Will ‘Eighth Grade’ continue its underdog surge at the Spirit Awards, or will ‘Beale Street’ run it off the road?

Eighth Grade” didn’t catch on at the Oscars, but for a film that came out back in July 2018 it’s having one heck of a late surge. Bo Burnham won Best First-Time Director at the Directors Guild Awards over heavy favorite Bradley Cooper (“A Star is Born”). And then Burnham shocked again by winning Best Original Screenplay at the Writers Guild Awards over “Green Book,” “Roma” and “Vice.” Could Burnham and company cap that winning streak with a victory at the Independent Spirit Awards on February 23?

When predicting the Spirit Awards, it usually pays to bet on the biggest Oscar contenders in any group of nominees. That’s because winners are decided by members of Film Independent, and any film fans can be members just by paying annual dues, so these awards tend to advantage films with the widest possible reach (like heavily campaigned and promoted Oscar contenders) over more obscure art-house contenders.

This year, however, is a little trickier. The Spirit Awards struck out on their own: for the first time since 2008, none of their nominees for Best Feature are up for the Oscar for Best Picture. Only two of the nominees have any bids at the Oscars at all: “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “First Reformed.” The James Baldwin adaptation “Beale Street” is arguably the highest-profile film in the lineup with its three Oscar noms and what might have been a near-miss in the academy’s top category. It’s also written and directed by Spirit Award-winning “Moonlight” maestro Barry Jenkins, so it’s the film that most of our users are betting on. It gets leading odds of 17/5 with support from five out of nine Expert journalists who have made their picks thus far.

But now that we’ve seen “Eighth Grade” take down bigger Oscar juggernauts, we might want to reevaluate our stance at the Spirit Awards, where we’re ranking it fourth with odds of 9/2. It would be especially delicious revenge for the coming-of-age comedy since the Spirit Awards will be presented the day before the Oscars. So it would be the last hurrah for the film this awards season. Gucci!

Be sure to make your Indie Spirit predictions so that Hollywood studio executives and top name stars can see how their films are faring in our odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on February 23. And join in the fierce debate over the 2019 Spirit Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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