The avalanche of advance speculation, live Twitterage and post-game analysis that surrounded yesterday's announcement of the Independent Spirit Award nominees was indicative, perhaps, of the way the internet has amped up every stop on the ever-expanding awards trail -- however minor its real-world presence -- to event status. But it also proved that the Spirits are no longer as small, nor as off-the-beaten-track, as their calculatedly modest presentation would have you believe.They haven't been for a while: for better or worse, they're now considered as valuable (if, by their very nature, not as all-encompassing) an Oscar bellwether as any of the glitzier Globe or Guild events on the circuit.
The Broadcast Film Critics' Association is hardly the first group or individual to note that this has been remarkable year for black filmmakers and black-themed films. Ever since "Lee Daniels' The Butler" emerged as a surprise box-office sleeper in the summer, followed shortly afterward by the triumphant festival debut of "12 Years a Slave" -- both films consolidating the Sundance success of Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station" in January -- the shorthand narrative of 2013 as "the year of black cinema" has been cemented in the media, and inevitably bled into the awards race.
There's been a lot of speculation about the possibility of Scarlett Johansson scoring an acting Oscar nod for her acclaimed voice work in "Her." It'd be a first, but the buzz is growing in volume. Still, if she pulls it off, it'll be without any help from the Golden Globes -- the HFPA has ruled her ineligible in their Best Supporting Actress category. It's not exactly surprising, given that they've previously disqualified motion-capture performances by the likes of Andy Serkis. (The Globes are littered with arcane restrictions: animated and foreign-language films can't compete for Best Picture, for example.) Warner Bros. appealed against the ruling, but to no avail; the good news is that she's still eligible for Oscar and SAG consideration. [Variety]
Unlike their award for narrative features, which tends to closely mirror the Academy's Best Picture race, the Producers' Guild of America Award for documentaries is far less predictable and more idiosyncratic. The PGA may have agreed with the Academy (as did pretty much every major awards body) on "Searching for Sugar Man" last year, but the year before, not a single one of their nominees wound up in the Oscar race.
This morning's 2014 Independent Spirit Awards nominations were, as expected, dominated by Steve McQueen's "12 Years A Slave," but the nominating committees did spread the love around more than most pundits would have expected. Many awards players earned one or two expected nominations only to be overlooked in key categories you would have expected a nod in. As HitFix's own Kris Tapley noted in his Spirits analysis, there may just be too many fantastic movies to go around this season, independently or studio produced.
CULVER CITY, Calif. — A few weeks ago we ran an interview with the Coen Bros. about their latest film, "Inside Llewyn Davis." I put it up in a Q&A format rather than the usual prose kind of thing because the back and forth was so interesting to me. And for a pragmatic pair whose answers almost have more power in the context of the question, it made a lot of sense.
As I sat down to write up a lunch interview with star (and recent Spirit Award nominee) Oscar Isaac, it became apparent to me that it would benefit just as much from that treatment. The discussion has a natural flow and Isaac is so thoughtful in all of his responses that it would seem wrong to pick and choose the quotes that work best for a piece about the themes and character-building that went into the film.
Which brings me to another point about why a simple Q&A made a lot of sense. Just like the Coens, Isaac — as you'll plainly see in his answers — isn't too caught up in affectation and applying meaning to art. The existence of the thing is the thing. So the conversation, then, is the conversation. No fluffy piece built around choice excerpts. Just an hour-long chat about nostalgia, the life of a nomad, the impact of artists on community, music as an outlet, the inspiration of Buster Keaton and the danger of an actor's personality becoming bigger than the work itself.
So, this year's list of nominees for the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards have been announced. How did things shake out? Well, Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" led the way with seven nominations, but Alexander Payne's "Nebraska" wasn't far behind with six.
The nominees for Best Feature were "All is Lost," "Frances Ha," "Inside Llewyn Davis," "Nebraska" and "12 Years a Slave." My first instinct was to cry foul that Richard Linklater's glorious "Before Midnight" didn't slip in and only managed nods for screenplay and female lead, but as someone put it to me on Twitter, perhaps that just goes to show the quality of work across the independent spectrum this year. There is only so much room.
The nominees for the 29th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards have been announced. Check out the full list below.
Winners will be revealed at the annual pre-Oscar Santa Monica ceremony on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Joel and Ethan Coen's "Inside Llewyn Davis" has held a steady course since a Cannes bow, and going into the awards season, it looks to be as strong as ever. One person who could be recognized for his work in the film is John Goodman as the actor gets a whole vignette of sorts to himself in the film. And he makes the most of it, as he always does.
Well, it's not every award where you'll find James Franco's oddball S&M diversion "Interior. Leather Bar." nominated alongside Mexican auteur Carlos Reygadas' wildly experimental Cannes winner "Post Tenebras Lux." To be more precise, it's not any award but this one. The Cinema Eye Honors for documentary filmmaking -- onre of the biggest precursors on the non-fiction circuit -- announced their slate of nominees a couple of weeks ago, with "The Act of Killing" and "Cutie and the Boxer" leading the pack, but they added five nominees for their Heterodox Award yesterday.