'12 Years a Slave' and 'Nebraska' Are Brimming with Indie Spirit

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The Film Independent Spirit Award nominations were announced Tuesday afternoon, kicking off a feverish, hysterical, and wildly over-funded few months of movie awards. While the Spirits announce their nominees before almost anyone else, they're one of the last ceremonies to actually declare winners, setting up shop on the beach in Santa Monica, the day before the Academy Awards.

While many of the nominated films lie in that middle ground between studio-funded behemoths and "true" indies, we still avoided a Weinstein apocalypse, given that neither Lee Daniels' The Butler nor August: Osage County showed up among the nominees, despite the fact that Harvey Weinstein has historically been able to shove over-budget and overly-star-studded films into Spirit contention before.

As expected, 12 Years a Slave, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Nebraska were the big nomination-getters, joined by the usual left-field entrants and protected categories for micro-budgeted films and debuts. A roundup:


  • 12 Years a Slave
  • All Is Lost
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Frances Ha
  • Nebraska


  • Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
  • Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
  • Alexander Payne, Nebraska
  • Jeff Nichols, Mud
  • JC Chandor, All Is Lost

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So a 3/5 match between Picture and Director, meaning the Coen brothers and Noah Baumbach can sit home and stew on Oscar eve. In fact, despite a Best Feature nomination for Frances Ha, all the component parts that made it so great -- Baumbach, Greta Gerwig, their screenplay -- were left unnominated. Nichols, as I mentioned in the Spirits preview, gets his second consecutive nomination after Take Shelter.


  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
  • Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
  • Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
  • Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis)
  • Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station)
  • Robert Redford (All Is Lost)

I suspected that the Spirits might leave off Redford in order to make room for guys like Oscar Isaac and Michael B. Jordan. Turns out, they just extended the category to six names. Still leaves off great performances like Isaiah Washington's in Blue Caprice, though.


  • Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
  • Brie Larson (Short Term 12)
  • Julie Delpy (Before Midnight)
  • Shailene Woodley (The Spectacular Now)
  • Gaby Hoffman (Crystal Fairy)

The biggest, goofiest, and perhaps best nomination of the whole slate is Gaby Hoffman's, even if she did have to bump off the likes of Gerwig, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Kathryn Hahn to get there. Blanchett should take this home easily, but it's a fine bit of recognition for young actresses like Woodley and Larson.


  • Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
  • Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  • James Gandolfini (Enough Said)
  • Keith Stanfield (Short Term 12)
  • Will Forte (Nebraska)

Leto and Fassbender will duel it out for the Oscar as well. A posthumous nod for Gandolfini is more than deserved, and this might not be the last time his name is read on nomination day this season. Forte's nomination is a surprise, not because Nebraska isn't a Spirits fave (clearly, it is), but because his character wasn't that much more than a support beam for his co-stars.


  • Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
  • Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
  • Melonie Diaz (Fruitvale Station
  • Yolonda Ross (Go for Sisters)
  • June Squibb (Nebraska)

Turns out, I was right to think that Melonie Diaz would edge out her co-star Octavia Spencer for a nomination. This feels like Nyong'o's award to lose, but considering how over the moon this group of voters clearly was for Nebraska, Squibb could give her a run for her money. Yolonda Ross was a hugely unexpected name to show up on this list, giving John Sayles's latest film a bit of needed recognition.


  • Fruitvale Station
  • Concussion
  • Blue Caprice
  • Una Noche
  • Wadjda


  • Blue is the Warmest Color
  • Gloria
  • The Great Beauty
  • The Hunt
  • A Touch of Sin


  • 20 Feet From Stardom
  • The Act of Killing
  • After Tiller
  • Gideon's Army
  • The Square


  • Woody AllenBlue Jasmine
  • Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
  • Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said
  • Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, The Spectacular Now
  • John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave

Best First Screenplay

  • Lake Bell, In A World
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don Jon
  • Bob Nelson, Nebraska
  • Jill Soloway, Afternoon Delight
  • Michael Starrbury, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (best feature made for under $500,000)

  • Computer Chess
  • Crystal Fairy
  • Museum Hours
  • Pit Stop
  • This is Martin Bonner


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.