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Awards Season

Inside Every Recent Film Independent Spirit Award Best Feature Winner

Inside Every Recent Film Independent Spirit Award Best Feature Winner
Photo Source: The cast of “Moonlight”: YouTube / Film Independent

The Film Independent Spirit Awards have a reputation for honoring the industry’s most creative and artistic—and most importantly, indie—filmmaking efforts of the year. Film Independent, the nonprofit also behind the L.A. Film Festival, has since 1984 thrown a festive awards show every year on Santa Monica Beach in Hollywood the night before the Academy Awards, a counterpoint to that ceremony meant to focus on smaller budgeted, more independently produced films.

The organization’s equivalent to the Academy Award for Best Picture, the Independent Spirit Award for Best Film (otherwise known simply as Best Feature) has been presented to some of the most prestigious American films made for less than $20 million in recent industry history. The category is also known as a strong bellwether of Oscar success, with an increasingly strong correlation to the votes from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, decided upon around the same time Film Independent members are voting on their honorees.

Check out an overview of the recent history of the Independent Spirit Award for Best Film below. Which film could join their ranks this year? “Call Me By Your Name,” “The Florida Project,” “Get Out,” “Lady Bird,” and “The Rider” will compete for the title at the upcoming 32rd Spirit Awards ceremony, produced by Film Independent, hosted by Nick Kroll and John Mulaney live on IFC March 3, 2018.

“Moonlight”
Year in consideration: 2016
Director: Barry Jenkins
Cast: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monáe, Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders
Distributor: A24
Premiere history: Telluride Film Festival, Sept. 2016; wide release Oct. 21, 2016
Other awards won: Independent Spirit Awards Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Robert Altman Award; British Independent Film Awards Best Foreign Independent Film; Critics’ Choice Awards, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Acting Ensemble; Golden Globe Best Picture Drama
Academy Award nominations: Best Picture (won), Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali, won), Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris), Best Adapted Screenplay (won), Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

“Spotlight”
Year: 2015
Director: Tom McCarthy
Cast: Billy Crudup, Brian d’Arcy James, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci
Distributor: Open Road Films
Premiere history: Venice Film Festival Sept. 2015; wide release Nov. 6, 2015
Other awards won: Independent Spirit Awards Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Editing, Robert Altman Award; British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) Best Original Screenplay; Critics’ Choice Awards Best Picture, Best Acting Ensemble, Best Original Screenplay; Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Academy Award nominations: Best Picture (won), Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Best Supporting Actress (Rachel McAdams), Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing

“Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Year: 2014
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Premiere history: Venice Film Festival Aug. 27, 2014; limited release Oct. 17, 2014; wide release Nov. 14, 2014
Other awards won: Independent Spirit Awards Best Male Lead (Michael Keaton), Best Cinematography; British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) Best Cinematography; Critics’ Choice Awards Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Best Acting Ensemble, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Score; Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Academy Award nominations: Best Picture (won), Best Director (won), Best Original Screenplay (won), Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Best Supporting Actor (Edward Norton), Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone), Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing

“12 Years a Slave”
Year: 2013
Director: Steve McQueen
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti, Scoot McNairy, Lupita Nyong’o, Adepero Oduye, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Michael Kenneth Williams, Alfre Woodard
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Premiere history: Telluride Film Festival Aug. 2013; wide release Nov. 8, 2013
Other awards won: Independent Spirit Award Best Director, Best Supporting Female (Lupita Nyong’o); British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) Best Film, Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor); Golden Globe Best Motion Picture Drama; Toronto International Film Festival People’s Choice Award
Academy Award nominations: Best Picture (won), Best Director, Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender), Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o, won), Best Adapted Screenplay (won)

“Silver Linings Playbook”
Year: 2012
Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Anupam Kher, Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Tucker, Jacki Weaver
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Premiere history: Toronto International Film Festival Sept. 2012; wide release Nov. 16, 2012
Other awards won: Independent Spirit Award Best Director, Best Female Lead (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Screenplay; British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) Best Film, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay; Critics’ Choice Awards, Best Acting Ensemble; Golden Globe Best Actress Musical or Comedy (Jennifer Lawrence)
Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence, won), Best Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro), Best Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver), Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing

“The Artist”
Year: 2011
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Cast: Bérénice Bejo, James Cromwell, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Penelope Ann Miller
Distributor: Warner Brothers France; The Weinstein Company
Premiere history: Cannes Film Festival May 2011; wide release Jan. 25, 2012
Other awards won: British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) Best Film, Best Direction, Best Actor (Jean Dujardin); Critics Choice Awards Best Picture, Best Director; Golden Globe Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, Best Actor Musical or Comedy (Jean Dujardin)
Academy Award nominations: Best Picture (won), Best Director (won), Best Actor (Jean Dujardin, won), Best Supporting Actress (Bérénice Bejo), Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design (won), Best Film Editing, Best Original Score (won)

“Black Swan”
Year: 2010
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Mila Kunis, Natalie Portman, Winona Ryder
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Premiere history: Venice Film Festival Sept. 2010; wide release Dec. 17, 2010
Other awards won: British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) Best Actress in a Leading Role (Natalie Portman); Golden Globe Award Best Actress Drama (Natalie Portman)
Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Natalie Portman, won), Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film Editing

“Precious”
Year: 2009
Director: Lee Daniels
Cast: Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Sherri Shepherd, Gabourey Sidibe
Distributor: Lionsgate
Premiere history: Sundance Film Festival, Jan. 2009; wide release Nov. 6, 2009
Other awards won: British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) Best Supporting Actress (Mo’Nique); Critics’ Choice Awards Best Supporting Actress (Mo’Nique); Golden Globe Award Best Performance By an Actress in a Supporting Role (Mo’Nique)
Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Gabourey Sidibe), Best Supporting Actress (Mo’Nique, won), Best Adapted Screenplay (won), Best Director, Best Film Editing

“The Wrestler”
Year: 2008
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Premiere history: Venice Film Festival, Sept. 2008; wide release Jan. 23, 2009
Other awards won: Independent Spirit Awards Best Male Lead (Mickey Rourke), Best Cinematography; British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) Best Actor (Mickey Rourke), Golden Globe Best Actor Drama (Mickey Rourke); Venice Film Festival Golden Lion
Academy Award nominations: Best Actor (Mickey Rourke), Best Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei)

“Juno”
Year: 2007
Director: Jason Reitman
Cast: Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Allison Janney, Ellen Page, J. K. Simmons
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Premiere history: Telluride Film Festival Sept. 2007; wide release Dec. 25, 2007
Other awards won: Independent Spirit Award Best Female Lead (Ellen Page), Best First Screenplay; British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) Best Original Screenplay, Critics’ Choice Awards Best Comedy
Academy Award nominations: Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actress (Ellen Page), Best Original Screenplay (won)

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