Spirit Awards Noms Suggest Indie Community Is Uniting Behind ‘Carol’ (Analysis)

25 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Carol’ Leads Independent Spirit Award Nominations.

Stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara were both nominated for best lead actress as their drama “Carol” led all films with six nominations for the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards. “Carol” helmer Todd Haynes was nominated for best director for the film about a 1950s lesbian romance.

“Spotlight,” about The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into sex abuse by Catholic priests, received four nominations and the Robert Altman Award. Other best picture contenders are Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s animated “Anomalisa” and Sean Baker’s “Tangerine,” about transgender prostitutes in Los Angeles. All three films will compete in the categories of best feature and best director, along with Charlie Kaufman’s stop-motion feature Anomalisa and Sean Baker’s iPhone-shot Tangerine, which each scored three more nominations.

Their definition of “independent” has always been flexible and, in recent years, the winners have included such unlikely films such as Birdman, 12 Years a Slave and Black Swan (none exactly tiny). But two films landed in the best feature category that will be looking to turn the corner on bigger things for Oscar: “Anomalisa” and “Beasts of No Nation.” The former was acquired by Paramount after bowing at the Telluride Film Festival, and the studio would really love for it to be perceived as more than just an animated contender. Both Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor were nominated, which reminds me: Who says there aren’t any women of color in the awards race this season? Producers: Jason Michael Berman, Chris Columbus, Jon Coplon, Christoph Daniel, Andrew Kortschak, John Lesher, Ryan Lough, Justin Nappi, Alain Peyrollaz, Gwyn Sannia, Marc Schmidheiny, Victor Shapiro, Ryan Zacaria Ensemble Cast: Billy Crudup, Paul Guilfoyle, Neal Huff, Brian d’Arcy James, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Jamey Sheridan, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci (Recognizing a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. They’ll compete against Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’s Jesse Andrews and The Mend, scripted by John Magary from a story by Russell Harbaugh and Myna Joseph.

Both have been the focus of the first Oscar campaign for transgender actresses in history, and while the road might end with indie tips of the hat such as this, they shouldn’t be marginalized as exceptions to a rule. Meanwhile, the John Cassavetes Award for best feature made for under $500,000 will see Benny and Josh Safdie’s Heaven Knows What face off against Advantageous; Christmas, Again; Krisha; and Out of My Hand.

But Elizabeth Banks remains a strong force in her category despite deferring to a field of women today that isn’t likely to translate for Academy voters. (That said, the inclusion of Jennifer Jason Leigh’s voice work for “Anomalisa” is a brilliant note; she might be better there than as a gnarly, fowl-mouthed outlaw in Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.”) Another boost came for “99 Homes” star Michael Shannon. Broad Green Pictures has been trying to rev the engines on that push for a while now, but again, the best supporting actor category is positively thick with possibilities.

Nominees for best male lead include Christopher Abbott (James White), Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation), Ben Mendelsohn (Mississippi Grind), Jason Segel (The End of the Tour) and Koudous Seihorn (Mediterranea). We don’t think Brooklyn — with no significant US investment — was eligible, but Room, despite being an Irish-Canadian co-production, clearly was up for awards. In the event, Lenny Abrahamson’s film missed out on best picture, but registered in the races for best female lead (Brie Larson), best editing (Nathan Nugent) and best first screenplay (Emma Donoghue). But in a year so odd, so all over the map, so dependent on various little bases of support with not much blanket approval for this or that contender to go around, it’s been in need of a cumulative effect. Brooklyn also failed to make the International feature award, losing out to Mustang, Girlhood, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting On Existence, Son of Saul and Embrace of the Serpent.

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