Keep Your Eyes on These 2020 Film Independent Spirit Award Nominees
Awards season is upon us once again and as usual there are plenty of movies to catch up on. As always, the most exciting and eclectic selections comes with the Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations. The list might seem intimidating but you’ve got until our live broadcast on February 8th to catch up so we thought we’d run down ten nominees you can stream at home on various streaming services and VOD right now!
- The Farewell. Lulu Wang’s indie box-office smash continues to dominate with a Best Feature nomination and Wang herself nominated for the Bonnie Award, recognizing women filmmakers. The film follows Billi who heads to China for a family gathering uncertain whether to respect her family’s decision to keep the diagnosis of a terminal illness from her grandmother. It features a great turn from Awkwafina as Billi but it’s veteran Chinese actress Zhao Shuzhen as the bold spirited grandmother who nabs a Supporting Actress nomination this year.
- Apollo 11. This found-footage documentary has already taken home an Editing Award at Sundance so it’s no surprise it nabbed a Best Documentary Spirit Award nomination. The film traces the Apollo 11 launch and the moon landing, using only footage from the time and weaves a beautiful document that really makes history come alive on screen.
- The Third Wife. It’s fairly rare for a period piece or foreign-set film to crack into the major awards with Film Independent, but this film, set in 19th century Vietnam, managed to nab an Editing, Cinematography and Someone to Watch Award for director Ash Mayfair. Far from a stuffy old story though, the film explores same sex attraction and what that meant in the context of the time.
- Luce. This twisty dramatic thriller earned director Julius Onah and his two sparring actors Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Octavia Spencer nominations. The story finds the shades of grey between a student, his adopted family and his hard nosed teacher when a small incident spirals out of control. Canadian viewers may get excited for a tremendously moving turn from Kim’s Convenience’s Andrea Bang.
- The Mustang. French actress Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre steps behind the camera for her first feature with this story of a violent convict finding solace in taming wild horses. The film picks up a Best First Feature nomination along with one for Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts who film fans will remember from previous awards favourites Bullhead and Rust & Bone.
- The Last Black Man In San Francisco. This film taps into the zeitgeist of a changing San Francisco and those stuck in the classes and races left behind. The emotional story already earned a Best Director and Special Jury Prize at Sundance, and comes into the Spirit Awards looking for a Best Director repeat as well as hoping to collect a Best First Feature award and something for its best supporting actor Jonathan Majors.
- American Factory. This Best Documentary nominee split the category at Sundance taking home the prize for its directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert. They follow a closed GM plant in Ohio that reopens as a glass factory with Chinese ownership and how the management and workers explore the gap between cultures and how they view work. What starts as a simple story eventually builds to a complex examination of labour and how it’s treated in America and around the world.
- See You Yesterday. This low budget science fiction film's runner-up status for the audience award at the Tribeca film festival announced it as a crowd-pleasing favourite. The film manages to inject a story of teen time travel will real gravitas as a young black woman uses technology she invented in an attempt to save her brother when he is murdered by a police officer.
- Diane. Mary Kay Place lands her second Spirit Award nomination for her lead in this story of a woman finally contending with her long buried past. Along with her nomination, Kent Jones gets a nod for his first fiction feature, having previously been known best for his documentaries, including Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015).
- High Flying Bird. You may have missed this direct-to-streaming sports drama from director Steven Soderbergh but it has waited almost a year to get a Spirit Award nomination. The award could be the second for screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney who provides the script and High Flying Bird once again has André Holland dramatizing the script after their award winning work on Moonlight (2016).