Indie Spirits Awards nominations 2017 preview: Oscar hopefuls are strong contenders

Nominations for the 32nd annual edition of the Independent Spirit Awards will be announced on Nov. 22. As indie fare released by the specialty branches of the studios has come to dominate the Academy Awards, there has been far more crossover between the two kudos. Among this year’s leading Oscar contenders, expect “Loving,” “Manchester By the Sea” and “Moonlight” to figure prominently in these precursor prizes.

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For the last three years running, the winner of Best Feature at Saturday’s Indies — “12 Years a Slave,”  “Birdman” and “Spotlight” respectively — went on to claim the top Oscar on Sunday. And eight of the 12 acting Academy Awards champs first prevailed here.

However, predicting the nominations for these prizes is complicated by several factors. To start, we don’t know which films are eligible. Unlike the motion picture academy, Film Independent does not release a list of qualifying films.

The rules dictate that the films have budgets of no more than $20 million and be “American,” which is defined as either:

1. U.S. citizens or permanent residents being at least two of the director, writer and producer of the film; OR

2. the film is set primarily in the U.S. and at least 70% financed by American companies.

Add to that the fact that nominations are determined by three small committees of less than 10 people each. In the past we have been told the names of those serving on these committees but now all we know is that they are drawn from “writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, editors, actors, critics, casting directors, film festival programmers and other working film professionals.” Compare that to the selection process for winners in which the entire membership of Film Independent, numbering in the thousands, cast ballots.

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The Weinstein Company has proven adept at qualifying films that would otherwise be ineligible including the Gallic import “The Artist” in 2011 and “Silver Linings Playbook” with a budget of $21 million the following year; both won Best Feature here.

Last year, A24 did likewise with “Room,” an Irish-Canadian co-production filmed in Toronto. However, “Brooklyn” didn’t qualify, despite being set, in part, in America and distributed by powerhouse Fox Searchlight which had last two winners. And neither did “Ex Machina,” which was co-produced by EGOT champ Scott Rudin.

Predict the Oscar nominations now; change them till January 24

Will one of the Indie Spirit contenders win Best Picture at this year’s Oscars? Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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