The 36th Independent Spirit Awards aired Thursday, April 22 on IFC in a virtual ceremony hosted by Melissa Villaseñor (“Saturday Night Live”). (Read our live blog to see how it all went down.) By the end of the evening, “Nomadland” had emerged as the biggest winner with four trophies: Best Picture, Best Director (Chloe Zhao), Best Film Editing (Zhao) and Best Cinematography (Joshua James Richards). With the Oscars just three days away, can we expect “Nomadland” to prevail there as well in all of these crucial categories?
The Searchlight film about a woman (Frances McDormand) who travels the country in her van searching for work beat out fellow Spirit nominees “First Cow,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Minari” and “Never Rarely Sometimes Always.” At the Oscars, “Nomadland” is Gold Derby’s pick to win Best Picture after claiming recent prizes at the Golden Globes, PGA Awards, DGA Awards and BAFTA. Keep in mind that the last movie to win Best Picture at the Spirits and the Oscars was “Moonlight” (2016), with other recent double-champs being “Spotlight” (2015), “Birdman” (2014), “12 Years a Slave” (2013) and “The Artist” (2011). “Nomadland’s” Oscar rivals are “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “Minari,” “Promising Young Woman,” “The Father,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Mank” and “Sound of Metal.”
Zhao, who’s been undefeated for directing throughout this entire awards derby, was the favorite to win Best Director at the Spirits over Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”), Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”), Eliza Hittman (“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”) and Kelly Reichardt (“First Cow”). Her Oscar competition includes Chung and Fennell as well as David Fincher (“Mank”) and Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”).
Similarly, Zhao was the odds-on front-runner to win Best Film Editing at the Spirits over Andy Canny (“The Invisible Man”), Scott Cummings (“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”), Merawi Gerima (“Residue”) and Enat Sidi (“I Carry You with Me”). However, at the Academy Awards she has tougher competition and is expected to lose the editing prize to either Mikkel E.G. Nielsen (“Sound of Metal”) or Alan Baumgarten (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”).
Richards prevailed at the Spirits over fellow cinematography nominees Jay Keitel (“She Dies Tomorrow”), Shabier Kirchner (“Bull”), Michael Latham (“The Assistant”) and Hélène Louvart (“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”). He is likely to repeat this victory on Sunday night, per our odds, despite losing last week’s ASC guild award to Erik Messerschmidt (“Mank”).
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