Indie Spirits Awards nominations: ‘Carol’ leads with 6, ‘Beasts of No Nation’ has 5

Nominations for the 31st annual edition of the Indie Spirit Awards were announced on Tuesday. Only American feature film nominees with budgets of under $20 million are eligible for these awards. Among this year’s leading Oscar contenders, “Carol,” “Beasts of No Nation,” “Anomalisa,” “Spotlight” and “Room” figure prominently in these precursor prizes. (See full list of nominations here)

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The Weinstein Company did well with “Carol” as it reaped six nominations: Best Feature, as well as director (Todd Haynes), leads Cate Blanchett and  Rooney Mara, screenplay and cinematography.

Netflix scored five bids for “Beasts of No Nation”: Best Feature, a pair for director/lenser Cary Joji Fukunaga, lead Abraham Attah and supporting player Idris Elba.

Open Road, which saw “Spotlight” expand nicely last weekend, now has four nominations to tout in next weekend’s ads: feature, director & screenplay (Tom McCarthy) and editing. In addition, its cast is to receive the the Robert Altman award.

Paramount’s pick-up “Anomalisa” is vying for four awards as well: best feature, Charlie Kaufman shares in a directing nomination (with Duke Johnson) and is nominated for screenplay too and Jennifer Jason Leigh reaped a supporting bid for her voice work.   

While “Tangerine,” which was shot on iPhones, reaped four bids (feature, director Sean Baker, lead actress Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and supporting player Mya Taylor) it is not contending for the John Cassavetes award that is given to films costing less than half a million dollars to make. 

A24’s “Room” did not do as well as we expected, with nominations only for lead actress (Brie Larson), first screenplay and editing. However, distributor A24 got a nice consolation prize with a pair of nominations for “End of the Tour” (actor Jason Segel, screenplay) as well as a bid for “Mississippi Grind” star Ben Mendelsohn and a Cassavetes nomination for “Krisha.” 

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A slew of top Oscar contenders from abroad — including “The Danish Girl,” “45 Years,” “Suffragette” and “Youth” — can’t compete here save for the International award. While none of these made the cut for that prize, Sony Pictures Classics foreign-language Oscar frontrunner “Son of Saul” did. 

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. For the last two years running, the winner of Best Feature at Saturday’s Indies — “12 Years a Slave” and “Birdman” respectively — went on to claim the top Oscar on Sunday. And seven of the eight acting Academy Awards champs first prevailed here. Only “Birdman” star Michael Keaton didn’t get an Oscar to keep his Spirit Award company as Eddie Redmanyne (“The Theory of Everything”) won the Academy Award. 

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