2020: The Year of the Female Filmmaker

For a long time I've felt that the Film Independent Spirit Awards serve as "The Oscar Make-up Ceremony" for a number of reasons. Firstly, they hardly ever get it right, in terms of nominations or even winners at times. Last year certainly seemed to be the case as far as winners and nominees were concerned. Uncut Gems was completely shut out of the Oscars last year, as was The Farewell, which won the top prize at the Spirit Awards last year. Many might remember the hilarious speech given by Adam Sandler for Best Actor (something we missed out on at the Oscars!). There was certainly a lot of hubbub about female directors putting up a big old goose egg in the nominations for that category. Greta Gerwig was wrongfully omitted from that list for her achievement in direction in her reimagining of Little Women. Well, this year's Spirit Awards feels like a bit of redemption, or retribution, for that matter. Four of the five nominees for Best Director are occupied by women. This clearly is a massive statement to the Academy to step up their game with their inclusion of deserving female directors. Truth be told, they could have included five, if you ask me. Kitty Green was left out for her work in The Assistant. In any case, The Spirit Awards have made it clear that female filmmakers deserve recognition for their hard work and dedication to their proficiently made projects. Without further delay, onto the feature film nominees for this year. My predictions will be in bold, and shown in the photos.

Best Editing

  • I Carry You With Me
  • The Invisible Man
  • Residue
  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  • Nomadland

Best Cinematography

  • Jay Keitel, She Dies Tomorrow
  • Shabier Kirchner, Bull
  • Michael Latham, The Assistant
  • Hélène Louvart, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  • Joshua James Richards, Nomadland

Best First Screenplay

  • Kitty Green, The Assistant
  • Noah Hutton, Lapsis
  • Channing Godfrey Peoples, Miss Juneteenth
  • Andy Siara, Palm Springs
  • James Sweeney, Straight Up

Best Screenplay

  • Bad Education
  • Minari
  • The Half of It
  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  • Promising Young Woman

Best Supporting Male

  • Colman Domingo, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Orion Lee, First Cow
  • Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
  • Glynn Turmann, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Benedict Wong, Nine Days

Best Supporting Female

  • Alexis Chikaeze, Miss Juneteenth
  • Yeri Han, Minari
  • Valerie Mahaffey, French Exit
  • Talia Ryder, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  • Yuh-jung Youn, Minari

Best Male Lead

  • Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
  • Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Rob Morgan, Bull
  • Steven Yeun, Minari
  • Adarsh Gourav, The White Tiger

Best Female Lead

  • Nicole Beharie, Miss Juneteenth
  • Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  • Julia Garner, The Assistant
  • Frances McDormand, Nomadland
  • Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Best First Feature

  • I Carry You With Me
  • The 40 Year Old Version
  • Sound of Metal
  • Miss Juneteenth
  • Nine Days

Best Director

  • Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
  • Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
  • Eliza Hittman, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  • Kelly Reichardt, First Cow
  • Chloe Zhao, Nomadland

Best Feature

  • First Cow
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Minari
  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  • Nomadland

The Spirit Awards vs. The Oscars

To say that the Oscars have anything to do with the Film Independent Spirit Awards would be a blatant lie. There's very little overlap, if any. The only overlap beyond sharing the same weekend they take place would be a handful of the films that will inevitably be nominated. I would venture to guess that the Ma Rainey and Nomadland nominations will be similar at the Oscars to this ceremony, but that would probably be the extent of it. What separates the two is primarily budgetary. There is a limit to what type of budget your film can have to submit to the Spirit Awards. Hence, the focus on mostly small indie dramas. The Oscars are much more extravagant and fancy themselves as exclusive, but ultimately the Film Independent Spirit Awards are much more exclusive with regard to what types of films are nominated and awarded. In some cases, I also feel the Spirit Awards tend to reward the films that likely won't see any recognition at the Oscars. Which is why I predicted Never Rarely Sometimes Always to walk away with the most Spirit Awards at the end of the night.

The Film Independent Spirit Awards ceremony will take place on Thursday April 22, 2021 at 9 PM CT.

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By Rob McNeil

My name is Rob McNeil. I was born and raised in Normal, Illinois and I am a 28 year-old award winning screenwriter. I am very passionate about film, so much that I watch far too many films on a daily basis. I have written fifteen feature screenplays, a spec pilot thriller series, and several short scripts. I aim to make filmmaking a career, but for now, I will write about it.

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