by Matt Warren | Film Independent Spirit Awards

Wouldn’t you know it, the Film Independent Spirit Awards are now old enough to run for President, just in time for the 2020 elections. That’s right: this year’s ceremony recognizing the best (and budget-friendliest) in independent cinema marks the awards’ 35th anniversary. First begun as a casual industry luncheon tucked into the dining room of a small West Hollywood eatery, the Spirit Awards have steadily ascended in prominence and prestige, growing to its current state—to a much nicer lunch inside a tent a few miles West, in Santa Monica.

We kid, we kid. The Spirit Awards are, in fact, extraordinarily unique among Hollywood awards shows—an all-day celebration of independent film in amazing location that acts as the primarily fundraiser for Film Independent’s year-round calendar of events, international programs, filmmaker education and artist development programs.

Then again, some things never change—like the fact that Spirit Award winners are voted on exclusively by Film Independent Members. Join by Dec 5 to receive awards screeners and full Spirit Award Member benefits. And as of this morning, you have some added incentive…

The 2020 Film Independent Spirit Award nominees were announced this morning, November 21, at The LINE LA in Los Angeles—presented by Zazie Beetz (Atlanta, Joker) and Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black, Russian Doll) and recognizing yet another tremendous group of independent storytellers. The 2020 Spirit Awards take place February 8, 2020, broadcast live on IFC. Phew! So without further delay, here are this year’s nominees:

BEST FEATURE
(Award given to the producer)

  • A HIDDEN LIFE
    Producers: Elisabeth Bentley, Dario Bergesio, Grant Hill, Josh Jeter
  • CLEMENCY
    Producers: Timur Bekbosunov, Julian Cautherley, Bronwyn Cornelius, Peter Wong
  • THE FAREWELL
    Producers: Anita Gou, Daniele Melia, Andrew Miano, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Lulu Wang, Chris Weitz, Jane Zheng
  • MARRIAGE STORY
    Producers:  Noah Baumbach, David Heyman
  • UNCUT GEMS
    Producers: Eli Bush, Sebastian Bear McClard, Scott Rudin

BEST FIRST FEATURE
(Award given to the director and producer)

  • BOOKSMART
    Director: Olivia Wilde; Producers: Chelsea Barnard, David Distenfeld, Jessica Elbaum, Megan Ellison, Katie Silberman
  • THE CLIMB
    Director: Michael Angelo Covino; Producers: Noah Lang, Kyle Marvin
  • DIANE
    Director: Kent Jones; Producers: Luca Borghese, Ben Howe, Caroline Kaplan, Oren Moverman
  • THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO
    Director/Producer: Joe Talbot; Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Khaliah Neal, Christina Oh
  • THE MUSTANG
    Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre; Producer: Ilan Goldman
  • SEE YOU YESTERDAY
    Director: Stefon Bristol; Producer: Spike Lee

BEST DIRECTOR

BEST SCREENPLAY

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY

  • Fredrica Bailey, Stefon Bristol, See You Yesterday
  • Hannah Bos, Paul Thureen, Driveways
  • Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy, Blow the Man Down
  • Jocelyn Deboer, Dawn Luebbe, Greener Grass
  • James Montague, Craig W. Sanger, The Vast of Night

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
(Award given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director and producer)

  • BURNING CANE
    Writer/Director/Producer: Phillip Youmans; Producers: Ojo Akinlana, Jakob Johnson, Karen Kaia Livers, Mose Mayer, Wendell Pierce, Isaac Web, Cassandra Youmans
  • COLEWELL
    Writer/Director: Tom Quinn; Producers: Joshua Blum, Alexandra Byer, Craig Shilowich, Matthew Thurm
  • GIVE ME LIBERTY
    Writer/Director/Producer: Kirill Mikhanovsky; Writer/Producer: Alice Austen; Producers: Val Abel, Wally Hall, Michael Manasseri, George Rush, Sergey Shtern
  • PREMATURE
    Writer/Director/Producer: Rashaad Ernesto Green; Writer: Zora Howard; Producers: Darren Dean, Joy Ganes
  • WILD NIGHTS WITH EMILY
    Writer/Director/Producer: Madeleine Olnek; Producers: Anna Margarita Albelo, Casper Andreas, Max Rifkind-Barron

BEST MALE LEAD

  • Chris Galust, Give Me Liberty
  • Kelvin Harrison Jr., Luce
  • Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse
  • Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems
  • Matthias Schoenaerts, The Mustang

BEST FEMALE LEAD

  • Karen Allen, Colewell
  • Hong Chau, Driveways
  • Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell
  • Mary Kay Place, Diane
  • Renée Zellweger, Judy
  • Alfre WoodardClemency

BEST SUPPORTING MALE

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
(The Someone to Watch Award, now in its 26th year, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.)

See the full list of nominees here.

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