“The Lost Daughter” was the big winner, but the 2022 Film Independent Spirit Awards will also be remembered as the year that the Indie Spirits moved away from the Oscars in more ways than one.
After decades as the show that takes place the Saturday afternoon before the Academy Awards (or, a couple of times, two or three days before the Oscars), the Spirit Awards moved to a Sunday three weeks earlier, with Film Independent president Josh Welsh explaining, “Shifting earlier in the awards season will allow us to shine an even brighter light on the films and shows we are excited to celebrate.”
The move was considered an attempt to influence awards season more than it could in its usual spot, which takes place after Oscar voting has stopped; this year, the Spirit Awards showcased its favorites before Academy voters could even begin casting their ballots.
But the date change didn’t really matter, because the Indie Spirit Awards’ connection to and influence on the Oscars has never been more minimal. And that’s likely to be true even though a few of Sunday‘s winners – supporting actor Troy Kotsur, documentary feature “Summer of Soul” and international film “Drive My Car” – will likely repeat at the Oscars in three weeks.
Nothing will come out of the Spirit Awards with awards-season momentum that it didn’t already have – because this year’s Spirit nominations were so singular, and so independent, that Academy members couldn’t vote for them if they wanted to. (They could have voted for these films and people in the nomination round of voting, of course, but they didn’t.)
With not a single Best Feature or Best Director nominee also nominated for the equivalent Oscars, only two acting nominees in common in the four categories and only seven nominees overall (three of them in the documentary category), this is the lowest overlap in history between the Spirit Award and the Oscars.
Still, one thing didn’t change: If voters in a category had an Oscar nominee they could vote for, they did, starting with Best Supporting Male winner Troy Kotsur from “CODA” and continuing with Maggie Gyllenhaal for her “The Lost Daughter” screenplay and “Drive My Car” for international film. (The one exception came in supporting female, where Ruth Negga won for “Passing” over the Oscar-nominated Jessie Buckley for “The Lost Daughter.”)
And in the category with three Oscar nominees, Best Documentary, the award went to the one most likely to win that award, “Summer of Soul.”
Overall, the Spirit Awards provided a nice spotlight for Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter,” which also won big at the other major award for independent film, the Gotham Awards; it gave a boost in visibility to “Zola,” which won for lead actress Taylour Paige and editor Joi McMillon; and it provided “Red Rocket” star Simon Rex with the moment on an awards stage he has richly deserved all season and won’t have the opportunity to get at the Dolby Theatre in three weeks.
Then again, the 2022 Indie Spirits did have one big thing in common with the Oscars, although they kept quiet about it ahead of time: Awards for cinematography, film editing and international film were handed out during commercial breaks rather than on the live telecast and edited into the broadcast. The international presentation in particular was rushed, coming as it did during the final commercial of the show.
And maybe the Oscars had better worry — because even with those categories handed out off the air, the ceremony ran significantly overtime.