It’s ‘Birdman’ vs. ‘Boyhood’ in Indie Spirit Award Nominations

“Birdman” leads with six nominations; “Boyhood,” “Selma” and “Nightcrawler” land five

Last Updated: November 25, 2014 @ 11:02 AM

Oscar hopefuls “Birdman” and “Boyhood” will be squaring off at the Film Independent Spirit Awards the day before the Academy Awards, with both films landing in the Best Feature category in nominations.

Other films that will be competing for the top prize are  “Selma,” “Love Is Strange” and “Whiplash,” Rosario Dawson and Diego Luna announced on Tuesday morning at the W Hotel in Hollywood.

“Birdman” led all films with six nominations, followed by “Boyhood,” “Nightcrawler” and “Selma” with five and “Whiplash” and “Love is Strange” with four.

The nominations were inadvertently posted online before the announcement began, and then quickly pulled down.

As usual for the Spirit Awards in recent years, they featured a large number of Oscar contenders along with a few more idiosyncratic choices.

“Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “Selma” and “Whiplash” are all strong Oscar contenders, as are actor nominees Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) and David Oyelowo (“Selma”), actress nominee Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) and supporting nominees J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”), Edward Norton and Emma Stone (“Birdman”), Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) and Jessica Chastain (“A Most Violent Year”).

Other acting nominations went to Alfred Molina and John Lithgow for “Love Is Strange,” Marion Cotillard for “The Immigrant,” Andre Benjamin for “Jimi: All Is By My Side,” Jake Gyllenhaal for “Nightcrawler,” Jenny Slate for “Obvious Child” and Andrea Suarez Paz for “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors.”

At last year’s Spirit Awards, for the first time ever all four acting winners went on to repeat at the Oscars — a feat that could conceivably happen again this year, with Keaton, Moore, Simmons and Arquette all considered frontrunners in their categories.

Two films landed special awards. Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice,” which wasn’t eligible for other awards because of its budget, was named recipient of the Robert Altman Award, which goes to a film’s director, cast and casting director, while Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” was given a Special Distinction Award for its director, producers, writers and cast.

The awards gave a boost to Dan Gilroy’s dark and tough “Nightcrawler” and to Ira Sachs’ “Love Is Strange,” among others.

Spirit Award nominations are made by small committees, a process that often results in lesser-known films edging out more prominent contenders. This year’s biggest shockers included the Best Director nomination for David Zellner for the small-budgeted indie “Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter,” which also landed a Lead Female nomination for Rinko Kikuchi.

While the rules for eligibility are known to be flexible, the rule of thumb is that they must be made for less than $20 million, must be American-made and must be released by an independent company rather than a major studio.

The budget requirement eliminated “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” from Spirit Awards favorite Wes Anderson, but “Selma” qualified despite the fact that it is being released by Paramount Pictures.

The nominations for Best International Film included one English-language movie, Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin,” along with five Oscar foreign-language entries: Poland’s “Ida,” Sweden’s “Force Majeure,” Russia’s “Leviathan,” Canada’s “Mommy” and the Philippines’ four-hour “Norte, the End of History.”

The other major award for independent film, the New York-based Gotham Independent Film Awards, nominated “Boyhood,” “Birdman,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Love Is Strange” and “Under the Skin” for its top award last month.

Last year, only two of the five Spirit nominees for Best Feature went on to receive Oscar nominations for Best Picture — but one of those two, “12 Years a Slave,” was the big winner at both ceremonies, becoming only the third film to score those back-to-back victories.

In fact, the same film or person won in seven of the 11 categories that are handed out at both the Spirit Awards and the Oscars — including, for the first time ever, all four acting winners. (They were Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto for “Dallas Buyers Club,” Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine” and Lupita Nyong’o for “12 Years a Slave.”)

In three of the four categories where the voters disagreed, the Oscar winner was the big-budget film “Gravity,” which wasn’t eligible for the Spirit Awards — and in the fourth, the French film “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” which wasn’t submitted to the Oscars, beat Oscar winner “The Great Beauty” for Best International Feature.

The winners have overlapped three times, but two of those have taken place in the last three years, with “Slave” last year and “The Artist” in 2011. (The other was “Platoon” in 1986.)

