Nominations for Film Independent’s Spirit Awards were announced earlier today. As usual the Spirits were among the first groups to jump into the awards season fray, but also, other than the Oscars, the last to name winners (the ceremony is Saturday March 1, day before the Academy Awards). That means there can be a big momentum shift between now and then when the envelopes are opened. But it does give a boost to certain films that qualify as “indies” under their rules (generally a budget under or around $20 million) as they build toward Oscar nominations. Although the Spirits preclude many Oscar frontrunners such as Gravity, Captain Phillips, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, Philomena, August: Osage County, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Prisoners and Lee Daniels’ The Butler to name a few they can provide some comfort for those crossover films whose smaller budgets make them eligible for both including newly-minted Best Film nominees All Is Lost, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska and 12 Years A Slave which led all comers with 7 nods. Nebraska was a strong runner-up with 6 and would have tied, but inexplicably Phedon Papamichael’s exquisite black and white scope cinematography was somehow overlooked for the likes of Spring Breakers and Computer Chess. What’s up with that, indie people?
Nevertheless Oscar’s Best Picture list could include several of the Spirit choices and the same goes for the lead acting categories where Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oscar Isaac, Robert Redford, Matthew McConaughey (a winner last year at the Spirits) and Michael B. Jordan all have reasonable chances to make the corresponding Oscar lineup as well as Blue Jasmine’s Cate Blanchett who likely will have a very good early March weekend at both the Spirits and the Oscars for lead actress.