Oscars frontrunner “12 Years a Slave” picked up a leading seven bids when nominations for the 29th annual edition of the Independent Spirit Awards were announced Tuesday. 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 the afternoon before the Academy Awards. (See full list of nominations here.)
Those four films are all in the hunt for Best Picture as is “Frances Ha.” Among those American made movies snubbed for this top award were: “Before Midnight,” “Blue Jasmine“, “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Enough Said,” “Fruitvale Station” and “Mud.”
“Nebraska” is also in the hunt 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.
American feature film nominees, culled from entries with budgets of under $20 million, were determined by a committee while winners will be chosen by members of Film Independent. The prizes will be handed out on March 1, one day before the Oscars during an afternoon ceremony on Santa Monica. A 2 p.m. start means that only a taped version of the show will air on IFC.
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