In the immediate wake of the announcement of the Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations, the first headscratcher (which a colleague pointed out before I noticed it myself) was “why no Best Director nomination for Manchester By The Sea‘s Kenneth Lonergan?” Manchester is the Big Kahuna of nominees across the board (Best Feature, Screenplay, Editing, Actor, Supporting Actor) with Moonlight the runner-up, so Lonergan’s direction not being singled out seems strange.
The second surprise is the absence of Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali among Best Supporting Actor contenders. Ali has been the overwhelming Best Supporting Actor pick among the Gurus of Gold and Gold Derby-ites for many weeks now, and keep in mind that the Spirits are totally in the tank for Moonlight this year. (Altman Award actor recipients can’t be nominated, but directors or writers can?) This doesn’t mean Ali won’t snag an Oscar nomination, but an element of doubt has obviously been introduced. Incidentally: A few weeks ago a colleague told me he thinks Hell or High Water‘s Jeff Bridges might have the best shot at a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Except the Spirits have now selected Bridges’ costar, Ben Foster, as their nominee in this category.
Here are my spitball projections of likely winners:
BEST FEATURE: American Honey, Chronic, Jackie, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight. Likely winner: Manchester By The Sea, especially with Moonlight‘s director-writer Barry Jenkins and the Moonlight cast already tagged as recipients of the Robert Altman award.
BEST FIRST FEATURE: The Childhood of a Leader, The Fits, Other People, Swiss Army Man, The Witch. Likely winner: The Witch because its’ easily the best of the five, although I could see Swiss Army Man sneaking out a win.
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD: Free In Deed, Hunter Gatherer, Lovesong, Nakom, Spa Night. Likely Winner: Hunter Gatherer.
BEST DIRECTOR: Andrea Arnold (American Honey), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Pablo Larraín (Jackie), Jeff Nichols (Loving), Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women). Likely Winner: Andrea Arnold or Barry Jenkins, but probably Jenkins at the end of the day. HE preference: Arnold.
BEST SCREENPLAY: Barry Jenkins (story by Tarell Alvin McCraney) — Moonlight; Kenneth Lonergan — Manchester by the Sea; Mike Mills — 20th Century Women; Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias — Little Men; Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY: Robert Eggers, The Witch; Chris Kelly, Other People; Adam Mansbach, Barry; Stella Meghie, Jean of the Joneses; Craig Shilowich, Christine. Likely Winner: Give it to Mansbach! Barry was/is really good, really well-woven.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Ava Berkofsky, Free In Deed; Lol Crawley, The Childhood of a Leader; Zach Kuperstein; The Eyes of My Mother; James Laxton, Moonlight; Robbie Ryan, American Honey. Likely Winner: Moonlight, although I really loved the 1.37 aspect ratio lensing of American Honey.
BEST EDITING: Matthew Hannam, Swiss Army Man; Jennifer Lame, Manchester by the Sea; Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders, Moonlight; Jake Roberts, Hell or High Water; Sebastián Sepúlveda, Jackie. Likely Winner: Manchester‘s Jennifer Lame for the exquisite cutting of the third act Casey-and-Michelle scene alone.
BEST FEMALE LEAD: Annette Bening, 20th Century Women; Isabelle Huppert, Elle; Sasha Lane, American Honey; Ruth Negga, Loving; Natalie Portman, Jackie. Likely Winner: Portman but I could see Huppert stealing it.
BEST MALE LEAD: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea; David Harewood, Free In Deed; Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic; Jesse Plemons, Other People; Tim Roth, Chronic. guaranteed Winner: Affleck.
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE: Edwina Findley, Free In Deed; Paulina Garcia, Little Men; Lily Gladstone, Certain Women; Riley Keough, American Honey; Molly Shannon, Other People. Likely Winner: The only nominee who’s generated any buzz is Shannon. She was pretty good as a cancer-afflicted mom so she’s probably got it.
BEST SUPPORTING MALE: Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash; Ben Foster, Hell or High Water; Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea; Shia LaBeouf, American Honey; Craig Robinson, Morris from America. Almost Certain Winner: Hedges.
BEST DOCUMENTARY: 13th, Cameraperson, I Am Not Your Negro, O.J.: Made in America, Sonita, Under the Sun. Likely Winner: O.J.: Made in America.
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM: Aquarius, Chevalier, My Golden Days, Toni Erdmann, Under the Shadow. Likely Winner: Toni Erdmann, I’m guessing, but why didn’t they nominate Asghar Farhadi‘s The Salesman or Cristian Mungiu‘s Graduation?