Awards season fever quickly ticked up a few (thousand) degrees earlier this week, thanks to the release of that other show’s nominee list—a list predictably greeted with universal online approval and level-headed praise of its diverse selection of honorees. And now, at the end of the week, we have an announcement of our own to both balance out and bookend Monday’s news: the fact that as of today voting is now open to determine the winners of the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards, decided as always exclusively by Film Independent Members (NOTE: You must be an active Film Independent Member as of December 6, 2019 to be eligible to vote for this year’s Spirit Awards.)
But fair warning: it won’t be easy to decide. By any metric 2019 was a fantastic film year, making it extremely difficult to whittle talent down to manageable list of nominees, let alone a single winner. Luckily, Fi Members have until January 29 to cast their picks in all categories, with the winners announced at the 35th Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, February 8 in Santa Monica, hosted once again by the great Aubrey Plaza and broadcast only on IFC.
Selecting the would-be recipient of Film Independent Spirit Award is not a decision to be taken lightly. Which is why we’ve compiled together clips from seven top Spirit Award categories for further rumination, to be poured over and reconsidered with the severity of a Talmudic scholar.
Why We Love Them: The five films in our Best Feature category tell a range of stories unified by themes of faith, family and, um… Kevin Garnett? Okay, okay. So maybe one of these movies is a little more dissimilar to the rest. But even then, Uncut Gems features a family fracturing apart—as does Marriage Story. And of course, one of the drivers of familial disconnection in Marriage Story is geographic separation, a theme echoed in The Farewell. The Farewell, meanwhile, wrestles with ideas of readjusted personal principles in the face of external cultural pressures, a similar conflict as is engaged with—towards a far different conclusion—in A Hidden Life. And just like in A Hidden Life, moral crises and capitol punishment factor hugely Clemency, which features a scene of a character watching a basketball game on TV, as does Uncut Gems.
BEST FIRST FEATURE
Why We Love Them: It’s always exciting to imagine where a first-time filmmaker might take their career next. Maybe one of the resourceful upstarts spotlighted in our Best First Feature category will go on to helm the next big Marvel movie or end up running a major studio. Maybe they’ll stay true to their indie roots, further refining their aesthetic sensibilities and storytelling skills while methodically building up an estimable, artful filmography. Maybe they’ll create the next big streaming hit or go explore the world of VR. Who knows? Maybe they’ll just quit to become a cannabis farmer in Northern California. But for now, we have these singular debut features to appreciate—and that’s enough.
Why We Love Them: Every film presents its own unique set of challenges for a director—whether it’s prepping a seagull carcass with blood packets to explode just so upon bird-swatting impact, coaxing your psychologically multi-faceted lead to replicate his own troubled childhood, playing traffic cop among an intricately shifting set of power dynamics within the seemingly mundane setting of a suburban high school, ratcheting up the tension among a colorfully populated portrait of the New York underworld, or channeling Martin Scorsese for a slick, feminist crime caper set in the world of high-end strip clubs. Really, the skillset required to don the mantle of “film director” is truly staggering.
BEST FEMALE LEAD
Why We’re Excited: There were so many great performances this year, the Best Female Lead category ballooned to six nominees—with juicy parts ranging from rock stars recovering from substance abuse, to civil servants contemplating the identity-devaluing implications of mandatory retirement, to single mothers, memory-plagued matriarchs, a prison administrator suffering a crisis of faith and last but certainly not least, Judy Freakin’ Garland. So whether you’re looking for stories about the ravages of celebrity or about the quiet dignity of life spent in service, there’s plenty of stuff here for viewers to connect to.
BEST MALE LEAD
Why We’re Excited: There’s a lot fun stuff in our Best Male Lead category, and a lot of memorable onscreen business—from Robert Pattinson’s grim seafaring onanism, to Chris Galust’s frenzied piloting of a waylaid ADA van, to Adam Sandler’s under-footed double-and-triple-dealing. Matthias Schoenaerts’ stoic equine-enabled rehabilitation from within the walls of a Nevada penitentiary and Kelvin Harrison Jr.’s precariously positioned onetime child soldier teetering under administrative scrutiny? Arguably less fun, but still fascinating to watch.
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Why We’re Excited: A sexy stripper with money on her mind and a bone to pick with Wall Street. A young woman reeling from tragedy, immersed in a new relationship. An aging matriarch left out of the loop of her own life, yet still bubbling over with a lust for life. An exceedingly practical, wisecracking woman in a wheelchair who just wants to get on with her day. And a suspicious High School teacher who’s the hero of her own story—and the villain of others’. Yep—they’re your Best Supporting Female nominees!
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Why We’re Excited: Another trip up the ominously spiraling Lighthouse steps with a hirsute old-timer prone to flatulence. A double-dose of stage dad/little kid dysfunction courtesy of Honey Boy. A soulful holdout in the rapidly gentrifying City by the Bay. And a troubled Baptist preacher, equally at home inside the bottle as behind the pulpit. Yep—they’re your Best Supporting Male nominees!
To learn more about the 35th Film Independent Spirit Awards, click here. The 2020 Film Independent Sprit Awards will be held Saturday, February 8 in Santa Monica and broadcast live EXCLUSIVELY on IFC at 2:00pm PT/5:00pm ET.
Want to attend the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards? Contact Jennifer Murby at 323 556 9353 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
The Film Independent Spirit Awards are sponsored by Premier Sponsors American Airlines, IFC and Mazda. Bulleit Frontier Whiskey is the Official Spirit. FIJI Water is the Official Water. Getty Images is the Official Photographer. Town & Country Event Rentals is the Exclusive Rental Company.