The Independent Spirit Awards? More Like The A24 and Sony Pictures Classics Award Show.

The Independent Spirit Awards? More Like The A24 Award Show.

Even if you don’t know that much about me, you probably know that I adore independent films. I am that guy who travels to various film festivals, on my own dime, to see and experience the wonder that is independent filmmaking. Oddly enough, I discovered Independent films very late in life. It wasn’t until 2001 where I discovered Independent film. I will never forget the first three independent films that I saw which really made me fall in love with the art form. Those films were Donnie Darko, Ghost World, and Lost & Delirious. Up until 2001, I am sure I saw an Independent film here and there (American Beauty and Reservoir Dogs come to mind)  but I never realized or appreciated what these films meant and stood for. Those three above mentioned films, in a lot of ways, are the reason why I feel so strongly about cinema because I feel they showed me worlds that were character and story driven rather than action or special effects driven. They made me laugh, they made me feel, they made me cry. They ignited some sort of special and indescribable feeling that I didn’t know I could have towards film before 2001.

With that being said, the Independent Spirit Awards are my jam. Yes, I love the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes, but the Independent Spirit Awards celebrate the wonder and power of Independent filmmaking. This is the award show that celebrates the cast, directors, writers, and everyone else that is involved in celebrating film without the big budget or studio backing. This year’s nominations, for the most part, weren’t very shocking but I do have a bit of concern as a lover of Independent films. I will be happy to discuss my fear below as well as some important lessons that the Academy Awards and Golden Globes can take away from Film Independent.

The 2018 Independent Spirit Award Nominations were officially announced yesterday, November 21, 2017, and here is the complete list of nominees.


Call Me by Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics)

The Florida Project (A24)

Get Out  (Universal)

Lady Bird (A24)

The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics)


Columbus (Sundance)

Ingrid Goes West (Neon)

Menashe (A24)

Oh Lucy! (NKH and Phantom Film)

Patti Cake$ (Fox Searchlight)

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000.

Dayveon (Filmrise)

A Ghost Story (A24)

Life and nothing more (No Distributor)

Most Beautiful Island (Samuel Goldwyn Films)

The Transfiguration (Transfiguration Productions)


Sean Baker
The Florida Project   (A24)

Jonas Carpignano
A Ciambra   (Academy Two)

Luca Guadagnino
Call Me by Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics)

Jordan Peele
Get Out  (Univeral)

Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
Good Time    (A24)

Chloé Zhao
The Rider    (Sony Pictures Classics)


Greta Gerwig
Lady Bird        (A24)

Azazel Jacobs
The Lovers     (A24)

Martin McDonagh
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight)

Jordan Peele
Get Out  (Universal)

Mike White
Beatriz at Dinner (Roadside Attractions/FilmNation Entertainment/Elevation Pictures)


Kris Avedisian
Story By: Kyle Espeleta, Jesse Wakeman
Donald Cried  (The Orchard)

Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani
The Big Sick  (Amazon Studios)

Ingrid Jungermann
Women Who Kill (Filmrise)

Columbus (Sundance)

David Branson Smith, Matt Spicer
Ingrid Goes West (Neon)


 Thimios Bakatakis
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (A24)

Elisha Christian
Columbus       (Sundance)

Hélène Louvart
Beach Rats    (Neon)

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom
Call Me by Your Name  (Sony Pictures Classics)

Joshua James Richards
The Rider. (Sony Pictures Classics)


Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie
Good Time  (A24)

Walter Fasano
Call Me by Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics)

Alex O’Flinn
The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics)

Gregory Plotkin
Get Out      (Univeral)

Tatiana S. Riegel
I, Tonya     (Neon)


Salma Hayek
Beatriz at Dinner (Roadside Attractions/FilmNation Entertainment/Elevation Pictures)

Frances McDormand
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight)

 Margot Robbie
I, Tonya (Neon)

Saoirse Ronan
Lady Bird  (A24)

Shinobu Terajima
Oh Lucy!  (Phantom Film)

Regina Williams
Life and nothing more  (No Distributor)


Timothée Chalamet
Call Me by Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics)

Harris Dickinson
Beach Rats  (Neon)

James Franco
The Disaster Artist (A24)

Daniel Kaluuya
Get Out  (Universal)     

Robert Pattinson
Good Time (A24)


Holly Hunter
The Big Sick (Amazon Studios)

Allison Janney
I, Tonya  (Neon)

Laurie Metcalf
Lady Bird (A24)

Lois Smith
Marjorie Prime (Filmrise)

Taliah Lennice Webster
Good Time (A24)


Nnamdi Asomugha
Crown Heights   (Amazon Studios)               

