Last year, “Silver Linings Playbook” upset “Beasts of the Southern Wild” in the two top races at the Indie Spirit Awards, winning both Best Picture and Director (David O. Russell). The film also won awards for Jennifer Lawrence as Best Actress (a day before she claimed the Oscar) and Screenplay. “Silver Linings” lost its fifth bid as John Hawkes (“The Sessions“) won Best Actor over Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper. As “Silver Linings” had a budget of $21 million, it had to be given special dispensation to contend.
Hawkes claimed the supporting award four years ago for “Winter’s Bone,” which launched Lawrence. Helen Hunt won the supporting actress award for her work with Hawkes. “Beasts” prevailed with just one of its four bids — Cinematography. “Moonrise Kingdom,” which also had a leading five nominations was shut out. Writer/director Wes Anderson lost both those races to Russell, who won Best First Feature 17 years ago for “Spanking the Monkey”; that award went to “Perks of Being a Wallflower” this year.
This year, Oscars frontrunner “12 Years a Slave” lead with seven nominations. While its biggest Oscars rival — the big budget blockbuster “Gravity” was ineligible here — other top contenders including “Nebraska” (6 bids), “All is Lost” (4) and “Inside Llewyn Davis” (3) will also vie for these precursor prizes which are handed out on March 1, the day before the Academy Awards. Those four films are all in the hunt for Best Picture here as is “Frances Ha.”
“Nebraska” is also in contention for three acting awards — lead Bruce Dern and featured players June Squibb and Will Forte — as well as Director (Alexander Payne) and First Screenplay. All this recognition gives the black-and-white comedy a big boost in its Oscar campaign.
Ejiofor is locked in a tight battle for the Oscar with Robert Redford (“All is Lost“) who also contends here as do likely Oscar rivals Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club“) and Dern (“Nebraska”). That race is rounded out by two men who are on the bubble for an Oscar bid — “Fruitvale Station” star Michael B. Jordan and “Inside Llewyn Davis” lead Oscar Isaac .
Those last two films fared surprisingly poorly here. Despite ranking fourth in our Oscar charts for her performance in “Fruitvale Station” Octavia Spencer was snubbed in the supporting actress category in favor of co-star Melonie Diaz. “Inside Llewyn Davis” scene stealer John Goodman was left off the list of supporting actors while the Coen brothers were snubbed for both directing and writing this tribute to folk music.
Cate Blanchett — Oscar frontrunner for Best Actress — contends here first for her performance in “Blue Jasmine” as does her on-screen sister Sally Hawkins in the supporting race. And while Woody Allen was snubbed for his helming, he did pick up a bid for his writing, contending for the combined Screenplay award, which pits original works such as his against adaptations.
Golden Globe frontrunner Julia Louis-Dreyfus did not get nominated for her comedic performance in “Enough Said” but her co-star, the late James Gandolfini, was cited for his supporting role as was director Nicole Holofcener for her script.
And while “Mud” was shut out save for a directing bid for Jeff Nichols, its cast will be feted with the Robert Altman Award.
Below, begin your predictions for the Indie Spirit Awards by forecasting the winner of Best Picture.