All you need to know about the Independent Spirit Awards before Saturday's ceremony

All you need to know about the Independent Spirit Awards before Saturday's ceremony

This weekend, March 3rd and 4th, there are two major award ceremonies happening in Hollywood.

Yes, the Oscars take place this Sunday, and most of the Internet has been talking about it for months. However, if the Oscars aren’t quite your scene, and if the kind of independent films that often get overlooked by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood are more in tune with your movie-watching tendencies, then you’ll definitely want to watch the Independent Spirit Awards this Saturday night.

The Indie Spirit Awards were founded in 1984, and they exclusively honour independent film. This year’s ceremony will be hosted by comedians John Mulaney and Nick Kroll, which guarantees a hilarious and entertaining night. Oftentimes nominations from the ISAs do overlap with some of those from the Oscars, but here you’ll find even more groundbreaking independent features that are often too small or not buzz-worthy enough to make it to the Academy Awards.

We’re breaking down the nominations in each major category at the Independent Spirit Awards, to introduce you to some outstanding indie titles that you otherwise may have missed.

You can watch the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, March 3 at 5pm ET, exclusively on Hollywood Suite 00s Movies in Canada. Learn more at hollywoodsuite.ca/spiritawards.

Best Feature

Call Me By Your Name

The Florida Project

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Rider

Of the five nominees for Best Feature, three are also nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars: Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, and Lady Bird. The Florida Project is a film that the Oscars almost completely shut-out, despite being predicted for many accolades ever since the film premiered at the Cannes film festival. It's not totally surprising, as the Academy has yet to recognize the talents of director Sean Baker, but we're ecstatic to see the love it has received from the ISAs. The Rider is another film that premiered at Cannes, (it also played at TIFF last fall), and was hailed a masterpiece among those who saw it. The film blends reality and fiction as the story is about the lead actor, Brady Jandreau, playing a version of himself, as a young cowboy who suffered a near-fatal head injury, and the impact this has had on his life.


Best First Feature

Columbus

Ingrid Goes West

Menashe

Oh Lucy!

Patti Cake$

It's important to honour first-time filmmakers, as it both helps the careers of these new filmmakers, and helps their debut features be seen. The Independent Spirit Awards nominated five excellent first films in this category, and we're highlighting our two favourites. First, there's Columbus, a quiet drama that follows a Korean man and a young woman both battling their demons, which stars John Cho (Harold & Kumar) and Haley Lu Richardson (The Edge of Seventeen). Ingrid Goes West is the hilarious, yet timely satire about our obsession with social media, which stars Aubrey Plaza as Ingrid, a woman obsessed with an Instagram influencer named Taylor Sloane (played by Elizabeth Olsen), who moves to California and becomes Taylor's best friend.


Best Director

Sean Baker, The Florida Project

Jonas Carpignano, A Ciambra

Luca Guadagnino, Call Me by Your Name

Jordan Peele, Get Out

Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, Good Time

Chloé Zhao, The Rider

Of the six directors here, only Jordan Peele also landed the Oscar nomination for his work on Get Out. The directing on all five of these films are all equally as deserving for the top prize at the Indie Spirit Awards. From Luca Guadagnino's lush, erotic and romantic work on Call Me By Your Name, to the frantic, edge-of-your-seat direction by The Safdies in Good Time, Sean Baker's brilliant work directing children and creating a surreal view of poverty in The Florida Project, and Jonas Carpignano's film that showcases a 14-year-old who is growing up too fast in A Ciambra; every director here gives us masterclass work. 


Best Screenplay

Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

Azazel Jacobs, The Lovers

Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Jordan Peele, Get Out

Mike White, Beatriz at Dinner

Three of these screenplays also earned Oscar nominations, but the ones that didn't, The Lovers and Beatriz at Dinner, were just as great. The Lovers follows a married couple who have been cheating on each other, and are on the verge of confessing to each other...until, something sparks between them and they find themselves falling back in love. Beatriz at Dinner is a black comedy from Mike White (he also wrote and directed the underrated Brad's Status last year), about a hispanic woman who finds herself invited to a dinner party filled with ignorant, upper-class guests. 


Best Male Lead

Harris Dickinson, Beach Rats

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Robert Pattinson, Good Time

James Franco, The Disaster Artist

We prefer this group of nominees over those at the Oscars this year (though two overlap, Daniel Kaluuya and Timothée Chalamet). Harris Dickinson was one of the best discoveries made last year. His role in Beach Rats as a young gay teen who secretly hooks up with older men that he meets online while still maintaining a straight persona among his friends, is worth just as much praise as Chalamet. Robert Pattinson has been turning in amazing performances with every post-Twilight film he's done, but Good Time might just be his best. Here he plays a bank robber on the run from the cops, who also has to care for his mentally challenged brother. James Franco may have lost his shot at awards glory because of  sexual harassment accusations, but if we just look at his work here, he delivered a spot-on and even heart-warming performance as Tommy Wiseau, the infamous director, writer, and star of the worst film ever made, The Room


Best Female Lead

Salma Hayek Pinault, Beatriz at Dinner

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Regina Williams, Life and Nothing More

Shinobu Terajima, Oh Lucy!

While three of these women were also nominated for the Oscar (Frances McDormand, Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan), the other three here deserve more recognition. Salma Kayek is outstanding in Beatriz at Dinner, and we're surprised that this film flew so under the radar considering its cast. Chances are you haven't even heard of the other two films. Life and Nothing More has Regina Williams playing a mother struggling to find a balance between parenting and living her life, leaving her 14-year-old son Andrew with more responsibility than he's ready for. Oh Lucy! is a heart-warming tale of a lonely Japanese woman, brilliantly played by Shinobu Terajima, who is learning English in Tokyo, and through this takes on an alter-ego named Lucy, who follows her American teacher back to the United States.


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

Benny Safdie, Good Time

Only one of these men also earned a nomination with the Oscars, that being Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. We're surprised that the other four nominated here haven't been as talked about, considering just how amazing they all were. Armie Hammer truly proved his acting ability with his nuanced turn in Call Me By Your Name, Benny Safdie was simply incredible in Good Time, and Nnamdi Asomugha gave a breakout turn as a man trying to free his innocent best friend from prison in Crown Heights. We'd like to single out Barry Keoghan though, as the breakout star of the year who most would recognize from his role in Dunkirk. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Keoghan gave a performance that was totally unique and unnerving, and probably one of our favourite movie villains in recent years.


Best Supporting Female

Holly Hunter, The Big Sick

Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Lois Smith, Marjorie Prime

Taliah Lennice Webster, Good Time

This is another race that will come down to frontrunners Allison Janney and Laurie Metcalf, who are also battling it out for the Oscar. The other three women in this category, two legends and one newcomer, also give stirring supporting performances. Holly Hunter nearly stole the show as the mother of Emily in The Big Sick, balancing comedy and drama as she plays a woman whose daughter is battling an unknown illness. Lois Smith is captivating as a woman who is able to interact with a hologram of her dead husband through new technology in Marjorie Prime. More people should be talking about Taliah Lennice Webster, whose breakout performance in Good Time as a young girl entranced by Robert Pattinson (and who could blame her), should guarantee her more great roles in her future.


Watch the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, March 3 at 5pm ET, exclusively on Hollywood Suite 00s Movies in Canada. Learn more at hollywoodsuite.ca/spiritawards.