Image via Film Independent

Golden Rule: Independent Spirit Awards Give The First Look At Real Oscar Contenders

With Oscar Season in full swing we’re taking a look at this weekend’s announcement of the Independent Spirit Awards Nominations. We’ll take a look at what films were nominated, and dive into the connection to the Oscars themselves.

The Independent Spirit Awards or Film Independent Spirit Awards recognize achievement in Independent Film for each year. The films nominated traditionally must be made on a budget of $20 million or less. The nominees are decided by and nominated by members of Film Independent. An organization that helps provide resources for independent film makers. Just about anyone can sign up to be a member of Film Independent, and many high level individuals in the industry now are members of the organization.

This year will be the 34rd annual awards, and in recent years these have been one of the biggest indicators of what will be nominated and what will win come Oscar night. Many of the categories tend to copy over to the Oscars and in the past 7 years, 6 of the Best Picture winner at the Oscars won the Best Feature Award at the Film Independent Awards. A big part of this is probably due to the overlay of members in both groups. But no matter what it gives good reason to pay attention.

The 10 films split between Best Feature and Best First Feature are a rather interesting group. Eight GradeIf Beale Street Could Talk, and Sorry to Bother You have all been heavily mentioned in terms of Oscar hopefuls. But almost every other film has been flying slightly under the radar. Perhaps the biggest surprises are We The Animals, which leads this list of nominations with 5, and Hereditary. Animals has barely been mentioned this year, but this could change things. Hereditary had some excellent word of mouth when it was released earlier this year, and many have been saying it could lead to Toni Collette getting a Best Actress nomination at the Oscars. That seemed a little far fetched at first, but with Collette nominated in the category here, we may see her name pop up when the 91st Academy Awards Nominees are announced on January 22nd.

Here’s the full list of nominees for the 34rd Annual Independent Spirit Awards:


  • Eighth Grade
  • First Reformed
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Leave No Trace
  • You Were Never Really Here


  • Hereditary
  • Sorry to Bother You
  • The Tale
  • We the Animals
  • Wildlife


  • Glenn Close, The Wife
  • Toni Collette, Hereditary
  • Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
  • Regina Hall, Support the Girls
  • Helena Howard, Madeline’s Madeline
  • Carey Mulligan, Wildlife


  • John Cho, Searching
  • Daveed Diggs, Blindspotting
  • Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
  • Christian Malheiros, Socrates
  • Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here

Image via Annapurna Pictures


  • Debra Granik, Leave No Trace
  • Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Tamara Jenkins, Private Life
  • Lynne Ramsay, You Were Never Really Here
  • Paul Schrader, First Reformed


  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening
  • Minding the Gap
  • Of Fathers and Sons
  • On Her Shoulders
  • Shirkers
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor?


  • Raúl Castillo, We the Animals
  • Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
  • Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Josh Hamilton, Eighth Grade
  • John David Washington, Monsters and Men


  • Richard Glatzer (Writer/Story By), Rebecca Lenkiewicz & Wash Westmoreland, Colette
  • Nicole Holofcener & Jeff Whitty, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Tamara Jenkins, Private Life
  • Boots Riley, Sorry to Bother You
  • Paul Schrader, First Reformed


  • Suspiria


  • Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade
  • Christina Choe, Nancy
  • Cory Finley,  Thoroughbreds
  • Jennifer Fox, The Tale
  • Quinn Shephard (Writer/Story By) and Laurie Shephard (Story By), Blame


  • Joe Bini, You Were Never Really Here
  • Keiko Deguchi, Brian A. Kates & Jeremiah Zagar, We the Animals
  • Luke Dunkley, Nick Fenton, Chris Gill & Julian Hart, American Animals
  • Anne Fabini, Alex Hall and Gary Levy, The Tale
  • Nick Houy, Mid90s


  • Debra Granik
  • Tamara Jenkins
  • Karyn Kusama

Image via Netflix


  • Burning (South Korea)
  • The Favourite  (United Kingdom)
  • Happy as Lazzaro (Italy)
  • Roma (Mexico)
  • Shoplifters (Japan)


  • A Bread Factory
  • En el Septimo Dia
  • Never Goin’ Back
  • Socrates
  • Thunder Road


  • Kayli Carter, Private Life
  • Tyne Daly, A Bread Factory
  • Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Leave No Trace
  • Smith-Cameron, Nancy


  • Ashley Connor, Madeline’s Madeline
  • Diego Garcia, Wildlife
  • Benjamin Loeb, Mandy
  • Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Suspiria
  • Zak Mulligan, We the Animals

PRODUCERS AWARD – The 22nd annual Producers Award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

  • Jonathan Duffy and Kelly Williams
  • Gabrielle Nadig
  • Shrihari Sathe

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 25th annual Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

  • Alex Moratto – Director of Sócrates
  • Ioana Uricaru – Director of Lemonade
  • Jeremiah Zagar – Director of We the Animals

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 24th annual Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

  • Alexandria Bombach – Director of On Her Shoulders
  • Bing Liu – Director of Minding the Gap
  • RaMell Ross – Director of Hale County This Morning, This Evening

Keep following Poor Man’s Spoiler for all of our Awards Season coverage. The Independent Spirit Awards will be held on February 23rd 2019, and aired live on IFC.

We The Animals

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