How independent have the Spirit Awards winners been compared to Oscars? You might be surprised

The Film Independent Spirit Awards began in 1984 as a way to shine a spotlight on smaller art-house movies that often were made on a shoestring budget and came from entities outside the major studios. From its inception as an alternative to the likes of the Academy Awards, titles that were eligible have been required to have a budget cap of $20 million, although exceptions could be made. It is also a more populist organization. While a select group of committee members choose the nominees, anyone who can afford to pay a yearly $95 fee can vote on the final outcomes online.

With Friday morning’s announcement of this year’s slate of Spirit contenders (see the full list of nominees here), it is as good a time as any to investigate just how independent these awards are these days.

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The Spirit Awards aren’t a perfect bellwether for which titles and talent will compete for Oscars. Nor should they be. But in the past 10 years both groups chose the same winning lead actress 60% of the time. They picked the same film and supporting actress 50% of the time. And their lead actor and supporting actor choices lined up 40% of the time since 2008.

The biggest discrepancy between their picks seems to be with directors. They only agreed once in the past decade: both gave French director Michel Hazanavicius their helming prizes for his 2011 silent film “The Artist.” Let’s see how often the Academy Awards and their spunkier low-budget counterpart have agreed upon the honorees in similar categories in the past 10 years. (Overlaps are highlighted in bold.)


FEATURE/ PICTURE — Spirit: “The Wrestler”; Oscar: “Slumdog Millionaire”

DIRECTOR – Spirit: Tom McCarthy, “The Visitor”; Oscar: Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”

ACTRESS – Spirit: Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”; Kate Winslet, “The Reader”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS — Spirit: Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”; Oscar: Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”

ACTOR — Spirit: “Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”; Oscar: Sean Penn, “Milk”

SUPPORTING ACTOR — Spirit: James Franco, “Milk”; Oscar: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”


FEATURE/ PICTURE — Spirit: “Precious”; Oscar: “The Hurt Locker”

DIRECTOR – Spirit: Lee Daniels, “Precious”; Oscar: Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”

ACTRESS – Spirit: Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”; Oscar: Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Spirit: Mo’Nique, “Precious”; Oscar: Mo’Nique, “Precious”

ACTOR — Spirit: Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”; Oscar: Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”

SUPPORTING ACTOR – Spirit: Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”; Oscar: Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”


FEATURE/ PICTURE – Spirit: “Black Swan”; Oscar: “The King’s Speech”

DIRECTOR – Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”; Oscar: Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”

ACTRESS – Spirit: Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”; Oscar: Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS — Spirit: Dale Dickey “Winter’s Bone”; Oscar: Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”

ACTOR — Spirit: James Franco, “127 Hours”; Oscar: Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”

SUPPORTING ACTOR – Spirit: John Hawkes, “Winter’s Bone”; Oscar: Christian Bale, “The Fighter”


BEST FEATURE/ PICTURE — Spirit: “The Artist”; Oscar: “The Artist”

DIRECTOR – Spirit: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”; Oscar: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”

ACTRESS – Spirit: Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”; Oscar: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS — Spirit: Shailene Woodley, “The Descendants”; Oscar: Octavia Spencer, “The Help”

ACTOR — Spirit: Jean DuJardin, “The Artist”; Oscar: Jean DuJardin, “The Artist”

SUPPORTING ACTOR — Spirit: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”; Oscar: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”


BEST FEATURE/PICTURE – Spirit: “Silver Linings Playbook”; Oscar: “Argo”

DIRECTOR – Spirit: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook”; Oscar: Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”

ACTRESS – Spirit: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”; Oscar: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS — Spirit: Helen Hunt,“The Sessions”; Oscar: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”

ACTOR — Spirit: John Hawkes; “The Sessions; Oscar: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”

SUPPORTING ACTOR – Spirit: Matthew McConaughey, “Magic Mike”; Oscar: Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained


FEATURE/PICTURE — Spirit: “12 Years a Slave”; Oscar: “12 Years a Slave”

DIRECTOR – Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”; Oscar: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”

ACTRESS – Spirit: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”; Oscar: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS — Spirit: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”; Oscar: Lupita Nyong’o,“12 Years a Slave”

ACTOR — Spirit: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”; Oscar: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

SUPPORTING ACTOR –– Spirit: Jarod Leto,”Dallas Buyers Club”; Oscar: Jarod Leto, Dallas Buyers Club”


FILM/PICTURE — Spirit: “Birdman”; Oscar: “Birdman”

DIRECTOR – Spirit: Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”; Oscar: Alejandro G. Inarritu, “Birdman”

ACTRESS – Spirit: Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”; Oscar: Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS — Spirit: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”; Oscar: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

ACTOR — Spirit: Michael Keaton, “Birdman”; Oscar: Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

SUPPORTING ACTOR – Spirit: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”; Oscar: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”


FEATURE/PICTURE – Spirit: “Spotlight”; Oscar: “Spotlight”

DIRECTOR – Spirit: Tom McCarthy,” Spotlight”; Oscar: Oscar: Alejandro G. Inarritu, “The Revenant”

ACTRESS – Spirit: Brie Larson, “Room”; Oscar: Brie Larson,” Room”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS — Spirit: Mya Taylor, “Tangerine”; Oscar: Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”

ACTOR — Spirit: Abraham Attah, “Beasts of No Nation”; Oscar: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

SUPPORTING ACTOR – Spirit: Idris Elba, “Beasts of No Nation”; Oscar: Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”


FEATURE/PICTURE – Spirit: “Moonlight”; Oscar: “Moonlight”

DIRECTOR: Spirit: Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”; Oscar: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”

ACTRESS – Spirit: Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”; Oscar: Emma Stone, “La La Land”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS — Spirit: Molly Shannon, “Other People”; Oscar: Viola Davis, “Fences”

ACTOR — Spirit: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”; Oscar: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”

SUPPORTING ACTOR – Spirit: Ben Foster, “Hell or High Water”; Oscar: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”


FEATURE/PICTURE – Spirit: “Get Out”; Oscar: “The Shape of Water”

DIRECTOR – Spirit: Jordan Peele, “Get Out”; Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”

ACTRESS – Spirit: Frances McDormand,“ Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri “; Oscar: Frances McDormand,“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS — Spirit: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”; Oscar: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”

ACTOR — Spirit: Timothee Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name; Oscar: Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

SUPPORTING ACTOR – Spirit: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”; Oscar: Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

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