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Spirit Awards Tue 1.29.2019

VIDEO: Voting for the 2019 Spirit Award Winners is Open. See who’s nominated.

If the Leaning Tower of Awards Screeners teetering precariously on the southernmost edge of your Ikea coffee table wasn’t indication enough, the fact that voting is now open for the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards should be indication enough that time is running short to catch up on all the 2018 titles you may have missed. We know—it can be an overwhelming amount of stuff to suddenly be funneling into your eyeballs, so much so that the whole endeavor may at times feel like some sort of inadvertent A Clockwork Orange cosplay.

But c’mon, the task at hand isn’t exactly digging ditches or trying to get shoppers to sign some sort of dubious petition outside Whole Foods. Watching movies is supposed to be fun! And you don’t have to be Tom Waits’ grizzled Buster Scruggs prospector, diligently sifting through oceans of dirt in search of gold. Just a glance at this year’s Spirit Award nominees confirms: 2018 was a great year for film.

Film Independent Members have until February 11 to cast their picks in all categories. Just think: when those star performers and filmmakers take the stage to accept their trophies inside the big Spirit Awards tent in Santa Monica on February 23, they’ll be thanking you for facilitating such a momentous occasion. So now, reacquaint yourself with the nominees in some of our top categories:



Why We’re Excited: The five films in our Best Feature category represent a spectrum of stories about individuals standing on the brink—of adolescence, of faith, sanity, emancipation and civilization itself. In most cases, the question these individuals must ask themselves is: am I going to leap? In two of the films, that choice is made for the individual by institutionalized systems; one school, one prison. Each film conjures a specific world, from the lush hideaways of the Pacific Northwest to cutthroat high schools hallway, corporatized religion and two very different visions of the New York underground. The nominees are a testament to the versatility and evocative power of the independent vision.

  • Nominees: Eighth Grade, First Reformed, If Beale Street Could Talk, Leave No Trace and You Were Never Really Here
  • Click here to learn more



Why We’re Excited: The 2019 Spirit Award directing nominees are an eclectic group, boasting three women and two men (including one filmmaker of color.) Several of these maverick moviemakers have logged time in the Spirit Awards tent before. Debra Granik and Paul Schrader have both been nominated previously, while both Jenkins—Barry and Tamara—have each won. Only the great Lynne Ramsay has somehow never been nominated, claiming her first spot among this elite class for her hyper-violent, impressionistic revenge-art-actioner You Were Never Really Here. We’ve of course all thrilled to these filmmakers work in the past, and look forward to more great work for years to come.

  • Nominees: Debra Granik (Leave No Trace), Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk), Tamara Jenkins (Private Life), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here) and Paul Schrader (First Reformed)
  • Click here to learn more



Why We’re Excited: Do you even need to ask why? Just count the number of actual nominees here: there were so many great performances from female actors this year we literally couldn’t narrow it down to just five. So instead you have six great flavors to choose from, including turns by industry icons, steadfast favorites and two total newcomers—Helena Howard and Elsie Fisher, each playing young women coming undone, in very different ways, by the pressures of adolescence and identity. And you don’t need to be the grieving parent whose demon-child was accidentally beheaded by a telephone pole or long-suffering literary moll to relate. The pain, passion and triumphs of these women are universal.

  • Nominees: Glenn Close (The Wife), Toni Collette (Hereditary), Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade), Regina Hall (Support the Girls), Helena Howard (Madeline’s Madeline) and Carey Mulligan (Wildlife)
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Why We’re Excited: If there’s one thing that unites the five performances recognized here, it’s desperation. The male animal is often at its most unpredictable—and fascinating to observe—when backed into a corner. Whether an ex-con trying to stay above the fray, a religious leader slowly losing his grip, a single father on the hunt for his missing daughter, a soulful killer on the warpath for revenge or simply a conflicted young man trying to deny his own nature, each of these gentlemen are all uniformly desperate in their own way. Complex and conflicted, it speaks to the talent of the five actors in this category that these damaged dudes are so believable as flesh-and-blood humans.

  • Nominees: John Cho (Searching), Daveed Diggs (Blindspotting), Ethan Hawke (First Reformed), Christian Malheiros (Sócrates) and Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here)
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Why We’re Excited: Like what we asked for Male Lead, do you care to guess as what common trait unifies our five Best Supporting Male nominees? The answer: nothing. Which is what makes this category so exciting! Each role is so different, they’re hard to compare: a white cop going undercover to pretend to be a black cop pretending to be in the Ku Klux Klan; a unreliable father who nevertheless loves his kids; a small-time con artist with a fondness for day drinking; a black cop at odds with his community; and an everyday dad just trying to do right by his awkward daughter. Would we watch some sort of fantasy crossover movie where all these characters interact with one another? Yes. Yes, we would.

  • Nominees: Raúl Castillo (We the Animals), Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Josh Hamilton (Eighth Grade) and John David Washington (Of Monsters and Men)
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Why We’re Excited: In contrast to their male counterparts, the characters in the Best Supporting Actor category are a vibrant mix of personality types, united by the desire to be nurturing. Sometimes these impulses to shepherd and support are well-intentioned but misguided—like volunteering your reproductive material to relatives you barely know or taking a disturbed stranger with a shaky story in under your wing—while others are purely noble, like the drive to get one’s son-in-law out of jail or stick beside one’s wounded-warrior paterfamilias. And then there’s the maternal impulse to keep a local theater operation afloat despite (seemingly) the Will of God. Do these characters make their mistakes? Of course they do. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want to spend your time with them.

  • Nominees: Kayli Carter (Private Life), Tyne Daly (A Bread Factory), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie (Leave No Trace) and J. Smith-Cameron (Nancy)
  • Click here to learn more


To learn how to vote for this year’s winners, click here. To learn how to become a Member of Film Independent, click here. To watch more exclusive clips and acceptance speeches, be sure to subscribe to Film Independent’s YouTube.

The Official Sponsor of the Voting Process is Rocket Mortgage® by Quicken Loans®. Rocket Mortgage is with you every step of the way.

To see who else is nominated at this year’s 34th Film Independent Spirit Awards click here. The 2019 Film Independent Sprit Awards will be held Saturday, February 23 back on the beach in Santa Monica and broadcast live EXCLUSIVELY on IFC at 5:00pm ET / 2:00pm PT.

The 2019 Spirit Awards is sponsored by Premier Sponsors American Airlines, AT&T, IFC and Subaru of America, Inc. Rocket Mortgage® by Quicken Loans® is the Official Sponsor of the Voting Process. FIJI Water is the Official Water. Hangar One Vodka and Maestro Dobel Tequila are the Official Spirits. JNSQ Wines is the Official Wine. Getty Images is the Official Photographer. Town & Country Event Rentals is the Exclusive Rental Company.

(Header: Eighth Grade)

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