The day before the Academy Awards each year, the Independent Spirit Awards are held, obstensibly to give a moment in the sun to the more indie films out there. This year however, both groups has by and large focused on similar groups of movies. No, the Spirit Awards didn’t nominate Gravity (the budget missed the cutoff by about $100 million or so), but the Oscars didn’t really look to many of the non prestige independent contenders out there either. Even the somewhat conservative musings that I do for this pseudo precursor turned out to be too bold this time around. Regardless of that though, we have this show in a less than a day/a matter of hours now, so it pays to speculate on who and what might be about to win.
In case you don’t know/don’t remember what won last year, here’s a quick recap of the major categories: Best Feature went to Silver Linings Playbook, Best Director went to David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook, Best Screenplay also went to Russell, Best Male Lead went to John Hawkes for The Sessions, Best Female Lead went to Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook, Best Supporting Male went to Matthew McConaughey for Magic Mike, and Best Supporting Female went to Helen Hunt for The Sessions. There’s not a whole lot to be taken from this, but it’s worth sharing in advance of trying to predict this year’s group, so there you go.
I’ll have full predictions below (prepare for them to be very wrong), but right now I’ll get into the biggest categories in more detail, starting with Best Feature. By the by, the Robert Altman Award this year is going to Mud, so there’s no competition there, just as an FYI. Anyway, here we go…
Best Feature is their big category, and it’s a lineup that favors some Oscar favorites, namely 12 Years a Slave and Nebraska. They’re the frontrunners here, with Inside Llewyn Davis the potential spoiler. That leaves All is Lost and Frances Ha (Mark Johnson’s favorite movie of all time) just happy to be cited. I could see Nebraska taking it, but when in doubt…go with the most likely Oscar winner here, and that’s 12 Years a Slave.
Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
Could Win: Nebraska
Should Win: Inside Llewyn Davis
With Best Director, there’s often the potential for a split from Feature, unlike with the Academy. That being said, I’m not going to predict one here, so that gives the win to Steve McQueen. J.C. Chandor and Alexander Payne are the other nominees cited here that have their movies up for Feature as well, so take note of them. Shane Carruth and Jeff Nichols are long shots. Honestly, I think McQueen might win this one regardless of what happens in Feature.
Will Win: Steve McQueen
Could Win: Alexander Payne
Should Win: Steve McQueen
Best Male Lead is my favorite category this year for the Spirit Awards, since they rightly nominated six men from the ridiculously crowded field that was 2013. Still, the end result should mirror Oscar with Matthew McConaughey taking it, but you can’t count out Bruce Dern or Chiwetel Ejiofor at all. Oscar Isaac even could pull the upset, likely leaving Michael B. Jordan and Robert Redford forced to be happy with consolation prizes. In the end, I’m sticking with McConaughey, who won the Supporting Male prize last year.
Will Win: Matthew McConaughey
Could Win: Bruce Dern
Should Win: Oscar Isaac
In the Best Female Lead field, it seems all but certain that Cate Blanchett will win the Oscar, so it’s possible that the Spirit voters will want to go in the other direction and bestow this prize on either Brie Larson or Shailene Woodley. They also could go with Julie Delpy, so Blanchett, while the frontrunner, will sweat this one out a bit. Gaby Hoffman isn’t a threat to her, but everyone else is. I’ll play it conservative here too though and give Blanchett the win.
Will Win: Cate Blanchett
Could Win: Brie Larson
Should Win: Shailene Woodley
Best Supporting Male also looks likely to mirror the Academy Awards, especially since Jared Leto is exactly the type of nominee that tends to win with the Spirits. Michael Fassbender, Will Forte, James Gandolfini, and Keith Stanfield would all be fine winners in any other year, but I can’t see these voters passing up Leto here.
Will Win: Jared Leto
Could Win: Keith Stanfield
Should Win: Will Forte
For the Best Supporting Female category, we have Sally Hawkins, Lupita Nyong’o, and June Squibb going at it for this award, but we can all see that it’s really between Nyong’o and Squibb, and the former is the frontrunner. Melonie Diaz and Yolanda Ross are just happy to be nominated, and in the end, I think Nyong’o holds off Squibb from pulling off an upset.
Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o
Could Win: June Squibb
Should Win: June Squibb
Best Screenplay seems like a 12 Years a Slave lock here, though if an upset is happening, it’s either going to be in favor of Before Midnight or The Spectacular Now. Fellow nominees Blue Jasmine and Enough Said are taking a back seat to those three, but the likely Oscar winner should take it here.
Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
Could Win: Before Midnight
Should Win: The Spectacular Now
On the flip side, Best First Screenplay seems like less of a lock, though the frontrunner has to be Nebraska. I feel comfortable in saying that Afternoon Delight and The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete won’t win, so the competition here is Don Jon and In a World…, both of which could pull off a small upset. I won’t predict it, but it could happen.
Will Win: Nebraska
Could Win: Don Jon
Should Win: Don Jon
Finally, we have Best First Feature. This one looks like a Fruitvale Station lock to me. Blue Caprice, Concussion, Una Noche, and Wadjda are the competition here, and while any could be the upset special, the smart money has the most mainstream and best known of the group pulling out the win.
Will Win: Fruitvale Station
Could Win: Wadjda
Should Win: Fruitvale Station
Here now are my Spirit Award predictions for the other categories, sans commentary:
John Cassavetes Award
Will Win: Computer Chess
Could Win: Crystal Fairy
Should Win: This is Martin Bonner
Will Win: Inside Llewyn Davis
Could Win: 12 Years a Slave
Should Win: Inside Llewyn Davis
Will Win: Upstream Color
Could Win: Frances Ha
Should Win: Short Term 12
Will Win: 20 Feet from Stardom
Could Win: The Act of Killing
Should Win: After Tiller
Best International Film
Will Win: The Great Beauty
Could Win: The Hunt
Should Win: Blue is the Warmest Color
Stay tuned to see what happens on Saturday night. My predictions here honestly don’t usually go too well, but with the Academy Awards on Sunday so open-ended, perhaps I’ll wind up doing better here? Who knows, but we’ll find out just a day or so now…
–Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!