The Spirit Award for Best First Feature has previously gone to noteworthy filmmakers like Paul Haggis (“Crash,” 2005), Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich,” 1999), David O. Russell (“Spanking the Monkey,” 1994) and Spike Lee (“She’s Gotta Have It,” 1986), to name a few. This year Marielle Heller is the frontrunner to win for “Diary of a Teenage Girl” according to our combined predictions. She would be the first woman to win since Patty Jenkins for “Monster” in 2003.
We’ve polled Expert film journalists, Editors who cover awards year-round for Gold Derby, the Top 24 Users who got the highest scores predicting last year’s Spirit Award winners and more than 1,000 total Users who make up our largest and often savviest bloc of predictors.
Twelve out of 13 experts predicting the Spirit Awards are betting on “Diary,” giving it 2/11 odds: Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes), Edward Douglas (Weekend Warrior), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Adnan Virk (ESPN) and Susan Wloszczyna (RogerEbert.com).
Jack Mathews (Gold Derby) is the lone expert predicting Josh Mond‘s “James White,” giving it 9/1 odds.
Matthews could be right; “James White” also earned nominations for Best Actor (Christopher Abbott) and Best Supporting Actress (Cynthia Nixon). Though “Diary of a Teenage Girl” also has strong support, picking up a Best Actress bid for Bel Powley and another nom for Heller for Best First Screenplay.
Our editors are also split between “Diary” and “James White.” Five out of six of us are predicting “Diary”: Chris Beachum, Marcus Dixon, O’Neil, Sheehan and myself. Rob Licuria is joining expert Mathews in picking “James White.”
Our Top 24 Users are even more divided. Sixteen of them agree that “Diary” is the frontrunner, but six are btting on “James White,” one says it will be “Mediterranea” and the last is going out on a limb for “Manos Sucias.”
None of our experts, editors or top users are predicting the last nominee in the category: “Songs My Brother Taught Me.”
Who do you think will win?
Make your Spirit Award predictions beginning with Best First Feature to the right or below. Just log into your Gold Derby account (or you can register for a free account via Facebook, Twitter or Google) and then start casting your votes.
Gold Derby readers just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it’s important that you give us your predictions. You can continue to update and change your forecasts, just click “Save Predictions” when you’ve settled on your choice.
Photo Credits: “Diary of a Teenage Girl” by Sony Pictures Classics