For proof that indie fare has gone mainstream, look no further than the Best Picture line-up at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards. Four of the five nominees — “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “Selma” and “Whiplash” — are also up for the top prize at the Academy Awards. The fifth Spirits contender — “Love Is Strange” — was snubbed by the Oscars.
Since the motion picture academy expanded the Best Picture category in 2010, it has been easy to predict what will prevail at these kudos that are held the day before the Oscars: the hottest Academy Awards prospect wins here first.
We saw that last year when “12 Years a Slave” swept these awards, winning five including Best Picture, before triumphing at the Oscars. Among those it edged out for the top Spirit was “Nebraska,” another Best Picture Oscar nominee.
In 2012, two Spirit nominees for Best Feature were also among the nine Oscar contenders for Best Picture: “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” Spirit voters went with the bigger hit of the two, “Silver Linings,” which was only the 15th film ever to reap Oscar nominations in all four acting categories, winning Best Actress for Jennifer Lawrence. However, it was the studio picture “Argo” that claimed the top Oscar.
In 2011, the Spirit Awards feted “The Artist,” which went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture.
And in 2010, “Black Swan” won at the Spirits over, among others, “Winter’s Bone.” Both vied for Best Picture at the Oscars but lost to “The King’s Speech.” As with “Silver Linings,” “Swan” had a better known director (Darren Aronofsky) and star (Natalie Portman). However, “Winter’s Bone” leading lady Lawrence soon eclipsed her.
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