Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2011 Independent Spirit Award Nominees

Not content to let the National Board of Review beat them to the punch, the ISA revealed their nominees for the current awards year, and results showcase the high number of indie films likely to make a splash when the Oscar nominations are announced in January. And the nominees are...

BEST FEATURE (Award given to the Producer)
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Kids Are All Right
Winter’s Bone

To steal from Nathaniel R over at the The Film Experience, 80% of this lineup is in strong contention for a Best Picture nomination from the Academy. From what I've seen, I'm not surprised. The only film I haven't seen is Black Swan (that changes tomorrow!), and for the most part I'm not crazy about any of the nominees. They certainly have their strengths, especially 127 Hours, but Greenberg and Winter's Bone mostly left me cold. As it stands, Winter's Bone or The Kids Are All Right will likely take this one. A shame that Please Give (1 nomination + an honorary award) was left out here.

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone
John Cameron Mitchell, Rabbit Hole

The big surprise here is John Cameron Mitchell; he's the only director whose film isn't up for Best Feature. This makes me wonder how close Rabbit Hole was to edging into the Feature lineup, seeing as it's been gaining momentum ever since its premiere in Toronto. While Cholodenko or Granik would seem like obvious choices, there's always the chance the ISA will go with someone who can make independent films that are also striking visually, which would bode well for Aronofsky and Boyle.

(Given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer)
Daddy Longlegs
The Exploding Girl
Lovers of Hate

Only seen The Exploding Girl, and I really hope that writer/director Bradley Rust takes this one. A limited film, but a successful one, and featuring a wonderful lead performance (a shame Kazan was snubbed).

Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, Winter’s Bone
Nicole Holofcener, Please Give
David Lindsay-Abaire, Rabbit Hole
Todd Solondz, Life During Wartime

I love any love I see for Please Give, which I'll gladly take over Winter's Bone or The Kids Are All Right any day. A shame the ISA couldn't have thrown it at least one acting nomination (one of these days, Rebecca Hall, one of these days...). The wild card here is Life During Wartime, who would be a pretty amazing upset. Unlikely though, considering how much people seem to love Granik and Cholodenko's films.

Diane Bell, Obselidia
Lena Dunham, Tiny Furniture
Nik Fackler, Lovely, Still
Bob Glaudini, Jack Goes Boating
Dana Adam Shapiro, Evan M. Wiener, Monogamy

Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Greta Gerwig, Greenberg
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

It's pretty amazing to think that everyone on this list (save Gerwig) is in some degree of contention for Best Actress at the Oscars. Indies really have been good to women this year. This is also a big move for Kidman, who rarely, if ever, receives recognition for her (usually very odd) indie film choices. And where on earth is Julianne Moore!?

Ronald Bronstein, Daddy Longlegs
Aaron Eckhart, Rabbit Hole
James Franco, 127 Hours
John C. Reilly, Cyrus
Ben Stiller, Greenberg

Disregarding the lack of nomination for Colin Firth, this makes sense considering the critical and audience standouts from the indie set this year. Eckhart could prove a surprising threat, and Stiller could even take it simply for playing against type, but the safe and obvious bet here is Franco. After all, he's not hosting the Spirit Awards...(heheheheh)

Ashley Bell, The Last Exorcism
Dale Dickey, Winter’s Bone
Allison Janney, Life During Wartime
Daphne Rubin-Vega, Jack Goes Boating
Naomi Watts, Mother and Child

I'm not sure I ever expected The Last Exorcism to be nominated for anything, but, hey, apparently the ISA crowd liked her enough (or just needed a fifth slot filler). Watts is probably gaining the most from this, as her film didn't make much of a wave when it hit indie theaters over the summer. Apparently the studio is attempting a campaign, and this could encourage them to really push Watts along with co-star Annette Bening.

John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
Samuel L. Jackson, Mother and Child
Bill Murray, Get Low
John Ortiz, Jack Goes Boating
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

I still can't get on the John Hawkes bandwagon, but it's either him or Ruffalo who will likely walk away with the trophy. What's really puzzling here is how Bill Murray scored a nomination for sleeping through his role while co-star Robert Duvall wasn't even nominated.

Adam Kimmel, Never Let Me Go
Matthew Libatique, Black Swan
Jody Lee Lipes, Tiny Furniture
Michael McDonough, Winter’s Bone
Harris Savides, Greenberg

Here's Black Swan's easiest score of the night, with the only competition coming from Kimmel's lovely work on Never Let Me Go. I'm not sure what about Greenberg's cinematography was worthy of a nomination, but clearly the ISA liked that film a great deal more than I did.

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director)
Exit Through The Gift Shop
Thunder Soul

Exit Through the Gift Shop or Restrepo for the win here.

BEST FOREIGN FILM (Award given to the director)
Mademoiselle Chambon
Of Gods and Men
The King’s Speech
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Unlike the Oscars, the category doesn't include the word "language" in the title, hence the inclusion of The King's Speech. Apparently this must take the film out of the running for other awards, because it's strange to think that Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush would be left out here. The King's Speech's status as an Oscar front-runner could propel it to a win, but Cannes entries Uncle Boonmee (which won the Palme) and Of Gods and Men were generally well received and could provide some interesting competition.

(Given to one film’s director, casting director, and its ensemble cast)
Please Give
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Casting Director: Jeanne McCarthy
Ensemble Cast: Ann Guilbert, Rebecca Hall, Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Lois Smith, Sara Steele

It's great that this little film is receiving a special honorary award, but I would rather this go to something else and have Please Give score nominations for Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Supporting Actor instead. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers and all that jazz.

In-Ah Lee, Au Revoir Taipei
Adele Romanski, The Myth of the American Sleepover
Anish Savjani, Meek’s Cutoff

Hossein Keshavarz, Dog Sweat
Laurel Nakadate, The Wolf Knife
Mike Ott, Littlerock

Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Sweetgrass
Jeff Malmberg, Marwencol
Lynn True, Nelson Walker, Summer Pasture

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