2015 FILM INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARD NOMINATIONS

BEST FEATURE 
(Award given to the Producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Producers: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole

Boyhood
Producers: Richard Linklater, Jonathan Sehring, John Sloss, Cathleen Sutherland

Love is Strange
Producers: Lucas Joaquin, Lars Knudsen, Ira Sachs, Jayne Baron Sherman, Jay Van Hoy

Selma
Producers: Christian Colson, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Oprah Winfrey

Whiplash
Producers: Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, David Lancaster, Michael Litvak

BEST DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle

Whiplash
Ava DuVernay 
Selma
Alejandro G. Iñárritu 
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater
 Boyhood
David Zellner
 Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

BEST SCREENPLAY
Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski

Big Eyes
J.C. Chandor 
A Most Violent Year
Dan Gilroy 
Nightcrawler
Jim Jarmusch
 Only Lovers Left Alive
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias
 Love is Strange

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Producers: Justin Begnaud, Sina Sayyah

Dear White People
Director/Producer: Justin Simien
Producers: Effie T. Brown, Ann Le, Julia Lebedev, Angel Lopez, Lena Waithe

Nightcrawler
Director: Dan Gilroy
Producers: Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak

Obvious Child
Director: Gillian Robespierre
Producer: Elisabeth Holm

She’s Lost Control
Director/Producer: Anja Marquardt
Producers: Mollye Asher, Kiara C. Jones

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Desiree Akhavan

Appropriate Behavior
Sara Colangelo 
Little Accidents
Justin Lader
 The One I Love
Anja Marquardt
 She’s Lost Control
Justin Simien
 Dear White People

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000.  Award given to the writer, director and producer.  Executive Producers are not awarded.
Blue Ruin
Writer/Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Producers:  Richard Peete, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani

It Felt Like Love
Writer/Director/Producer: Eliza Hittman
Producers: Shrihari Sathe, Laura Wagner

Land Ho!
Writers/Directors: Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens
Producers: Christina Jennings, Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy

Man From Reno
Writer/Director: Dave Boyle
Writers: Joel Clark, Michael Lerman
Producer: Ko Mori

Test
Writer/Director/Producer: Chris Mason Johnson
Producer: Chris Martin

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Marion Cotillard

The Immigrant
Rinko Kikuchi
 Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Julianne Moore 
Still Alice
Jenny Slate
 Obvious Child
Tilda Swinton
 Only Lovers Left Alive                    

BEST MALE LEAD
André Benjamin

Jimi: All Is By My Side
Jake Gyllenhaal
 Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton
 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
John Lithgow
 Love is Strange
David Oyelowo 
Selma

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Patricia Arquette

Boyhood
Jessica Chastain
 A Most Violent Year
Carmen Ejogo 
Selma
Andrea Suarez Paz
 Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Emma Stone
 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Riz Ahmed

Nightcrawler
Ethan Hawke
 Boyhood
Alfred Molina
 Love is Strange
Edward Norton
 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
J.K. Simmons 
Whiplash

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Darius Khondji

The Immigrant
Emmanuel Lubezki 
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Sean Porter
 It Felt Like Love
Lyle Vincent 
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Bradford Young
 Selma

BEST EDITING
Sandra Adair 

Boyhood
Tom Cross
 Whiplash
John Gilroy  
Nightcrawler
Ron Patane 
A Most Violent Year
Adam Wingard 
The Guest

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)
20,000 Days on Earth
Directors: Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard
Producers: Dan Bowen, James Wilson

CITIZENFOUR
Director/Producer: Laura Poitras
Producers: Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky

Stray Dog
Director: Debra Granik
Producer: Anne Rosellini

The Salt of the Earth
Directors: Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders
Producer: David Rosier

Virunga
Director/Producer: Orlando von Einsiedel
Producer: Joanna Natasegara

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)
Force Majeure
(Sweden)
Director: Ruben Ã-stlund

Ida
(Poland)
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski

Leviathan
(Russia)
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Mommy
(Canada)
Director: Xavier Dolan

Norte, the End of History
(Philippines)
Director: Lav Diaz

Under the Skin
(United Kingdom)
Director: Jonathan Glazer

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – (Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast)
Inherent Vice
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Casting Director: Cassandra Kulukundis
Ensemble Cast: Josh Brolin, Martin Donovan, Jena Malone, Joanna Newsom, Joaquin Phoenix, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short Serena Scott Thomas, Benicio Del Toro, Katherine Waterston, Michael Kenneth Williams, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon

SPECIAL DISTINCTION AWARD
Foxcatcher
Director/Producer: Bennett Miller
Producers: Anthony Bregman, Megan Ellison, Jon Kilik
Writers: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman
Actors: Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum

18th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 18th annual Producers Award, sponsored by Piaget, 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 funded by Piaget.
Chad Burris
Elisabeth Holm
Chris Ohlson

21st ANNUAL KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 21st annual Someone to Watch Award, sponsored by Kiehl’s Since 1851, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition.  The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
H.
Directors: Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia
The Retrieval
Director: Chris Eska

20th ANNUAL LENSCRAFTERS TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 20th annual Truer Than Fiction Award, sponsored by LensCrafters 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 funded by LensCrafters.
Approaching the Elephant
Director: Amanda Rose Wilder
Evolution of a Criminal
Director: Darius Clark Monroe
The Kill Team
Director: Dan Krauss
The Last Season 
Director: Sara Dosa