2020 Independent Spirit Award Nominations

Awards season is kicking off with the beloved Spirit Nominations. I love independent films and my favorite thing about these is getting more recommendations. But I have to say....this year's nominations are weird. NO Jojo Rabbit, barely any Marriage Story and way too much Lighthouse and Hustlers for me personally. Plus a few big snubs, but hey, there's nothing wrong with being unpredictable. Here are the nominees + my thoughts. 

Alma Har’el, Honey Boy
Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers
Julius Onah, Luce
Robert Eggers, The Lighthouse
Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie, Uncut Gems
Honey Boy and Uncut Gems are the only two I haven't. Out of the ones I did see, Luce was my favorite. Otherwise these were pretty surprising aside from Eggers and Har'el. I expected Baumbach and possibly Taika if Jojo Rabbit qualified here.

Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story
Jason Begue, Shawn Snyder, To Dust
Ronald Bronstein & Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie, Uncut Gems
Chinonye Chukwu, Clemency
Tarell Alvin McCraney, High Flying Bird
I haven't seen these. Marriage Story is one of my must sees of the year and Clemency is in my DVD queue. I see High Flying Bird is available to stream on Netflix, so I'll likely check that out soon.

Fredrica Bailey & Stefon Bristol, See You Yesterday
Hannah Bos & Paul Thureen, Driveways
Bridget Savage Cole & Danielle Krudy, Blow the Man Down
Jocelyn DeBoer & Dawn Luebbe, Greener Grass
James Montague & Craig W. Sanger, The Vast of Night
Unfortunately I haven't seen any of these. Have you? Do you have a recommendation?

Todd Banhazl, Hustlers
Jarin Blaschke, The Lighthouse
Natasha Braier, Honey Boy
Chananun Chotrungroj, The Third Wife
Pawel Pogorzelski, Midsommar
I'm happy to see Midsommar here. Lighthouse was a given. Hustlers is a surprise. I think The Last Black Man in San Francisco or Them That Follow should've been here personally.

Julie Béziau, The Third Wife
Ronald Bronstein & Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems
Tyler L. Cook, Sword of Trust
Louise Ford, The Lighthouse
Kirill Mikhanovsky, Give Me Liberty

Karen Allen, Colewell
Hong Chau, Driveways
Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell
Mary Kay Place, Diane
Alfre Woodard, Clemency
Renée Zellweger, Judy 
This is disappointing as I really wanted Florence Pugh to be here for Midsommar and Awkwafina for The Farewell. Elizabeth Moss getting in is a bit of a surprise as Her Smell came out so early in the year. 

Chris Galust, Give Me Liberty
Kelvin Harrison Jr., Luce
Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse
Matthias Schoenaerts, The Mustang
Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems
Adam Driver apparently wasn't eliglble because Marriage Story got the Cast Award so that's a huge lose for this category. Kelvin Harrison Jr. getting in for Luce is wonderful though. I wish Roman Griffin Davis were here for Jojo Rabbit.

Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
Taylor Russell, Waves
Lauren “LoLo” Spencer, Give Me Liberty
Octavia Spencer, Luce
Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell
I guess JLo really is going after that Oscar. I'm happy for Shuzhen and Spencer. The other films I plan on seeing as soon as I get the chance.

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 
FINALLY LBMISF gets some love. Burning Cane is on Netflix so I'll give that a watch. DaFoe was great in The Lighthouse and I'm looking forward to Honey Boy.

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast
Marriage Story
Director: Noah Baumbach
Casting Directors: Douglas Aibel, Francine Maisler
Ensemble Cast: Alan Alda, Laura Dern, Adam Driver, Julie Hagerty, Scarlett Johansson, Ray Liotta, Azhy Robertson, Merritt Wever

American Factory
Apollo 11
For Sama
Island of the Hungry Ghosts

Invisible Life - Brazil
Les Misérables - France
Parasite-South Korea
Portrait of a Lady on Fire - France
Retablo - Peru
The Souvenir - United Kingdom
I've only seen Parasite which was wonderful. I really want to see Portrait of a Lady on Fire as well.

BONNIE AWARD – Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo joined American Airlines in 1973 at age 24, becoming the first female pilot to fly for a major U.S. airline. In her honor, the third Bonnie Award will recognize a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant, sponsored by American Airlines.

Marielle Heller
Kelly Reichardt
Lulu Wang

PRODUCERS AWARD – The 23rd annual Producers Award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

Mollye Asher
Krista Parris
Ryan Zacarias

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 26th annual Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

Rashaad Ernesto Green, Director of Premature
Ash Mayfair, Director of The Third Wife
Joe Talbot, Director of The Last Black Man in San Francisco

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 25th annual Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

Khalik Allah, Director of Black Mother
Davy Rothbart, Director of 17 Blocks
Nadia Shihab , Director of Jaddoland
Erick Stoll & Chase Whiteside, Director of América


  1. I'm clearly so behind on indie movies but at least I have a list of how to catch up!
    I was going riot about the Adam Driver snub but that rule makes sense. Sucks still, though!

    1. Don't worry, I think we'll see a lot of him everywhere else. It's Driver szn.

  2. The snubbing of Adam Driver is wrong. I too was wondering about the lack of nods for Jojo Rabbit despite the fact that it is distributed by Fox Searchlight.

    1. It's dumb they can't be in acting categories if they win the cast one. I can't find Jojo Rabbit's budget. I think the Spirit Awards have a budget cap, but I thought it qualified.

  3. Glad to see some love for Uncut Gems. And Honey Boy.

    1. I'll definitely watch both of those when they come out!

  4. I agree Florence Pugh deserved a nom for Midsommar, so did Lupita Nyong'o for Us. The Souvenir leaves space to interpret the characters but hard to care about anyone in the film.
    I enjoyed 63 Up (2019) and Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story (2019), a pity those missed in documentary.

    1. YES. I think Us had too high of a budget to qualify for the Spirit Awards but Lupita better not get snubbed come Oscar time.

      I'll have to check those two out since I haven't seen them.

  5. Great work! I’m so excited to see Uncut Gems. Very surprised by the Florence Pugh and Awkwafina snubs. I’m so happy Kelvin Harrison Jr. got nominated, and I did like him in Luce, but that man is astonishing in Waves. I wish that movie had more noms here, but woo-whoo for Taylor Russell!

    1. I can't wait to see Waves. Your recent post especially has me hyped for it.


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