Natalie Portman, Shia LaBeouf, “Moonlight” and More Nab Independent Spirit Awards Nominations

And we’re off! The Independent Spirit Awards are the first major ceremony to announce their nominations. Moonlight, American Honey, and Jackie are some of the big winners already.


Well, Awards season is officially upon us. The Independent Spirit Awards announced their nominations today, one of the first semi-major galas to do so, even if it traditionally marches to the beat of its own drummer. The annual ceremony only recognizes films with budgets under $20 million, and, save for a few categories, keeps its sights firmly set only on American-made movies.

Which means it’s not by any means a perfect predictor of the Oscars race; many films sure to grab Academy Awards aren’t even eligible. What the Independent Spirit Awards does do is build momentum for some of the smaller pictures fighting it out in the wider awards show circuit, while also of course shining a spotlight on work that may not be recognized elsewhere.

This year, Moonlight and American Honey lead the pack with six nominations apiece. Manchester by the Sea nabbed five, while Other People, Jackie and Free in Deed received four each.

Many of these films may very well go on to wider awards season glory. The strong performance of Jackie in the nominations certainly bodes well for Natalie Portman’s chances at a second Oscar, this time for a chilling portrayal of former First Lady Jackie Kennedy following the assassination of JFK. Both Moonlight and Manchester By the Sea are battling it out for the title of “the little movie that could” this awards season, and though Moonlight eked out one more nomination, they’re both climbing up from the same foothold.

The Spirit nominators also appeared to go wild for Other People, the directing debut of Saturday Night Live‘s current co-head writer Chris Kelly, featuring Molly Shannon in a harrowing turn as a mother battling cancer — with a sense of humor in tact, of course. It might not make it further into the awards circuit, but perhaps it’s worth a watch On Demand with your family this week.

The 3rd Independent Spirit Awards are set to be awarded on February 25th, 2017, and the ceremony will be broadcast live on IFC. As per tradition, the ceremony will take place just one day before the Academy Awards, in a tent on the Santa Monica beach.

Here’re the highlights from the nominations, along with some links to our previous coverage and interviews with the nominees:


American Honey



Manchester by the Sea



Annette Bening, 20th Century Women

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Sasha Lane, American Honey

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie


Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

David Harewood, Free In Deed

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Jesse Plemons, Other People

Tim Roth, Chronic


Edwina Findley, Free In Deed

Paulina Garcia, Little Men

Lily Gladstone, Certain Women

Riley Keough, American Honey

Molly Shannon, Other People


Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash

Ben Foster, Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Shia LaBeouf, American Honey

Craig Robinson, Morris from America


The Childhood of a Leader Director: Brady Corbet Producers: Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre, Chris Coen, Ron Curtis, Helena Danielsson, Mona Fastvold, István Major

The Fits Director/Producer: Anna Rose Holmer Producer: Lisa Kjerulff

Other People Director: Chris Kelly Producers: Sam Bisbee, Adam Scott, Naomi Scott

Swiss Army Man Directors: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert Producers: Miranda Bailey, Lawrence Inglee, Lauren Mann, Amanda Marshall, Eyal Rimmon, Jonathan Wang

The Witch Director: Robert Eggers Producers: Daniel Bekerman, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Jodi Redmond, Rodrigo Teixeira

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD for the best feature made for under $500,000.

Free In Deed Writer/Director: Jake Mahaffy Producers: Mike Bowes, Mike S. Ryan, Brent Stiefel

Hunter Gatherer Writer/Director: Josh Locy Producers: Michael Covino, April Lamb, Sara Murphy, Isaiah Smallman

Lovesong Writer/Director: So Yong Kim Writer/Producer: Bradley Rust Gray Producers: David Hansen, Alex Lipschultz, Johnny Mac

Nakom Writer/Director/Producer: TW Pittman Director/Producer: Kelly Daniela Norris Writer/Producer: Isaac Adakudugu Producer: Giovanni Ximénez

Spa Night Writer/Director: Andrew Ahn Producers: David Ariniello, Giulia Caruso, Ki Jin Kim, Kelly Thomas


Andrea Arnold, American Honey

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Pablo Larraín, Jackie

Jeff Nichols, Loving

Kelly Reichardt, Certain Women


Barry Jenkins Story By Tarell Alvin McCraney Moonlight

Kenneth Lonergan Manchester by the Sea

Mike Mills 20th Century Women

Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias Little Men

Taylor Sheridan Hell or High Water


Robert Eggers The Witch

Chris Kelly Other People

Adam Mansbach Barry

Stella Meghie Jean of the Joneses

Craig Shilowich Christine


Ava Berkofsky Free In Deed

Lol Crawley The Childhood of a Leader

Zach Kuperstein The Eyes of My Mother

James Laxton Moonlight

Robbie Ryan American Honey


Matthew Hannam Swiss Army Man

Jennifer Lame Manchester by the Sea

Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders Moonlight

Jake Roberts Hell or High Water

Sebastián Sepúlveda Jackie

You can find the rest of the nominations here.