Spirit Award nominated films you might have missed
Best Feature nominees Call Me By Your Name, Get Out and Lady Bird all made a big splash this year, but they aren't the only indies to catch the attention of the Spirit Awards.
Here are 20 excellent films to watch for at the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards March 3 at 5pm ET only on Hollywood Suite in Canada!
- The Big Sick. This Best First Screenplay nominee creates a romantic comedy out of comedian (and former Spirit Awards host) Kumail Nanjiani's unusual real-life courtship. Among the most crowd-pleasing of this year's nominees, this movie was a massive box office success for a film its size, and also earns a Best Supporting Actress nod for Holly Hunter.
- Mudbound. It's no surprise Dee Rees's Mudbound already earned the Robert Altman award as this generation-spanning epic stretches the bounds of what independent cinema can achieve. A film that touches on themes of race, class, family and what can tear those things apart is commanded steadily by Rees and her stacked cast worthy of the director who inspired the award.
- Beach Rats. This tale of loss and same-sex attraction along the Jersey Shore may not have earned writer/director Eliza Hittman any nominations but its power wasn't forgotten. Her work with British Actor Harris Dickinson is rightly nominated for Best Male lead considering his subtle, chameleonic transformation and Hélène Louvart's beautiful filming makes her the sole female cinematography nominee at this year's awards.
- Menashe. Documentary filmmaker Joshua Z. Weinstein turns to fiction filmmaking with this story from New York's Hasidic Jewish community in his Best First Feature nominee. Told with a warmth and realism, and anchored by a brilliant performance from Menashe Lustig, whose real struggles after the death of his wife inspired the film, this movie brings truth and insight from a small community to the rest of the world.
- Most Beautiful Island. This John Cassavetes Award nominee, a harrowing thriller following an undocumented immigrant, is guaranteed to get under your skin. Writer/Director and star Ana Asensio manages a plot that turns on a dime from harsh realism to fantastical nightmares and will stick with you long after it finishes. It took home the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW.
- Motherland. Ramona S. Diaz's Best Documentary nominee chronicles life in the world's busiest maternity hospital in Manila. Winner of an editing award, this film makes wonderfully human sense of its chaotic subject matter.
- Donald Cried. Your face might hurt from cringing along with Kristopher Avedisian's Best First Screenplay nominee, which shows the hilarious struggle in returning to your hometown. Avedisian wows not only in the raw, emotional humour he extracts, but also in the titular role which immediately secures him a place alongside director/performers like Mike White and Danny McBride.
- A Ghost Story. This John Cassavetes nominee may be low budget, but you'd never tell from the lush visuals and A-list turn from star Rooney Mara. A favourite from last year's Sundance Festival, this look at the afterlife reinforces writer/director David Lowery as a master of mood and a filmmaker to watch.
- Ingrid Goes West. This penetrating satire of social media culture tapped deep enough into the zeitgeist to earn both a Best First Feature and Best Screenplay nomination. Watch along and you'll also discover a depth in performance by lead Aubrey Plaza that will convince you she's more than just a sitcom star.
- The Departure. Her second nomination after her lauded documentary After Tiller, director Lana Wilson once again mines a controversial topic: following a Buddhist priest in Japan who counsels those considering taking their own lives. This Best Documentary nominee presents a delicately unfolding portrait, and is a wonderful examination of death and the effect it has on the living.
- Marjorie Prime. Fans of Black Mirror will want to check out this science fiction parable based on a play by the same name. Hollywood veteran Lois Smith earns her Best Supporting Actress nomination with a performance that makes use of her over half-a-century of experience on screen.
- Good Time. This low-key thriller follows a man desperately trying to earn bail for his developmentally disabled brother has earned not only five Indie Spirit nominations, but a place on many critics Top 10 lists. This film represents the biggest hit for the Safdie Brothers, staples of the New York indie scene, and a future for star Robert Pattinson as an indie darling as well as a box-office force.
- The Lovers. Movie fans will be most excited by a new star turn from Debra Winger in this Best Screenplay nominee. Writer/Director Azazel Jacobs finds wit and charm in the story of two cheating spouses starting to fall in love with each other again for the first time in years.
- Beatriz at Dinner. Previous Indie Spirit-winning team of director Miguel Arteta and screenwriter Mike White re-team for this biting look at class, race, and politics in America. Best Actress nominee Salma Hayek is electric against rival John Lithgow in this comedy of manners for a post-Trump America.
- Dayveon. Far from a traditional gang narrative, this languorous look at boyhood in rural Arkansas explores the hurt and need in a teen drawn into crime. Arkansas-based filmmaker Amman Abbasi knows his setting like the back of his hand and delivers a unique drama more than worthy of its John Cassavetes Award nomination.
- Patti Cake$. Geremy Jasper's Best First Feature nominated narrative about a struggling rapper may hit some familiar beats, but its lead performance by Danielle Macdonald charmed audiences. While it was a hit at 2017's Sundance Festival, this movie failed to connect at the box office and remains a hidden gem for many movie fans.
- Last Men in Aleppo. A crossover nomination with Oscar, this Best Documentary nominee follows civilian first responders in the Syrian war zone looking to save the lives of those left in Aleppo. Already a winner of 18 international awards, this documentary is definitely the one to beat in the category.
- Columbus. Movie fans will likely know Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay nominee Kogonada for his viral video essays examining the visual obsessions of film directors. That visual eye extends to this beautiful John Cho-starring drama expertly lensed by Best Cinematography nominee Elisha Christian.
- Women Who Kill. Fans of LGBTQ web series are already familiar with the prolific work of Ingrid Jungermann who makes her feature debut with this Best First Screenplay nominee. This dark comedy follows the host of a true crime podcast drawn into a new relationship with a woman her cohost is convinced is a murderer.
- The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Two Indie Spirit nominations represent the first for Greek filmmaking phenomenon Yorgos Lanthimos. The creepy turn by Barry Keoghan as a sinister interloper in the lives of a family earns a Best Supporting Actor nomination while the disturbing visuals aided by his long-term collaborator Thimios Bakatakis earn a Best Cinematography nod.