‘Moonlight,’ ‘American Honey’ to vie at Spirit Awards

SANTA MONICA >> The last three best-feature winners at the Film Independent Spirit Awards have gone on to win best-picture the next day at the Academy Awards, but that streak appears likely to snap this year.The Oscar favorite “La La Land,”...

‘Moonlight,’ ‘American Honey’ to vie at Spirit Awards

SANTA MONICA >> The last three best-feature winners at the Film Independent Spirit Awards have gone on to win best-picture the next day at the Academy Awards, but that streak appears likely to snap this year.

The Oscar favorite “La La Land,” a smidge too pricey with a $30 million budget to qualify for the indie awards, isn’t in the hunt at Saturday’s awards. The leading contenders are Barry Jenkins’ coming-of-age tale “Moonlight” and Andrea Arnold’s heartland odyssey “American Honey.” Both are up for a leading six nods, including best feature and best director.

While “Moonlight,” up for eight Oscars, is likely to take home some awards Sunday, “American Honey” and other smaller releases will get their day in the sun Saturday. The Spirit Awards, held under a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, California, are the dressed-down, afternoon antidote to the Academy Awards, where cocktails and indie pride are consumed in equal measure.

The Spirit Awards, which will air live on IFC beginning at 2 p.m. PST, have often been a kind of a seaside dress rehearsal for the Oscars. Before “Spotlight,” ‘’Birdman” and “12 Years a Slave” triumphed at the Academy Awards, they also won at the Spirits the day before.

Some still believe “Moonlight” or Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea” (up for five Spirits, including best feature and best actor for Casey Affleck) have an underdog’s chance of upsetting the “La La Land” juggernaut. But that film’s hefty Oscar haul — a record-tying 14 nods — has given the sense of an impending sweep.

The other best-feature candidates at the Spirits are “Jackie” (whose Natalie Portman is also up for best actress) and “Chronic,” one of the awards’ more off-the-map selections. The film stars Tim Roth as a homecare nurse.

Other somewhat-under-the-radar nominees include “The Fits,” from first-time director Anna Rose Holmer, Robert Eggers’ “The Witch,” Chris Kelly’s “Other People” and Andrew Ahn’s “Spa Night.”

Nominations are chosen by members of Film Independent, which includes critics, filmmakers, actors, festival programmers, past winners and nominees, and members of its board of directors. Hosting this year’s ceremony are comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney.

Here is a complete list of nominees from City News Service:


(Award given to the producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)

-- “American Honey,” Producers: Thomas Benski, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Lucas Ochoa, Pouya Shahbazian, Alice Weinberg

-- “Chronic,” Producers: Michel Franco, Gina Kwon, Gabriel Ripstein, Moises Zonana

-- “Jackie,” Producers: Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin, Ari Handel, Juan de Dios Larrain, Mickey Liddell

-- “Manchester by the Sea,” Producers: Lauren Beck, Matt Damon, Chris Moore, Kimberly Steward, Kevin J. Walsh

-- “Moonlight,” Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski


(Award given to the director and producer)

-- “The Childhood of a Leader,” Director: Brady Corbet; Producers: Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre, Chris Coen, Ron Curtis, Helena Danielsson, Mona Fastvold, Istvan Major

-- “The Fits,” Director/Producer: Anna Rose Holmer; Producer: Lisa Kjerulff

-- “Other People,” Director: Chris Kelly; Producers: Sam Bisbee, Adam Scott, Naomi Scott

-- “Swiss Army Man,” Directors: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert; Producers: Miranda Bailey, Lawrence Inglee, Lauren Mann, Amanda Marshall, Eyal Rimmon, Jonathan Wang

-- “The Witch,” Director: Robert Eggers; Producers: Daniel Bekerman, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Jodi Redmond, Rodrigo Teixeira


(Given to the best feature made for under $500,000. Award given to the writer, director and producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)

-- “Free In Deed,” Writer/Director: Jake Mahaffy; Producers: Mike Bowes, Mike S. Ryan, Brent Stiefel

-- “Hunter Gatherer,” Writer/Director: Josh Locy; Producers: Michael Covino, April Lamb, Sara Murphy, Isaiah Smallman

-- “Lovesong,” Writer/Director: So Yong Kim; Writer/Producer: Bradley Rust Gray; Producers: David Hansen, Alex Lipschultz, Johnny Mac

