Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Independent Day

Today it's a day reserved for independent film news. Last night the Gotham Awards were celebrated in New York City, the big winner of the night was Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom', which took home the prize for Best Feature. The average American probably won't know what a Gotham Award is, but the prize will certainly help Anderson's film get some traction when the bigger awards come around later this year. Maybe an Oscar nomination?

Overall, I was very pleased with the winners. Besides the wonderful 'Moonrise Kingdom', other winners included the also wonderful 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' for Best Breakthrough Director and actress Emayatzi Corinealdi from 'Middle of Nowhere' for Best Breakthrough Actress. The winner for Best Documentary was 'How to Survive a Plague', a movie about the first years of the AIDS epidemic. I've only heard great things about the film and am eager to give it a look. 

The Gothams will bring a little help to its winners in their quest for more awards, but the biggest news of the day are actually the nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards. Widely regarded as the independent film equivalent to the Oscars, as independent films take a bigger stab at the year end awards each year, the Indie Spirits (as they are sometime known) become more influential in the Oscar race. Past nominees and winners include 'Black Swan', 'The Artist', 'Precious' and 'Juno'. Let's take a look at this year's nominees.  

Best Feature
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Bernie
Keep the Lights On
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook

'The Master' had too big a budget to be deemed an independent film by the nominating committee, although the press of getting some nominations would have helped it a lot. I'm very glad to see 'Beasts', 'Moonrise Kingdom' and 'Bernie' here, all movies I really liked this year. 'Keep the Lights On' did very well with nominations and is kind of the big surprise, I guess?

Director
Wes Anderson - Moonrise Kingdom
Julia Lotkev - The Loneliest Planet
David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook
Ira Sachs - Keep the Lights On
Benh Zeitlin - Beasts of the Southern Wild

Screenplay
Moonrise Kingdom
Ruby Sparks
Seven Psycopaths
Silver Linings Playbook
Keep the Lights On

First Film
Fill the Void
Gimme the Loot
Safety Not Guaranteed
Sound of My Voice
The Perks of Being a Wallflower

First Screenplay
Fill the Void
Safety Not Guaranteed
Robot & Frank
Celeste and Jesse Forever
Gayby

John Cassavetes Award (For films made under $500,000)
Breakfast with Curtis
Middle of Nowhere
Mosquita y Mari
Starlet
The Color Wheel

Female Lead
Linda Cardellini - Return
Emayatzy Corinealdi - Middle of Nowhere
Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
Quvenzhane Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild
Mary Elizabeth Winstead - Smashed

Male Lead
Jack Black - Bernie
Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
John Hawkes - The Sessions
Thure Lindhart - Keep the Lights On
Matthew McConaughey - Killer Joe
Wendell Pierce - Four

Supporting Female
Rosemary Dewitt - You Sister's Sister
Ann Dowd - Compliance
Helen Hunt - The Sessions
Brit Marling - Sound of My Voice
Lorraine Toussant - Middle of Nowhere

Supporting Male
Matthew McConaughey - Magic Mike
David Oyelowo - Middle of Nowhere
Michael Peña - End of Watch
Sam Rockwell - Seven Psycopaths
Bruce Willis - Moonrise Kingdom

Cinematography
Valley of Saints
Here
Beasts of the Southern Wild
End of Watch 
Moonrise Kingdom

Documentary
How to Survive a Plague
Marine Abramoviae: The Artist is Present
The Central Park Five
The Invisible War
The Waiting Room

International Film
Amour
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Rust and Bone
Sister
War Witch

From the films I've seen, these all seem like pretty worthy nominees. The one which will probably get the biggest Oscar traction is 'Silver Linings Playbook', but strong showings for 'Moonrise Kingdom' and 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' could help those films too. 

One big thing, though. Is 'Magic Mike' an independent film? And if so, isn't it weird Matthew McConaughey was its only nomination?

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