The Film Independent Spirit Awards, Hollywood’s leading indie film honors, stayed true to its name this year, bestowing a leading seven nominations to Janicza Bravo’s wild road trip saga “Zola,” including best feature, best director and best female lead for Taylour Paige. “The Novice,” a sports drama and psychological thriller from first-time filmmaker Lauren Hadaway, followed with five.
Nominations for the 37th edition of the awards were announced Tuesday morning by Naomi Watts, Regina Hall and Beanie Feldstein.
“Zola,” which was based on a viral twitter thread, was nominated for best feature alongside “The Novice,” the Italian-language drama “A Chiara,” “C’mon C’mon,” about a young boy and his uncle, and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Elena Ferrante adaptation, “The Lost Daughter,” a meditation on motherhood and rage, which picked up four nods, including director, screenplay and supporting female actor for Jessie Buckley.
“Wild Indian,” a thriller about a long-ago murder of a classmate from another first-time filmmaker Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr., also got four nominations.
Nominees for female lead include Paige (“Zola”), Isabelle Fuhrman (“The Novice”), Brittany S. Hall (“Test Pattern”), Patti Harrison (“Together Together”) and Kali Reis (“Catch the Fair One”). Male lead nominees are Clifton Collins Jr. (“Jockey”), Frankie Faison (“The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain”), Michael Greyeyes (“Wild Indian”), Udo Kier (“Swan Song”) and Simon Rex (“Red Rocket”).
It was a good morning overall for “Zola” studio and distributor A24, whose films received a total 13 nominations. A24’s slate included “The Humans,” Mike Mills’ “C’mon C’mon,” which got best director and screenplay, and the past-his-prime adult entertainer drama “Red Rocket.” Neon, which distributed “A Chiara” and “Pig,” and Netflix, which is behind “Passing” and “The Lost Daughter,” both got nine.
Best documentary nominees include Questlove’s “Summer of Soul,” Robert Greene’s “Procession,” Nanfu Wang’s “In the Same Breath,” Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s “Flee” and Jessica Kingdon’s “Ascension.” Critics’ awards darling “Drive My Car,” from Ryusuke Hamaguchi, was among the films nominated for best international feature, alongside Pedro Almodóvar’s “Parallel Mothers” and Céline Sciamma’s “Petit Maman.”
Historically, the Spirit Awards are held on the Saturday afternoon before the Oscars, but this year it will take place on the evening of March 6, a few weeks before the Oscars on March 27. After going virtual earlier this year, the show is returning to an in-person event, beachside in Santa Monica.
The show can sometimes serve as a preview of what will happen on Oscar night. Earlier this year, Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland” picked up best feature and director at the Indie Spirits before going on to win the top prizes at the Oscars. “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” “Birdman” and “12 Years a Slave” also all won at the Spirits before taking best picture at the Oscars.
Because of their production budgets, many top awards contenders this year were not eligible, including “Belfast,” “King Richard” and “The Power of the Dog.” To be considered, films must have cost less than $22.5 million to make.
The Spirit Awards also started honoring television shows earlier this year. This year’s scripted series nominees include “Blindspotting,” “It’s a Sin,” “Reservation Dogs,” “The Underground Railroad” and “We Are Lady Parts.”
The 37th Film Independent Spirit Awards will be broadcast on IFC starting at 8 p.m. ET. on March 6.