By David Poland email@example.com
Dependent Spirit Awards Winners
As is now the annual tradition, Film INDependent has nominated the most expense, highest-profile “indies” possible and turned out a list of Oscar’s second place finishers, with one or two exceptions… for a couple of Oscar winners.
And as is the annual tradition, I find myself frustrated both by the nominations, which are as narrow-minded as The Academy’s, and by my pleasure in celebrating the work that has been nominated. It makes it hard to speak to how ridiculous it is to get an annual list that is so amazingly un-independent. And then you get a race oddly loaded with unexpected choices… like leaving Glenn Close and Kirsten Dunst out of Best Actress while nominating a film that has no distributor and another that hasn’t been released. I am not “unhappy with the nominees.” But I am continually shocked by how this show doesn’t push forward the agenda of independent cinema. It’s not like we’re still in the period when the indie world was so fat and happy that simple self-congratulatory events had real value.
As I say every year… celebrate Searchlight, Focus, and Sony Classics for the great work they do. Include The Weinsteins and Lionsgate and Summit. And then celebrate independent film, where Roadside and FilmDistrict and IFC and Magnolia are the big distributors. I feel like I am having a conversation with Jack Valenti about the NC-17. Just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean there is not a solution that does a much better job of celebrating the films and distributors and the ideas of independence that really need to be supported.
Can I tell you whether The Artist or The Descendants will win Best Picture and Best Director? No. But one of them is 98% likely to be the winner. And if it’s The Artist, than Descendants wins Screenplay. If it’s Descendants, than I would count on Mike Mills or Tom McCarthy winning screenplay.
Martha Marcy May Marlene wins Best First Feature, unless Margin Call gathers a lot more steam. Margin Call will likely be beat out by 50/50 for First Screenplay. Pariah wins the Cassavetes.
They might as well ship an award to Michelle Williams now, while Jean Dujardin needs to watch out for American movie star Ryan Gosling to sneak in and steal Best Actor. Albert Brooks will win Best Supporting Actor… unless the jungle drums beat out “Chris Plummer is taking home the Oscar.” And Jessica Chastain will take the award home for whichever movie they nominated her for.
Darius Khondji wins for cinematography because his is the only name voters will recognize. And that’s nice, since the film wasn’t good enough, the director wasn’t good enough, and the script wasn’t good enough for nominations. Poor Woody.
Melancholia and Shame get ghettoized as “foreign,” one of the worst parts of the Indie Spirits process, which goes against the spirit of independents by cordoning off work because of where it was made or financed.
Darfung Dennis is up for a cash prize for his doc… but not for the doc prize. Oy. (Different committees for the two things… though there is no overlap, coincidentally.)
It really comes down to this list…
DISTRIBUTOR – # OF NOMINATIONS
Fox Searchlight – 14
Sony Pictures Classics – 9
Focus Features – 6
The Weinstein Company – 6
FilmDistrict – 4
Roadside Attractions – 4
Summit Entertainment – 4
I honor and respect all of these companies. And no other companies have as many as 4 nominations.
Yes, these are the biggest “indies,” and so on some level it makes sense. But… with all the great product that IFC and Magnolia put out as true indies, eight films with no distribution matched Magnolia’s take of one nomination and IFC got zippo. Kinda defies logic, even if it can be rationalized. (And God knows, it will be rationalized.)
My question is, if this award event can be postulated as having any other consistent guiding principle than riding on Oscar’s coattails, what is it? That is, aside from having a nice party and honoring a lot of talented people… both of which I would consider a side result… and certainly the TV buyers do as well.