Show Your Indie Spirit

ISA’s biggest snubs, surprises, and standouts

The Hollywood Foreign Press gave its big Golden Globes speech last week, but it’s the indie world we’d like to discuss.

Along with the tick we got from reading Film Independent’s list of nominees (smile, frown, wince, eyebrow raise). Most of the time, our predictions fare well. This go-round, however, we were bombarded with a few surprises and a ton of snubbery. Let’s start there.

Complete Shutouts
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
The languid, Southern Gothic drama (Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster), which received multiple awards at Sundance, gets no love here — not even for director. David Lowery topped/appeared on almost every 2013 “directors to watch” list. What gives?

Drinking Buddies
Despite Katherine Heigl’s best attempts, a rom com can still be solid and affecting. Case in point: Joe Swanberg’s largely improvised (okay, so no Best Screenwriting nod), shoestring film starring Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson as best friends brewing the perfect relationship, except for two problems: their S.O.s (Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick).

Prince Avalanche
Emile Hirsch is surprisingly funny, Paul Rudd is a national treasure, Explosions in the Sky should score everything, and director David Gordon Green turns the backwoods of Texas into a place we’d like to set up camp. Just make sure you see this little gem.

The Place Beyond the Pines
But Ryan Gosling is in it. With a face tatt. We don’t understand. Director Derek Cianfrance’s follow-up to Blue Valentine, a multigenerational epic about guilt and sins of the father, stars Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes; is quite possibly one of the more underrated films this year; and if nothing else deserves a cinematography shout-out — even if it’s from us.

And now for the most underrated movie of the year: Director Danny Boyle’s frenetic, hypnotic, keep-you-guessing art heist flick. Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, everyone’s on their game. Especially James McAvoy. The film is a masterpiece.

There. We’ve said our piece. As for what is nominated, there are a few surprises, both happy and not-so. Herewith, our bipolar report.

frances ha!

Best Feature
Happy: Two are black and white films (Frances Ha and Nebraska). When’s the last time that happened?
Unhappy: All Is Lost is fine, but we expected to see The Spectacular Now, Mud, or Dallas Buyers Club fill that fifth spot.

Best Director
Happy: Shane Carruth. Upstream Color made waves at Sundance, but we weren’t sure it had enough endurance to last through the year. Bravo.
Unhappy: No Coens? They just made folk music cool again.

Best Screenplay
Happy: Julie Delpy (Before Midnight) and Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said) represent.
Unhappy: We kinda wish Hannah Fidell (A Teacher) made the grade.

Best First Feature
Happy: Concussion and Wadjda (the first Saudi film directed by a woman).
Unhappy: The Kings of Summer, Sun Don’t Shine, and Escape from Tomorrow all deserve shout-outs.

Best First Screenplay
Happy: Lake Bell and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Unhappy: That Lake Bell and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are up against each other.

Best Cinematography
Happy: Finally, Spring Breakers gets its name called.
Unhappy: Bradford Young (Pariah, Mother of George), who won cinematographer awards for two films (including Saints) at this year’s Sundance, gets nothing for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints here.

frances ha!

Best Female Lead
Happy: Newbies Brie Larson and Shailene Woodley hold their own next to Cate Blanchett.
Unhappy: Gaby Hoffmann? We love a good comeback, but her naked-lunatic performance in Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus is no match for Robin Weigert in Concussion. Or Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Enough Said. Or Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha. Or Sharni Vinson in You’re Next.

Best Male Lead
Happy: It has six — not five — nominees (Michael B. Jordan, Robert Redford, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Bruce Dern, Oscar Isaac, Matthew McConaughey).
Unhappy: We wish one of them were James McAvoy (Trance).

Best Supporting Female
Happy: Yolonda Ross gets a nom for Go for Sisters, a teensy film that hardly saw a theater screen.
Unhappy: No Oprah. (Apparently The Butler, though it belongs to The Weinstein Company, which is known for distributing high-quality indies, didn’t meet the budget rules.)

Best Supporting Male
Happy: Keith Stanfield, the troubled kid in Short Term 12, is a huge, welcome surprise.
Unhappy: Franco. Where’s Franco (Spring Breakers)? Even more, where the hell is Ben Foster for Saints?

Best Documentary
Happy: Twenty Feet from Stardom (Judith Hill, Darlene Love) hits a high note.
Unhappy: Festival favorites Room 237, Stories We Tell, Blackfish, and Cutie and the Boxer all miss out.

Best International Film
Happy: Woohoo for The Hunt. But the category belongs to Blue Is the Warmest Color.
Unhappy: We never expected In the House to get nominated, but still — it deserves some ISA real estate.

For the complete list of nominees, go to spiritawards.com.

Photos: Courtesy of Radius-TWC; Daniel McFadden / Courtesy of Relativity Media; Courtesy of A24 Films; Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures; Courtesy of Pine District; Courtesy of Cinedigm