The Indie Spirit Awards are restricted to American fare that costs less than $20 million. Among those films eligible for consideration that were snubbed entirely in Tuesday’s announcement of nominations are three hot Oscar prospects: “The Imitation Game,” “Wild” and “The Homesman.” And two other Oscar hopefuls — “Big Eyes” and “Still Alice” — had to make do with a single bid apiece.
While it might seem strange that the British-themed WWII drama “The Imitation Game” was even in the running, the criteria set out by Film Independent dictate that two of the three key creatives (in this case screenwriter Graham Moore and producer Harvey Weinstein) are American. Alternatively, the film must be set stateside with at least 70% of the funding coming from an American source (that is how Weinstein got “The Artist” a slew of Spirit Awards back in 2011.)
That Reese Witherspoon, who shephered Fox Searchlight’s “Wild” to the screen after reading Cheryl Strayed‘s memoir in galley form, was left off the Best Actress list is inexplicable. Instead, the committee nominated another Oscar champ, Marion Cotillard, for the little-seen “The Immigrant.” “Wild” director Jean-Marc Vallee has no luck with the Spirits; he was snubbed last year for “Dallas Buyers Club” despite helming two winning performances (Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto).
And two-time Oscar champ Hilary Swank should have been another shoo-in for a Best Actress bid for her jaw-dropping performance in Tommy Lee Jones “The Homesman” (Roadside Attraction). After all, one of the first awards that Swank ever won was this one for “Boys Don’t Cry” back in 1999.
Perhaps these films ran afoul of the nominating guidelines that govern the committee:
Uniqueness of vision;
Original, provocative subject matter;
Economy of means (with particular attention paid to total production cost and individual compensation); and
Percentage of financing from independent sources.
Among the other headscratchers was the decision by the committee to bestow special awards on two films that exceeded the budget limitation — Bennett Miller‘s “Foxcatcher” (Sony Pictures Classics) and Paul Thomas Anderson‘s “Inherent Vice” (Warner Bros.) — but shun Wes Anderson‘s likewise ineligible “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Fox Searchlight). This one-time darling of the indie set has racked up five Spirit nominations over the years (including two Best Picture bids) and won Best Director for “Rushmore” back in 1998.