Battle of the indie auteurs at the Spirit Awards: Will the Safdies (‘Uncut Gems’) beat Robert Eggers (‘The Lighthouse’)?

Best Director at the Independent Spirit Awards will be an A24 smackdown according to our predictions: sibling filmmakers Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie (“Uncut Gems”) vs. Robert Eggers (“The Lighthouse”). So who’s got the advantage?

As of this writing the Safdies are the front-runners with leading odds of 16/5. They’re supported by the majority of the Expert journalists we’ve polled from top media outlets as of this writing, almost all of the Editors who cover awards year-round for Gold Derby, 22 of the Top 24 Users who got the highest scores predicting last year’s Spirit Awards, and 21 of the All-Star Top 24 who got the highest scores when you combine prediction results from the last couple of years.

“Uncut Gems” has a leading five nominations at the Spirit Awards. Besides that, the Safdies are darlings at these kudos with a past Best Director nomination for “Good Time” (2017), and they won the John Cassavetes Award for ultra-low-budget filmmaking for “Go Get Some Rosemary” (2010). Benny was even nominated for his acting performance in “Good Time.”

This film is also the Safdies’ biggest awards contender yet beyond the Spirit Awards. It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (Adam Sandler) at the Critics’ Choice Awards. And though the film didn’t end up with any Oscar nominations, this film probably came closest among these Spirit nominees for Best Director, and since winners are decided by anyone who pays $95 per year to be a member of Film Independent, the most Oscar-buzzed nominee in any given category tends to win.

So it’s a done deal for the Safdies, right? Not necessarily. Eggers’s work on “The Lighthouse” is currently predicted to win by Expert Susan King (Gold Derby), Editor Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), two of our Top 24 and one of our All-Stars. The visually audacious “Lighthouse” is arguably the most directed movie in the category, and Eggers is a Spirit Awards fave too, having won Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay for “The Witch” (2016).

And like “Uncut Gems,” “The Lighthouse” is nominated for five Spirit Awards, but unlike “Uncut Gems” it actually does have an Oscar nomination: Best Cinematography. So maybe this is the Oscar-buzzed movie we should be looking to as the Spirit Awards front-runner.

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 8. And join in the fierce debate over the 2020 Spirit Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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