Film Independent is an organization that robustly supports independent filmmaking. Based in Los Angeles, the group produces the annual L.A. Film Festival.
But it’s probably best known for producing the Independent Spirit Awards, always held the day before the Oscars in a giant tent on the Santa Monica Pier.
I joined Film Independent this year to take advantage of its filmmaking resources (such as online tools, workshops and a virtual community of filmmakers).
But as a member, I also got to vote in the Independent Spirit Awards, and as such received either DVD screeners or viewing links to almost all of the nominees, allowing me a chance to see many independent and “small” films that never made it to Wichita (I highly recommend indie film fans consider joining – it costs $95 per year, easily justifiable for the amount of screeners you get). And if you’re a movie awards junkie like me, it was just fun to vote.
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This year’s awards will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 3, and will be broadcast live on IFC (the Independent Film Channel on cable). Comics Nick Kroll and John Mulaney will co-host.
Here are the nominees and how and why I cast my vote in some of the categories:
“Call Me by Your Name”
“The Florida Project”
I voted hand-down for “Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig’s highly entertaining and moving coming-of-age story of a young girl’s last year in high school. It’s beautifully acted, smart and left me soaring.
Sean Baker, “The Florida Project”
Jonas Carpignano, “A Ciambra”
Luca Gudagnino, “Call Me by Your Name”
Jordan Peele, “Get Out”
Benny Safdie and Josh Benny, “Good Time”
Chloé Zhao, “The Rider”
It’s really a shame that Gerwig wasn’t nominated here, because she would get my vote. I instead voted for Peele for his breakout horror satire that defied conventions. He deftly handled multiple tones, letting it be dark and creepy when it needed to be, but also with a sense of humor. And it said bigger-picture things about racism without hitting us over the head with a “message.”
Best female lead
Salma Hayek, “Beatriz at Dinner”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Shinobu Terajima, “Oh Lucy!”
Regina Williams, “Life and Nothing More”
Even though McDormand is getting all the love this season, I voted for Robbie for her fiercely funny and defiant performance as disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding. She never let it become a caricature, and studied and trained fearlessly to be able to do the skating required.
Best male lead
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Harris Dickinson, “Beach Rats”
James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Robert Pattinson, “Good Time”
I know he’s been getting flak for indecent behavior, but I still voted for Franco for his wacky and near-perfect impersonation of enigmatic filmmaker Tommy Wiseau. He somehow poked fun at him while paying tribute at the same time.
Best supporting female
Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Laurie Metcalfe, “Lady Bird”
Lois Smith, “Marjorie Prime”
Taliah Lennice Webster, “Good Time”
Again, while Janney is getting all the attention this awards season, I voted for Metcalf, whose performance is much more layered and detailed. And the emotion she shows in that scene at the end when she’s driving around the airport speaks volumes, all without uttering a single word.
Best supporting male
Nnamdi Asomugha, “Crown Heights”
Armie Hammer, “Call Me by Your Name”
Barry Keoghan, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Bennie Safdie, “Good Time”
I voted for Rockwell, who just made you hate him then feel sorry for him as a racist cop. It’s a roiling, thoughtful performance.
Best first feature
“Ingrid Goes West”
I voted for “Oh, Lucy!,” a gentle and surprisingly moving tale of a woman donning an alter ego and leaving behind her drab life in Tokyo, heading to America to search for the English teacher (played by Josh Hartnett) she fell in love with.
Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”
Azazel Jacobs, “The Lovers”
Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Jordan Peele, “Get Out”
Mike White, “Beatriz at Dinner”
I voted for Gerwig, whose script crackles with sharp dialogue but also relays rich emotion.
Thimios Bakatakis, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
Elisha Christian, “Columbus”
Hélène Louvart, “Beach Rats”
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, “Call Me by Your Name”
Joshua James Richards, “The Rider”
I voted for “Call Me” for its lush camerawork, capturing the beautiful Italian landscape and setting the tone for its love story.
Ronald Bronstein and Benny Safdie, “Good Time”
Walter Fasano, “Call Me by Your Name”
Alex O'Flinn, “The Rider”
Gregory Plotkin, “Get Out”
Tatiana S. Riegel, “I, Tonya”
I voted for “I, Tonya” because Riegel’s pace befit the wacky story and she seamlessly weaved shots of Robbie skating with body doubles.