The 2020 Film Independent Spirit Award Nominees for Your Consideration

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Photo Source: Casi Moss/A24

Announced with due ceremony by Zazie Beetz and Natasha Lyonne at the LINE Hotel in Los Angeles Nov. 21, the nominees for the 35th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards have brought much-deserved recognition to some of 2019’s most spirited indies.

READ: In Light of the Film Independent Spirit Noms, What Is an ‘Indie’ Awards Contender, Anyway?

Hollywood—and, by extension, the arts today—needs the kind of visionaries honored by the nonprofit organization in order to continue advancing the craft and impact of filmmaking. Presented each year on the day prior to the Academy Awards (in a tent on the beach at Santa Monica!), the Spirit Awards provide a glimpse at the filmmakers of tomorrow and, often, a refreshing alternative definition of what makes an awards contender. Unlike the Oscars, films without a theatrical release that have screened at prestigious festivals are eligible for the Spirit Awards; films must be classified as American-made, and a loose budget ceiling is enforced, this year upped to $22.5 million.

Below is the full list of Spirit Award nominees competing for prizes or receiving special honors. Tune in to the Aubrey Plaza–hosted ceremony Feb. 8, 2020, to be broadcast live exclusively on IFC.

BEST FEATURE
(Award given to the producers)

“A Hidden Life”
Producers: Elisabeth Bentley, Dario Bergesio, Grant Hill, Josh Jeter

“Clemency”
Producers: Timur Bekbosunov, Julian Cautherley, Bronwyn Cornelius,
Peter Wong

“The Farewell”
Producers: Anita Gou, Daniele Melia, Andrew Miano, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Lulu Wang, Chris Weitz, Jane Zheng

“Marriage Story”
Producers: Noah Baumbach, David Heyman

“Uncut Gems”
Producers: Eli Bush, Sebastian Bear McClard, Scott Rudin

BEST FIRST FEATURE
(Award given to the director and producers)

“Booksmart”
Director: Olivia Wilde
Producers: Chelsea Barnard, David
Distenfeld, Jessica Elbaum, Megan Ellison, Katie Silberman

“The Climb”
Director: Michael Angelo Covino
Producers: Noah Lang, Kyle Marvin

“Diane”
Director: Kent Jones
Producers: Luca Borghese, Ben Howe, Caroline Kaplan, Oren Moverman

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”
Director/producer: Joe Talbot
Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Khaliah Neal, Christina Oh

“The Mustang”
Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
Producer: Ilan Goldman

“See You Yesterday”
Director: Stefon Bristol
Producer: Spike Lee

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
(For the best feature made for under $500,000, given to the writer, director, and producers)

“Burning Cane”
Writer/director/producer: Phillip Youmans
Producers: Ojo Akinlana, Jakob Johnson,
Karen Kaia Livers, Mose Mayer, Wendell Pierce, Isaac Web, Cassandra Youmans

“Colewell”
Writer/director: Tom Quinn
Producers: Joshua Blum, Alexandra Byer,
Craig Shilowich, Matthew Thurm

“Give Me Liberty”
Writer/director/producer: Kirill
Mikhanovsky
Writer/producer: Alice Austen
Producers: Val Abel, Wally Hall, Michael Manasseri, George Rush, Sergey Shtern

“Premature”
Writer/director/producer: Rashaad Ernesto Green
Writer: Zora Howard
Producers: Darren Dean, Joy Ganes

“Wild Nights With Emily”
Writer/director/producer: Madeleine Olnek
Producers: Anna Margarita Albelo, Casper Andreas, Max Rifkind-Barron

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Karen Allen, “Colewell”
Hong Chau, “Driveways”
Elisabeth Moss, “Her Smell”
Mary Kay Place, “Diane”
Renée Zellweger, “Judy”
Alfre Woodard, “Clemency”

BEST MALE LEAD
Chris Galust, “Give Me Liberty”
Kelvin Harrison Jr., “Luce”
Robert Pattinson, “The Lighthouse”
Adam Sandler, “Uncut Gems”
Matthias Schoenaerts, “The Mustang”

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”
Taylor Russell, “Waves”
Zhao Shuzhen, “The Farewell”
Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, “Give Me Liberty”
Octavia Spencer, “Luce”