-- “Nakom,” Writer/Director/Producer: TW Pittman; Director/Producer: Kelly Daniela Norris; Writer/Producer: Isaac Adakudugu; Producer: Giovanni Ximenez

-- “Spa Night,” Writer/Director: Andrew Ahn; Producers: David Ariniello, Giulia Caruso, Ki Jin Kim, Kelly Thomas


-- Andrea Arnold, “American Honey”

-- Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”

-- Pablo Larrain, “Jackie”

-- Jeff Nichols, “Loving”

-- Kelly Reichardt, “Certain Women”


-- Barry Jenkins, Story By Tarell Alvin McCraney, “Moonlight”

-- Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”

-- Mike Mills, “20th Century Women”

-- Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias, “Little Men”

-- Taylor Sheridan, “Hell or High Water”


-- Robert Eggers, “The Witch”

-- Chris Kelly, “Other People”

-- Adam Mansbach, “Barry”

-- Stella Meghie, “Jean of the Joneses”

-- Craig Shilowich, “Christine”


-- Ava Berkofsky, “Free In Deed”

-- Lol Crawley, “The Childhood of a Leader”

-- Zach Kuperstein, “The Eyes of My Mother”

-- James Laxton, “Moonlight”

-- Robbie Ryan, “American Honey”


-- Matthew Hannam, “Swiss Army Man”

-- Jennifer Lame, “Manchester by the Sea”

-- Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders, “Moonlight”

-- Jake Roberts, “Hell or High Water”

-- Sebastian Sepulveda, “Jackie”


-- Annette Bening, “20th Century Women”

-- Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”

-- Sasha Lane, “American Honey”

-- Ruth Negga, “Loving”

-- Natalie Portman, “Jackie”


-- Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”

-- David Harewood, “Free In Deed”

-- Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”

-- Jesse Plemons, “Other People”

-- Tim Roth, “Chronic”


-- Edwina Findley, “Free In Deed”

-- Paulina Garcia, “Little Men”

-- Lily Gladstone, “Certain Women”

-- Riley Keough, “American Honey”

-- Molly Shannon, “Other People”


-- Ralph Fiennes, “A Bigger Splash”

-- Ben Foster, “Hell or High Water”

-- Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”

-- Shia LaBeouf, “American Honey”

-- Craig Robinson, “Morris from America”


(Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast)

-- “Moonlight,” Director: Barry Jenkins; Casting Director: Yesi Ramirez; Ensemble Cast: Mahershala Ali, Patrick Decile, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, Andre Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monae, Jaden Piner, Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders


(Award given to the director and producer)

-- “13th,” Director/Producer: Ava DuVernay; Producers: Spencer Averick, Howard Barish

-- “Cameraperson,” Director/Producer: Kirsten Johnson; Producer: Marilyn Ness

-- “I Am Not Your Negro,” Director/Producer: Raoul Peck; Producers: Remi Grellety, Herbert Peck

-- “O.J.: Made in America,” Director/Producer: Ezra Edelman; Producers: Nina Krstic, Tamara Rosenberg, Caroline Waterlow

-- “Sonita,” Director: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami; Producer: Gerd Haag

-- “Under the Sun,” Director: Vitaly Mansky; Producer: Natalya Manskaya


(Award given to the director)

-- “Aquarius” (Brazil); Director: Kleber Mendonca Filho

-- “Chevalier” (Greece); Director: Athina Tsangari

-- “My Golden Days” (France); Director: Arnaud Desplechin

-- “Toni Erdmann” (Germany and Romania); Director: Maren Ade

-- “Under the Shadow” (Iran and U.K.); Director: Babak Anvari


The 20th annual Producers Award, sponsored by Piaget, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget.

-- Lisa Kjerulff

-- Jordana Mollick

-- Melody C. Roscher & Craig Shilowich


The 23rd annual Someone to Watch Award, sponsored by Kiehl’s Since 1851, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851.

-- Andrew Ahn, director of “Spa Night”

-- Claire Carre, director of “Embers”

-- Anna Rose Holmer, director of “The Fits”

-- Ingrid Jungermann, director of “Women Who Kill”


The 22nd annual Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

-- Kristi Jacobson, director of “Solitary”

-- Sara Jordeno, director of “Kiki”

-- Nanfu Wang, director of “Hooligan Sparrow”

City News Service contributed to this report.

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