they’ll give it to Scafaria, though Eggars, I feel, probably should win it.


Best Female Lead

Karen Allen, Colewell

Hong Chau, Driveways

Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell

Mary Kay Place, Diane

Alfre Woodard, Clemency

Renée Zellweger, Judy

Six nominees. Okay. Seeing Mary Kay Place makes me realize I’m vaguely aware of what Diane is. Literally less than zero clue about Colewell though. I like that they do throw on movies like that because otherwise absolutely no one would know they exist. Though it does make me feel like it’s kind of rigged, because honestly, who the hell knows what that movie is? No idea what Driveways is either but I like Hong Chau, so that’s cool. Moss was fine, but that would be a stretch for them. It’s either Woodard or Zellweger. Depending on how Best Actress goes… honestly, even without it, I feel like they’re gonna go Woodard. Zellweger seems like the obvious choice, but I feel like everyone loves Alfre Woodard and she’s gonna get votes. I also don’t really care how it turns out, though I am kinda hoping that Zellweger doesn’t get nominated at the Oscars. Because that was a boring choice and kind of a ‘meh’-ly okay performance.


Best Male Lead

Chris Galust, Give Me Liberty

Kelvin Harrison Jr., Luce

Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse

Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

Matthias Schoenaerts, The Mustang

Wait, they nominated Kelvin Harrison for Luce and not for his incredible performance in Waves? What the fuck? That’s a joke. Even if you consider him half-supporting, that’s still a joke. He better be in Supporting  too, otherwise that’s a crock of shit. No idea what Give Me Liberty is. Sandler looks good in Uncut Gems. Schoenaerts is good in The Mustang, so that’s cool. Pattinson should win, though Sandler seems like he’s got a shot too. But the Harrison snub for Waves… that’s so dumb.


Best Supporting Female

Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers

Taylor Russell, Waves

Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell

Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, Give Me Liberty

Octavia Spencer, Luce

Shocker. J. Lo made it on. Watch them give her the win too. Taylor Russell is great in Waves, and that only makes it worse, knowing they actually saw it and deliberately didn’t put Harrison on for it. Zhao Shuzhen should be nominated at the Oscars for The Farewell, so I am so on board with that. Honestly, she could win, and I’m kinda hoping she does. Still no clue what Give Me Liberty is, and I’m already on the record not liking Luce. But also, any Octavia Spencer nomination is a nomination for her and not the performance, so whatever. My vote is for Shuzhen and I kinda think she has a shot. Unless they all decide to go for J. Lo, which would be boring and obvious and deliberately a popularity vote and not at all about performance.


Best Supporting Male

Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse

Noah Jupe, Honey Boy

Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy

Jonathan Majors, The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Wendell Pierce, Burning Cane

They put Dafoe here? Sure. Kind of had to in order to get both nominated, even though they could have easily both went lead and been nominated. Jupe and LaBeouf? Okay. One of those two is the lead in that movie. I don’t care which you wanna pick, but one of them is. Because it sure as shit isn’t Lucas Hedges. Majors is good in Last Black Man. No idea what Burning Cane is, but I like Wendell Pierce, so sure. Dafoe gives my favorite performance, but LaBeouf winning this would be a nice moment and lead to a nice speech. So I’m kinda rooting for that, and I think he has a decent shot at winning. Best category I’ve seen so far, though. That’s for sure.


Best Screenplay


High Flying Bird

Marriage Story

To Dust

Uncut Gems

Love seeing To Dust on here. High Flying Bird… sure. It’s Tarell Alvin McCraney, so that makes sense. Clemency, sure. Marriage Story is obvious. Uncut Gems is obvious. Okay, sure. Very happy To Dust is here though. I don’t even care what wins now, though I’m assuming it’s Baumbach, sight unseen.


Best First Screenplay

Blow the Man Down


Greener Grass

See You Yesterday

The Vast of Night

Rooting for See You Yesterday. Don’t know what three of the other four are. Greener Grass is weird as shit and there’s no way they vote for that. Strongly rooting for See You Yesterday.


Best Editing

Give Me Liberty

The Lighthouse

Sword of Trust

The Third Wife

Uncut Gems

I mean, it’s Lighthouse or Uncut Gems. Most people don’t even know what the others are. I also can’t say I particularly noticed the editing in Sword of Trust, but okay, if that’s what you wanna do. That one’s a choice between flashy cutting (I’m assuming, based on Good Time) and deliberate editing. We’ll see what they do.


Best Cinematography

Honey Boy


The Lighthouse


The Third Wife

Of course Midsommar. I like that it hasn’t gotten on before now. People seem to have caught on to the Ari Aster thing. Though admittedly that movie does look very good. I actually like the early apartment stuff as much as I do the weird Swedish shit. Lighthouse should win though. Honey Boy is a great choice too. Hustlers is whatever. And I have zero idea what The Third Wife is. I assume this is Lighthouse all the way. Flashy black and white usually fares well in a category like this.

Oh wait… did just notice that The Farewell didn’t get either a Director or Screenplay? Oh boy, that can’t be good. Maybe it won’t win Picture. Maybe they will go boring. Not even Screenplay… wow.


Best International Film

Invisible Life (Brazil)

Les Miserables (France)

Parasite (South Korea)

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France)

Retablo (Peru)

The Souvenir (UK)

UK counts as foreign? That… seems shady. Parasite should win this hands down. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is supposed to be good. Les Miserables looks interesting as hell. I saw a trailer in front of something else and it looked good. I haven’t looked at the foreign stuff yet (that’s tomorrow), so I’m unfamiliar currently with the others. But this is a one-film category. No one should be surprised.


Best Documentary

American Factory

Apollo 11

For Sama


Island of the Hungry Ghosts

Apollo 11 is the best film on this list, even if it’s the only one I’ve seen. American Factory makes sense. I’m sure I’ll watch that soon. For Sama, no idea. Honeyland I’m guessing has to do with bees and I kinda hope is about the making of The Wicker Man. And I’m assuming that last one has nothing to do with actual ghosts eating things, so I’ll take a pass and just root for Apollo 11.


Robert Altman Award

Marriage Story



John Cassavetes Award

Burning Cane


Give Me Liberty


Wild Nights with Emily

Big award, at least in name. Literally have never heard of any of these, so good for all of them and for whichever wins this.


The Bonnie Award

Marielle Heller

Kelly Reichardt

Lulu Wang

I’m assuming this is some female filmmaker award. Does Kelly Reichardt even have a film this year or is it just because they could? No Lorene Scafaria? Weird choices, but cool for all of them.

– – – – –

So yeah. Indie Spirit Awards. Meaningless to the Oscars, especially now that they seem determined to keep it strictly indie, which is both a good choice for what they are and also relegates them to just something that happens and whose sole purpose is to celebrate indie filmmaking and get people shitfaced in a tent on the day before the Oscars.

– – – – – – – – – –


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