Brow Beat

Birdman Leads the Charge in Independent Spirit Awards

Is Birdman the next Best Picture winner?

Photo by Alison Rosa - © 2014 - Fox Searchlight

Oscar chat has been buzzing for months, but as Thanksgiving fast approaches, it’s safe to say that we are officially in full-on awards season mode: Recent early screenings of Into the Woods and Selma have each been widely tagged as having the makings of a front-runner. And today, the Independent Spirit Award nominations are out, giving us a closer look at the playing field.

Birdman has the most nominations—six—including for its star, Michael Keaton, and director, Alejandro Iñárritu. Boyhood, Selma, and Nightcrawler are close behind, with five each. While many of the choices are to be expected—the buzzed-about Dear White People and Whiplash, for instance—there are a couple of surprising acknowledgements as well. André Benjamin was nominated for his role in Jimi: All Is by My Side; Iranian vampire movie A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was nominated for Best First Feature; and director David Zellner and star Rinko Kikuchi got nods for Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter, which doesn’t even open theatrically until February. (And in case you’re wondering why The Grand Budapest HotelFoxcatcher, and Inherent Vice were left out of the competitive categories, it’s because, as Indiewire points out, such movies budgeted over $20 million are ineligible for consideration.)


Precursors, of course, do not always predict the Academy Awards. But especially in the years since the category was raised to a maximum of 10 films, the Independent Spirit Awards have often been a solid predictor of which indies might sneak into the Best Picture roster. (For example: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Black Swan, and Precious.) And when an indie-skewing movie takes the big prize, it often overlaps with the ISAs—in 2011 and 2013, the winners for Best Film also took home Best Picture (The Artist and 12 Years a Slave, respectively).

Which is to say that, looking at this year’s crop of Best Film nominees, we could already have a solid idea of what at least part of the Best Picture category will look like. Maybe one of them will go on to win. Will Birdman, Boyhood, Selma, Whiplash, or Love Is Strange be on that ballot next year? At this point, I’d bet all but the latter, which has yet to stir up a ton of Oscar momentum, have a pretty solid chance.


The Independent Spirit Awards will be announced on Feb. 21, the day before the 87th Academy Awards. Check out a list of some of the nods below, and the complete list here.


Best Feature

Love Is Strange

Best First Feature

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Dear White People
Obvious Child
She’s Lost Control

Best Male Lead Actor

André Benjamin, Jimi: All Is By My Side
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton, Birdman 
John Lithgow, Love is Strange
David Oyelowo, Selma

Best Female Lead Actor

Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant
Rinko Kikuchi, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Jenny Slate, Obvious Child
Tilda Swinton, Only Lovers Left Alive

Best Supporting Male Actor

Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Alfred Molina, Love is Strange
Edward Norton, Birdman 
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash


Best Supporting Female Actor

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Carmen Ejogo, Selma
Andrea Suarez Paz, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Emma Stone, Birdman 

Best Director

Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Ava DuVernay, Selma
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman 
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
David Zellner, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

Best Screenplay

Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, Big Eyes
J.C. Chandor, A Most Violent Year
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Jim Jarmusch, Only Lovers Left Alive
Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias, Love is Strange

Best First Screenplay

Desiree Akhavan, Appropriate Behavior
Sara Colanegelo, Little Accidents
Justin Lader, The One I Love
Anja Marquardt, She’s Lost Control
Justin Simien, Dear White People