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As always, the Spirits are an intriguing beast. Originally a fly by the seat of your pants awards show meant to give exposure to indie films they couldn't find anywhere else the Spirits have morphed into a prestigious honor that people in the industry actually care about. This year it appears the nominating committees got it mostly right. Sure, there's that always sticky $20 million or less budget figure qualification no one wants to pay attention to (until they do) and some blatant omissions here and there. But, at the end of the day the Spirits still provide an important platform for new filmmakers to make their mark with moviegoers and the larger movie industry. Taking that into account, here are the winners and losers after the announcement of the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards nominees this morning.
Winner: "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
With four nominations and two wins at the Gothams last night, Searchlight has to be relieved "Beasts" is getting the late push it needs to secure that best picture Oscar nod. A slew of expected top 10 lists next month should seal the deal.
Winner: "Silver Linings Playbook"
Is the film's budget $16 million or $21 million? Only the accountants know for sure, but the film's Spirits leading five nominations is a nice boost to an Oscar campaign that was once battling for frontrunner status.
Loser: Ezra Miller
Easily one of the more acclaimed supporting performances of the year, somehow Miller's great turn in "Perks of a Wallflower" was ignored by the nominating committee. Sam Rockwell and Bruce Willis must just have more cache. Sad.
Loser: David Ayer and Jake Gyllenhaal
Michael Pena deservedly earned his first Spirit Award nod for a fantastic performance in "End of Watch," but what about screenwriter/director David Ayer and star Jake Gyllenhaal? "Watch" was a critic's favorite and a major indie hit. It was independently produced at just $7 million and grossed almost $40 million. Moreover, you expanded the best male lead category to six nods and Gyllenhaal still didn't get in? Embarrassing.
As we predicted, the committee went gaga for "Bernie." With strong Film Independent credentials (it was the opening night of the org.'s LA Film Festival in 2011) and an indie story to treasure (rejected by all the mini majors only to become an art house hit for Millennium), "Bernie" was destined to be one of the top best feature film nominees. Jack Black's best male lead nod? Icing on the cake.
Winner: "Middle of Nowhere"
Underrated so much that's its now possibly overrated, "Nowhere" didn't make the top category of best feature film, but still managed an impressive 4 nominations including the John Cassavetes Award, best female lead, best supporting female and best supporting male. Wowzers.
Loser: The Foreign Films committee
No "Holy Motors" among the best foreign film nominees? "Once Upon A Time in Anatolia" and "War Witch" are better films? "Motors" exclusion is hands down the most embarrassing omission of the day.
Winner: CBS Films
"Seven Psychopaths" provided CBS Films with its first two Spirit Awards nominations for best supporting male (Sam Rockwell) and best screenplay (Martin McDonagh) and it's first major awards nominations of any kind. Next stop, the Globes?
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