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Willem Dafoe, “The Lighthouse”
Noah Jupe, “Honey Boy”
Shia LaBeouf, “Honey Boy”
Jonathan Majors, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”
Wendell Pierce, “Burning Cane”

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
(Award given to one film’s director, casting director, and cast)

“Marriage Story”
Director: Noah Baumbach
Casting directors: Douglas Aibel, Francine Maisler
Cast: Alan Alda, Laura Dern, Adam Driver, Julie Hagerty, Scarlett Johansson, Ray Liotta, Azhy Robertson, Merritt Wever

BEST DIRECTOR
Robert Eggers, “The Lighthouse”
Alma Har’el, “Honey Boy”
Julius Onah, “Luce”
Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, “Uncut Gems”
Lorene Scafaria, “Hustlers”

BEST SCREENPLAY
Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”
Jason Begue, Shawn Snyder, “To Dust”
Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, “Uncut Gems”
Chinonye Chukwu, “Clemency”
Tarell Alvin McCraney, “High Flying Bird”

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Fredrica Bailey, Stefon Bristol, “See You Yesterday”
Hannah Bos, Paul Thureen, “Driveways”
Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy, “Blow
the Man Down”
Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, “Greener Grass”
James Montague, Craig W. Sanger, “The Vast of Night”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Todd Banhazl, “Hustlers”
Jarin Blaschke, “The Lighthouse”
Natasha Braier, “Honey Boy”
Chananun Chotrungroj, “The Third Wife”
Pawel Pogorzelski, “Midsommar”

BEST EDITING
Julie Béziau, “The Third Wife”
Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie, “Uncut Gems”
Tyler L. Cook, “Sword of Trust”
Louise Ford, “The Lighthouse”
Kirill Mikhanovsky, “Give Me Liberty”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
(Award given to the director and producer)

“American Factory”
Director/producers: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert
Producers: Julia Parker Benello, Jeff Reichert

“Apollo 11”
Director/producer: Todd Douglas Miller
Producers: Evan Krauss, Thomas Baxley Peterson

“For Sama”
Director: Edward Watts
Director/producer: Waad al-Kateab

“Honeyland”
Director: Tamara Kotevska
Director/producer: Ljubo Stefanov
Producer: Atanas Georgiev

“Island of the Hungry Ghosts”
Director/producer: Gabrielle Brady
Producers: Gizem Acarla, Samm Haillay, Alex Kelly, Alexander Wadouh

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
(Award given to the director)

“Invisible Life” (Brazil)
Director: Karim Aïnouz

“Les Misérables” (France)
Director: Ladj Ly

“Parasite” (South Korea)
Director: Bong Joon-ho

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (France)
Director: Céline Sciamma

“Retablo” (Peru)
Director: Álvaro Delgado Aparicio

“The Souvenir” (United Kingdom)
Director: Joanna Hogg

BONNIE AWARD
(The third annual Bonnie Award recognizes a midcareer female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant, sponsored by American Airlines.)

Marielle Heller
Kelly Reichardt
Lulu Wang

PRODUCERS AWARD
(The 23rd annual Producers Award honors emerging producers of independent film with a $25,000 unrestricted grant.)

Mollye Asher
Krista Parris
Ryan Zacarias

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
(The 26th annual Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker with a singular vision with a $25,000 unrestricted grant.)

“Premature”
Director: Rashaad Ernesto Green
“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”
Director: Joe Talbot
“The Third Wife”
Director: Ash Mayfair

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
(The 25th annual Truer Than Fiction Award recognizes an emerging director of nonfiction features with a $25,000 unrestricted grant.)

“17 Blocks”
Director: Davy Rothbart

“América”
Directors: Erick Stoll, Chase Whiteside

“Black Mother”
Director: Khalik Allah

“Jaddoland”
Director: Nadia Shihab

This story originally appeared in the Dec. 26 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.

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Jack Smart
Jack Smart is the awards editor at Backstage, where he covers all things Emmy, SAG, Oscar, and Tony Awards. He also produces and hosts Backstage’s awards podcast “In the Envelope” and has interviewed some of the biggest stars of stage and screen.
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