The Film Independent Spirit Awards are about celebrating the finest lower-budgeted features ($20 million and under) in a given year. That has allowed for a whole lotta Oscar overlap over the last couple of decades as mainstream distributors (i.e., the folks who make and distribute expensive films for families with no taste and popcorn-inhaling knuckle-draggers) are 95% out of the Oscar-aspiring game, and so the Academy has focused almost entirely on Spirit-brand features.

Every so often a lower-budgeted Oscar nominee will have cost $25 million or thereabouts (i.e., Green Book) and is therefore ineligible for a Spirit Award, but generally the Oscars are the Spirits and vice versa.

There’s always more of a p.c. emphasis among the Spirit winners (diversity, representation, virtue-signalling) but over the last two or three years Academy and guild members have totally subscribed to the comintern mindset. Thus: “When talent and merit are replaced by representation, then we’re living in a world that doesn’t care about movies anymore.” — Brett Easton Ellis in a 2.19.19 guest column for The Hollywood Reporter.

This year, however, the Best Picture Oscar overlap is nil. The five Best Feature nominees at the 2019 Spirit Awards — Eighth Grade, First Reformed, If Beale Street Could Talk, Leave No Trace and You Were Never Really Here — are not nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. And only one of the Spirit nominees (the swoony, lovey-dovey, zero-story-tension, Wong Kar Wai-ish Beale Street) has arguably been nominated for p.c. reasons.

Here’s the HE rundown of some of the Spirit Swards — my picks for who or what should win vs. what will win.

Best Feature: Bo Burnham‘s Eighth Grade probably will win; Paul Schrader‘s First Reformed definitely should win. If Beale Street wins, you’ll know that the p.c. commissar mentality is really running the show this year.

Best Director: First Reformed‘s Paul Schrader has posted some edgy, non-p.c. observations on Twitter and Facebook from time to time, and so he has to be disciplined by the comintern with a no-win in this category. If you ask me You Were Never Really Here‘s Lynn Ramsay is the second most deserving nominee (after Schrader). Alas, the winner will probably be Debra Granik, director of Leave No Trace — a movie that was made solely for the Sundance/Spirit realm, a film that exists in its own little world.

Best Male Lead: Ethan Hawke of First Reformed should win and will win. I’m presuming that the Spirit committee that nominated Blindspotting‘s Daveed Diggs for this award was, on some level, kidding. That or they threw his name into the hat as a p.c. gimmee, knowing full well he couldn’t possibly win.

Best Female Lead: The Wife‘s Glenn Close will definitely win, and so she should.

Best Supporting Male: Absolutely, definitely Richard Grant for Can You Ever Forgive Me?. Don’t even think about the competition.

Best Supporting Female: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk.

Best Screenplay: A very difficult tie between Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty for Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Paul Schrader‘s First Reformed. I don’t know who will win — I think they all should.

Best First Feature: Ari Aster‘s Hereditary probably will triumph, although it’s possible that Paul Dano‘s Wildlife will squeak out a win.

I can’t be bothered to spitball every last nominee. Here’s the whole list — do what you will.