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Independent Spirit nominations shape early view of awards season

Glenn Close received an Independent Spirit Awards nomination for lead actress for her performance in “The Wife.”
Glenn Close received an Independent Spirit Awards nomination for lead actress for her performance in “The Wife.” Graeme Hunter Pictures

The Independent Spirit Award nominations were announced last week, giving us an early glimpse of what this year’s awards season and Oscar chances could look like (but, really, their nominations were all over the place). Some notable Oscar frontrunners didn’t make the list (such as Lady Gaga or Bradley Cooper from “A Star Is Born”) because only films with a budget of $20 million or less are eligible for Indie Spirit Award nominations.

This year’s ceremony will take place Saturday, Feb. 23, one day before the 2019 Oscars. Here’s a look at some of the Independent Spirit categories (you can see the entire list of nominees at www.filmindependent.org).

Lead actor

Good: Ethan Hawke, “First Reformed”

Word is that this is Hawke’s best performance to date, as a conflicted priest, and the Independent Spirit nom almost cements his awards season trajectory.

Bad: Robert Redford, “The Old Man and the Gun”

Redford failed to make the list with his performance as an aging thief, and the omission could be the end of the line for his awards chances. If he can’t even muster an Independent Spirit nom, an Oscar nod is almost out of the question. He’s only been nominated for a best actor Oscar once, for 1974’s “The Sting.” But weirder things have happened.

Lead actress

Good: Toni Collette, “Hereditary,” Carey Mulligan, “Wildlife” and Glenn Close, “The Wife”

All three noms signal good things for the actresses (especially for Close, who some say will finally win that elusive Oscar -- but had she failed to make the list here that would have been disastrous for her chances).

Bad: Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

McCarthy failed to get an Indie Spirit nom for a rare serious role, which significantly stalls her awards season buzz. She’ll have to get some serious love from the Golden Globes to get back on track.

Supporting actor

Good: Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

McCarthy’s screen mate did get a Spirit nom, though, and that’s good for the film, in general.

Bad: Russell Crowe, “Boy Erased”

“Boy Erased” surprisingly pretty much got snubbed in all categories for the Independent Spirit Awards, but a glaring omission is Crowe in the supporting category for his role a priest/father grappling with his son’s sexual identity.

Supporting actress

Good: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

King’s Independent Spirit nomination is a huge step forward for her campaign and Barry Jenkins’ (“Moonlight”) film.

Bad: Nicole Kidman, “Boy Erased”

Also a glaring omission from the Independent Spirit noms is Kidman’s tender, detailed performance as a mother trying to protect and understand her son. She could still get some other awards season love, though.

Best director

Good: Barry Jenkins, “If Beale Street Could Talk” and Paul Schrader, “First Reformed”

These nominations are very positive signs for the films and the directors.

Bad: Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Lee failed to make the Independent Spirit list, and his omission doesn’t spell good things for his Oscar or Director’s Guild chances.

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