The Independent Spirit Awards announced their 2017 nominees Tuesday.  The Spirit Awards, designed to recognize the best in indie filmmaking, honor films made for $20 million or less.  The nominees for this awards ceremony are always worth paying attention to as they tend to be a pretty good indicator of which films and performances will have a good chance of being nominated for an Academy Award.  Over the past three years, the Spirit Awards and the Oscars have picked the same Best Picture: 2016’s Spotlight, 2015’s Birdman and 2014’s 12 Years a Slave.

Stella Meghie’s Jean of the Joneses received a nomination in the Best First Screenplay category, and Ava DuVernay’s political documentary 13th has been nominated in the documentary category.

Meghie will be competing against Robert Eggers’ The Witch, Chris Kelly’s Other People, Adam Mansbach’s Barry, and Craig Shilowich Christine who have all received nominations in the same category

Loosely based on Meghie’s personal experiences, this indie comedic drama follows 25-year-old Jean and her multi-generational dysfunctional, middle-class Jamaican-American family of women.  When an estranged grandfather dies on the doorstep of the family’s brownstone during Sunday dinner, tensions rise, and old conflicts come to a boil as Jean uncovers the family’s buried secrets.  The critically acclaimed comedy-drama was distributed via TV One and made it’s television debut last month.

DuVernay’s critically acclaimed mass incarceration documentary 13th has been nominated for an IDA Documentary Award in the Best Feature category and also in the Best Music category and recently won the award for Best Political Documentary in addition to the Best Director and Best Documentary Award in the tv/streaming category at the Critic’s Choice Documentary Awards.

13th traces the history from the US constitution’s 13th amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, to 2016, where one-in-three black American males can expect to be imprisoned during his lifetime.  It explores racial imbalances in the criminal justice system, and features appearances from author Michelle Alexander, activist Angela Davis, and Senator Cory Booker, among others.  At it’s core, this powerful film charts the path that shows the audience how history has been repeating itself from the Jim Crow era to the present.

The full list of nominees follow below, and will take place on February 25 in Santa Monica and will broadcast live on IFC at 5pm EST.

FEATURE

“American Honey”

“Chronic”

“Jackie”

“Manchester by the Sea”

“Moonlight”

FIRST FEATURE

“The Childhood of a Leader”

“The Fits”

“Other People”

“Swiss Army Man”

“The Witch”

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (best feature made for less than $500,000)

“Free in Deed”

“Hunter Gatherer”

“Lovesong”

“Nakom”

“Spa Night”

DIRECTOR

Andrea Arnold, “American Honey”

Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”

Pablo Larraín, “Jackie”

Jeff Nichols, “Loving”

Kelly Reichert, “Certain Women”

SCREENPLAY

Barry Jenkins, story by Tarell Alvin McCraney, “Moonlight”

Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”

Mike Mills, “20th Century Women”

Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias, “Little Men”

Taylor Sheridan, “Hell or High Water”

FIRST SCREENPLAY

Robert Eggers, “The Witch”

Chris Kelly, “Other People”

Adam Mansbach, “Barry”

Stella Meghie, “Jean of the Joneses”

Craig Shilowich, “Christine”

CINEMATOGRAPHY

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”

EDITING 

Matthew Hannam, “Swiss Army Man”

Jennifer Lame, “Manchester by the Sea”

Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders, “Moonlight”

Jake Roberts, “Hell or High Water”

Sebastián Sepúlveda, “Jackie”

FEMALE LEAD

Annette Bening, “20th Century Women”

Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”

Sasha Lane, “American Honey”

Ruth Negga, “Loving”

Natalie Portman, “Jackie”

MALE LEAD

Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”

David Harewood, “Free In Deed”

Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”

Jesse Plemons, “Other People”

Tim Roth, “Chronic”

SUPPORTING FEMALE

Edwina Findley, “Free In Deed”

Paulina Garcia, “Little Men”

Lily Gladstone, “Certain Women”

Riley Keough, “American Honey”

Molly Shannon, “Other People”

SUPPORTING MALE

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

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD

Moonlight: director, Barry Jenkins; casting director, Yesi Ramirez; ensemble cast, Mahershala Ali, Patrick Decile, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monáe, Jaden Piner, Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders

DOCUMENTARY

13th

Cameraperson

I Am Not Your Negro

O.J.: Made in America

Sonita

Under the Sun

INTERNATIONAL FILM

Aquarius (Brazil)

Chevalier (Greece)

My Golden Days (France)

Toni Erdmann (Germany and Romania)

Under the Shadow (Iran and U.K.)

20th PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD

Lisa Kjerulff

Jordana Mollick

Melody C. Roscher & Craig Shilowich

23rd KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD

Andrew Ahn, director, Spa Night

Claire Carré, director, Embers

Anna Rose Holmer, director, The Fits

Ingrid Jungermann, director, Women Who Kill

22nd TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD

Kristi Jacobson, director, Solitary

Nanfu Wang, director, Hooligan Sparrow

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About The Author

Founder, HBR Media

K. Nicole Mills is the Founder of HBR Media. She transitioned from Wall Street to television and film development, and has worked at NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures, and Showtime Networks. She currently develops digital programming for premium networks. Reach out anytime! info@hbrmedia.org

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