Ten 2019 Spirit Awards Nominees to Watch Out For
Unlike many awards shows that expect you to have seen every nominee, the Film Independent Spirit Awards often promotes films that have yet to be released or may have snuck by you without notice. We thought we'd help you get ready for the big night by highlighting 10 favourites the Spirit Awards count among the best independent films of the year.
Tune in for the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards LIVE Saturday, March 23, at 5pm ET only on Hollywood Suite!
- Suspiria. Director Luca Guadagnino’s follow up Call Me By Your Name couldn’t be further from the lush countrysides and love stories of his Italian epic, showing a nightmarish version of post-war Berlin in this remake of Italian horror classic Suspiria. The film's dancing witch ensemble has already won the Altman Award but cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom has another chance to win at the ceremony. Last year we asked Guadagnino about his first memory of a film affecting him:
- Wildlife. Actor Paul Dano takes his first step behind the camera for this adaptation of a novel by Richard Ford, with a screenplay co-written by his wife Zoe Kazan. The film follows a young teen in the 1960s who deals with tension in his parents (Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal) relationship and is thrust into the unusual and incomprehensible world of adult emotion and disappointment. Dano and the film are up for the Best First Feature prize as well as his lead Carey Mulligan and Cinematographer Diego Garcia
- If Beale Street Could Talk. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight won all six Spirit Awards it was nominated for in 2017 but this year it only pulls in three, though a Best Picture and Best Director nomination are nothing to sneeze at. Regina King’s nominated portrayal of a fierce mother in crisis seems like a tough nomination to beat, having garnered both Spirit Award and Oscar nomination in a year where there’s not a lot of crossovers. We caught up with Barry Jenkins on the red carpet and talked a bit about what it was like adapting James Baldwin to the screen:
- Support the Girls. Director Andrew Bujalski might not be a household name but if you’ve ever heard the term ‘mumblecore’ he’s considered the real innovator of the style. Bujalski has since moved on to more expansive intimate portraits of unusual parts of society and often gives juicy roles to actors you might not expect. Hollywood’s other beloved Regina, Regina Hall, makes a tremendous turn in her Best Female Lead performance as an embittered manager of a Hooters-style ‘family’ restaurant who just wants what’s best for her employees.
- First Reformed. Before he wrote Taxi Driver, Paul Schrader was a critic and film writer who loved exploring the transcendental style in film typified by directors like Robert Bresson, Yasujirō Ozu, and Carl Dreyer. Once he became a filmmaker he felt the style was dead until he saw 2015 Best Foreign Film Spirit Award winner Ida and was inspired to create a transcendental film of his own. First Reformed follows Ethan Hawke as a priest faced with insurmountable theological questions, danger and examines the relationship between religion and environmentalism.
- The Tale. Writer/Director Jennifer Fox was the toast of Sundance last year for this deep, emotional examination of her own abuse at the hands of the adults her family trusted. In a twist, the film was purchased by HBO and aired on their channel so it competed for Emmys and Golden Globes in Television but the Spirit Awards have given it the chance to be remembered as the indie feature it originally was with Best First Feature, Best First Screenplay, and Best Editing nominations.
- Monsters and Men. Best Supporting Male nominee John David Washington is having a huge year not only starring in BlacKkKlansman but also as a part of the ensemble in this deep examination of racially motivated police shootings and those who are called to activism in combating the epidemic. Washington plays a black police officer who sees both sides of the conflict and the film follows two other stories including Anthony Ramos (who many saw in A Star is Born) as a witness to a shooting and Kelvin Harrison Jr. as a talented athlete who feels the call to do more. We caught up with Kevin Willmott, one of the Oscar Nominated screenwriters of BlacKkKlansman to discuss the life and work of Ron Stallworth, who John David Washington portrays in the film:
- Searching. Not all indie films fly under the radar, last summer Searching was a sleeper hit making almost $75 million on a budget of just around $1 million. The premise of a father searching for his daughter through her computer screen was high-concept and "Hollywood" enough to get audiences in seats but it was Spirit Award Nominee John Cho who convinced critics this was more than just a standard thriller. This is Cho’s first nomination though last year Columbus, lead by Cho, was nominated for three awards.
- Roma. Awards watchers might be surprised to see many critics beloved Roma only nominated for a single award but it’s important to remember that the Film Independent Spirit Awards are a celebration of American independent films first and foremost. Roma comes back with a vengeance at The Oscars, but the Spirit Awards could see a surprise win from Oscar snub Burning, other Oscar fav The Favourite or even Netflix’s other big foreign acquisition from Italy Happy as Lazarro. We talked with Roma leads Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira about the unique style of the film and how the Mexican film has connected with international audiences.
- Eighth Grade. Many had high hopes Eighth Grade would show up on the Oscars stage before a sweep of big studio films pushed it aside, which means the Spirit Awards will really be this innovative teen drama’s night to shine. Youtube sensation Bo Burnham turned his fandom of teenagers into one of the more charming, funny and realistic realizations of teen life on screen in years and he has garnered four nominations including Best Feature, Best First Screenplay and nominations for both his teen lead Elsie Fisher and adult supporting actor Josh Hamilton.