The 2013 Independent Spirit Award Nominations Are Here!

The Oscar race begins and Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook are leading the pack.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani

Oscar time is upon us, and the opening salvo has been volleyed thanks to The Independent Spirit Awards, which have just announced their nominations for 2013. It's a particularly good day for Moonrise Kingdom and Silver Linings Playbook, two potential Oscar contenders which both walked away with five nominations apiece, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay nods. Following closely behind them is The Beasts of the Southern Wild, a 2012 Sundance Festival favorite with an impressive amount of awards season buzz this year. 

The Independent Spirit Awards are not the most prominent Oscar prognosticator around – the various Guild Awards nominations will give us a clearer view of where the Academy is leaning this year – since they are exclusively focused in independent productions. Major awards season contenders like Les Miserables, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and The Hobbit need not apply. But the Oscars always finds room to reward independent productions at their annual ceremony, and these three films in particular have emerged as strong contenders. It may be a sigh of relief for the makers of Moonrise Kingdom, a film considered to have been hampered by a release date months in advance of the "proper" Oscar season.

In particular we're paying close attention to some of the acting nominees, many of which were considered worthy of awards consideration but remained question marks due to the low profile of their productions. Matthew McConaughey, generally considered to be having the best calendar year of his acting career, received two nominations: Best Male Lead for Killer Joe, and Best Supporting Male for Magic Mike. It could be the kind of success story – handsome mainstream actor makes good in independent productions – that the Academy likes to reward. Jennifer Lawrence confirmed her place as a major Oscar contender with a nomination for Best Female Lead in Silver Linings Playbook. John Hawkes and Helen Hunt both received acting nominations for The Sessions. Michael Pena earned a Best Supporting Male nomination for his memorable turn in the cop drama End of Watch, cementing his position as a true contender, and Ann Dowd was nominated in the Best Supporting Female category for the excellent Compliance, which may settle some debate over whether her performance belongs in the Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress categories.

The biggest surprises, as far as we're concerned, were the strong showings for Richard Linklater's Bernie, a dark comedy that earned nominations for Best Feature and Best Male Lead, for Jack Black, and the Best Supporting Male Nomination for Bruce Willis in Moonrise Kingdom, a film that many believed would be sitting out the acting categories this awards season. Well deserved nominations the lot of them, but they were not considered sure things. The Oscar landscape may be shifting somewhat, but time will tell where the critics awards, guild awards and Academy Awards are leaning this year.

The complete list of Independent Spirit Awards nominations for 2013 is below (formatting via AwardsDaily):


Beasts of the Southern Wild
Keep the Lights On
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook

Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
Julia Loktev, The Loneliest Planet
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Ira Sachs, Keep the Lights On
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
Zoe Kazan, Ruby Sparks
Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Ira Sachs, Keep the Lights On

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
Fill the Void
Gimme the Loot
Safety Not Guaranteed
Sound of My Voice
The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Rama Burshtein, Fill the Void
Derek Connolly, Safety Not Guaranteed
Christopher Ford, Robot & Frank
Rashida Jones & Will McCormack, Celeste and Jesse Forever
Jonathan Lisecki, Gayby

Breakfast with Curtis, WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Laura Colella
Middle of Nowhere, WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Ava DuVernay, PRODUCERS: Howard Barish, Paul Garnes,
Mosquita y Mari, WRITER/DIRECTOR: Aurora Guerrero, PRODUCER: Chad Burris
Starlet, WRITER/DIRECTOR: Sean Baker, PRODUCERS: Blake Ashman-Kipervaser, Kevin Chinoy, Patrick Cunningham, Chris Maybach, Francesca Silvestri
The Color Wheel, WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Alex Ross Perry, WRITER: Carlen Altman

Linda Cardellini, Return
Emayatzy Corinealdi, Middle of Nowhere
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Smashed

Jack Black, Bernie
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Thure Lindhardt, Keep the Lights On
Matthew McConaughey, Killer Joe
Wendell Pierce, Four

Rosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister's Sister
Ann Dowd, Compliance
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Brit Marling, Sound of My Voice
Lorraine Toussaint, Middle of Nowhere

Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike
David Oyelowo, Middle of Nowhere
Michael Péna, End of Watch
Sam Rockwell, Seven Psychopaths
Bruce Willis, Moonrise Kingdom

Yoni Brook, Valley of Saints
Lol Crawley, Here
Ben Richardson, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Roman Vasyanov, End of Watch
Robert Yeoman, Moonrise Kingdom

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)
How to Survive a Plague
DIRECTOR: David France
PRODUCERS: David France, Howard Gertler

Marina Abramoviæ: The Artist is Present
DIRECTOR: Matthew Akers
PRODUCERS: Maro Chermayeff, Jeff Dupre

The Central Park Five
DIRECTORS/PRODUCERS: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon

The Invisible War
DIRECTOR: Kirby Dick
PRODUCERS: Tanner King Barklow, Amy Ziering

The Waiting Room
PRODUCERS: Linda Davis, William B. Hirsch

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)
Once Upon A Time in Anatolia
Rust And Bone
War Witch

16th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 16th annual Piaget Producers Award 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.

Nobody Walks PRODUCER: Alicia Van Couvering
Prince Avalanche, PRODUCER: Derrick Tseng
Stones in the Sun, PRODUCER: Mynette Louie

19th ANNUAL SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 19th annual Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

Pincus, DIRECTOR: David Fenster
Gimme the Loot, DIRECTOR: Adam Leon
Electrick Children, DIRECTOR: Rebecca Thomas

STELLA ARTOIS TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 18th 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.

DIRECTOR: Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
The Waiting Room, DIRECTOR: Peter Nicks
Only the Young, DIRECTOR: Jason Tippet & Elizabeth Mims

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – (Given to one film's director, casting director, and
its ensemble cast)
Starlet, Director: Sean Baker


William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline's Film Channel and co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani