8:17 am on a sunny and warm Saturday morning, and four hours hence…the Spirit Awards! Yesterday a headline on a Gregg Goldstein Variety story proclaimed that the Spirits “offer a bold, inclusive alternative to the Oscars.” Nomination-wise, that’s true — more diverse, darker, tanner, gayer, cooler, irreverent.
And yet the major-category winners always seem to push back or comment upon the Oscar tip sheet. Plus the Spirit guys always seem to favor the big-marquee, name-value nominees who are also up for Oscars, or who have been snubbed by same. Bottom line: the Spirits are always looking to reach out to, include or at least not alienate those who are watching on the IFC Channel. And that means blanding it down or…you know, avoiding anything too curious or strange.
Example: Spotlight is favored to take the Best Feature award not just because the cast has already been chosen as the recipient of a Robert Altman Best Ensemble award (aping an identical award handed out by the Gothams) but also because of a general feeling that the Spirits need to counter-balance a notion that the Best Picture Oscar is The Revenant‘s to lose.
Another way to push back against the Oscars would be to give the Best Feature award to Cary Fukunaga‘s Beasts of No Nation, which the Academy membership brushed aside over the Netflix thing or, as Lawrence O’Donnell said the other day, probably due to racial bias, or to hand Fukunaga the Best Director award. Or give the Best Male Lead to award to Abraham Attah. But the Feature/Director scenarios aren’t as likely with the Spotlight competition. Marquee value.
Here are the nominees along with my predictions:
Best Feature: Anomalisa, Beasts of No Nation, Carol, Spotlight, Tangerine. HE prediction: Spotlight.
Best Director: Sean Baker, Tangerine; Cary Joji Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation; Todd Haynes, Carol; Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, Anomalisa; Tom McCarthy, Spotlight; David Robert Mitchell, It Follows. HE prediction: McCarthy or Funkunaga — honest toss-up.
Best Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman, Anomalisa; Donald Margulies, The End of the Tour; Phyllis Nagy, Carol; Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, Spotlight; S. Craig Zahler, Bone Tomahawk. HE prediction: McCarthy/Singer but Nagy could win as a sympathy or compassion gesture for Carol, which failed to land a Best Picture Oscar nom.
Best First Feature: The Diary of a Teenage Girl, James White, Manos Sucias, Mediterranea, Songs My Brothers Taught Me. HE prediction: Diary of a Teenage Girl.
Best First Screenplay: Jesse Andrews, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl; Jonas Carpignano, Mediterranea; Emma Donoghue, Room; Marielle Heller, The Diary of a Teenage Girl; John Magary, Russell Harbaugh, Myna Joseph, The Mend. HE prediction: Jesse Andrews, Me and Earl, etc.
Best Male Lead: Christopher Abbott, James White; Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation; the dreaded Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind; Jason Segel, The End of the Tour; Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea. HE prediction: Jason Segel for his “hulking behemoth” interpretation of David Foster Wallace?
Best Female Lead: Cate Blanchett, Carol; Brie Larson, Room; Rooney Mara, Carol; Bel Powley, The Diary of A Teenage Girl; Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Tangerine. HE prediction: Rooney Mara as a pushback against the strategic Weinstein Co. notion that she gave a Best Supporting Actress-level performance, which was in defiance of last May’s Cannes Film Festival award for Best Actress.
Best Supporting Male: Kevin Corrigan, Results; Paul Dano, Love & Mercy; Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation; Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk; Michael Shannon, 99 Homes. HE prediction: HE’s own Paul Dano!
Best Supporting Female: Robin Bartlett, H.; Marin Ireland, Glass Chin; Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anomalisa; Cynthia Nixon, James White; Mya Taylor, Tangerine. HE prediction: Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Best Documentary: (T)error; Best of Enemies; Heart of a Dog; The Look of Silence; Meru; The Russian Woodpecker. HE prediction: Meru.
Best International Film: A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, Embrace of the Serpent, Girlhood, Mustang, Son of Saul. HE prediction: Son of Saul.
Best Cinematography: Beasts of No Nation, Carol, It Follows, Meadowland, Songs My Brothers Taught Me. HE prediction: Ed Lachman for Carol?
Best Editing: Heaven Knows What, It Follows, Manos Sucias, Room, Spotlight. HE prediction: Spotlight.
John Cassavetes Award (Best Feature Under $500,000): Advantageous, Christmas, Again, Heaven Knows What, Krisha, Out of My Hand. HE prediction: Krisha?
Robert Altman Award (Best Ensemble): Spotlight.
Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award: Chloe Zhao, Felix Thompson, Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck.
Piaget Producers Award: Darren Dean, Mel Eslyn, Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith.
Incidentally: Invitees have been told there’s no onsite parking, and that everyone needs to park offsite and take a shuttle to the Awards Show. Hollywood Elsewhere doesn’t do shuttles. I’ll be on the bike and rolling down to the area adjacent to the big tent and paying for parking.
Also: The Spirits aren’t providing wireless internet access so it’s pure Twitter from here on until I return late this afternoon.