Armie Hammer
Call Me by Your Name  (Sony Pictures Classics)     

Barry Keoghan
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (A24)

Sam Rockwell
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri  (Fox Searchlight)

Benny Safdie
Good Time (A24)


Mudbound (Netflix)
Director: Dee Rees
Casting Directors: Billy Hopkins, Ashley Ingram
Ensemble Cast: Jonathan Banks, Mary J. Blige, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan, Carey Mulligan 


The Departure

Faces Places

Last Men in Aleppo



BPM (Beats Per Minute) (Memento Films)
Director: Robin Campillo

A Fantastic Woman (Sony Pictures Classics)
Director: Sebastián Lelio 

I Am Not a Witch (No Distributor)
Director: Rungano Nyoni 

Lady Macbeth (Roadside Attractions)
Director: William Oldroyd 

Loveless (Sony Pictures Classics)
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev 

BONNIE AWARD – Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo joined American Airlines in 1973 at age 24, becoming the first female pilot to fly for a major U.S. airline. In her honor, the inaugural Bonnie Award will recognize a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant, sponsored by American Airlines.

So Yong Kim
Lynn Shelton
Chloé Zhao

JEEP TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 23rd annual Truer Than Fiction Award, funded by the Jeep brand, is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by the Jeep brand.

Shevaun Mizrahi
Director of Distant Constellation        

Jonathan Olshefski
Director of Quest       

Jeff Unay
Director of The Cage Fighter

KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 24th annual Someone to Watch Award, funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851.

Amman Abbasi
Director of Dayveon 

Justin Chon
Director of Gook   (Samuel Goldwyn Films)

Kevin Phillips
Director of Super Dark Times (The Orchard)

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 21st annual Producers Award, funded by Piaget, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget.

Giulia Caruso & Ki Jin Kim
Ben LeClair
Summer Shelton

For argument’s sake, I would like to break down my thoughts by pointing out the pros and cons of the nominations.


  1. The films that have been nominated are, for the most part, great to amazing films.
  2. It’s nice to see that the Film Independent Spirit Awards continue to celebrate and isn’t afraid of highlighting the work of people of color and women.
  3. There isn’t one film that seems to hog all the spotlight over another one. It seems like it is an even playing field (in terms of the film nominated) with the hopes that one film won’t come in and sweep the entire award show.
  4. There are a few nice surprises including nominating a few films that don’t have a distributor as of yet like Life or nothing more.


  1. While there is a wide array of films in each of the categories, A24 as well as Sony Pictures Classics, do have this award show on lockdown. When you look at the nominations closely, A24 has at least one film, usually two, in twelve of the major categories. Sony Pictures Classics has at least one film nominated in seven of the categories. I do think that Frances McDormand is going to win for Three Billboards. Get Out and The Big Sick are sure bets to win at least one award each, and maybe there will be a surprise or two but I wouldn’t hold your breath. This is going to be the A24 show with Sony Pictures Classics being the opening act.
  2. A24, Sony Pictures Classics, Neon, Amazon, and Universal all have a huge presence in the film marketplace. Their films have been talked about and there is more buzz around them when compared to a lot of the smaller films nominated. This makes me wonder should the Spirit Awards break down their awards even further by adding more categories where the five major players in the Independent film world won’t compete against the films that aren’t as widely promoted and are more of hidden treasures?
  3. Predictable. I think a lot of this categories are easy to predict who will win.

Final thoughts:

The Film Independent Spirit Awards nominees shine a bright light on diversity. The Golden Globes and Academy Awards should try to follow in their footsteps. There needs to be variety in all these award shows and some of the nominations need to include people of color and women in front and behind the camera. The nominations should also not always be for a film that makes a ton of money or is backed by the biggest studio. There are a ton of great films that aren’t being talked about and it’s nice to see that the Spirit Awards continues to focus on at least a handful of those films each year.

With that being said, I am a bit concerned, however, that the award show is slowly becoming a bit too studio driven. It feels like there are only five studios receiving the bulk of the nominations. They are a few bones being thrown here and there but how likely is a film like Columbus going to compete with something like The Big Sick? Amazon and Universal are not small studios, they have plenty of money to throw into marketing and promotion.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that Film Independent has forgotten what they stand for. They give out funding to help smaller films and even run a film festival. I think, however, that they do need to look at what is going on in the industry right now. Independent film has completely changed over the past few years thanks to streaming services. There are so many films being released that no one talks about, let alone mentions to anyone. Film Independent’s own film festival shows at least a hundred films that fall under the radar.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have an award show that can equally represent the major players in the Independent Film World as well as the unsung heroes?

The 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards will air on IFC on March 3, 2018

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