‘Moonrise Kingdom,’ ‘Silver Linings’ Lead Spirit Awards Nominations

Who says all indie films have to be depressing? With five nominations apiece, crowd-pleasers Silver Linings Playbook and Moonrise Kingdom became the leading contenders in the 28th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards. The films’ respective directors, David O. Russell and Wes Anderson, also scored nominations for their work.

The Spirit Awards, whose stated objective is to “celebrate artist-driven filmmaking and recognize the finest achievements of today’s independent filmmakers,” found plenty of other films to celebrate as well. Sundance favorite Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was made on a shoestring budget, earned four nominations for its producers, its director Benh Zeitlin, its cinematographer Ben Rishardson and its lead actress Quvenzhané Wallis.

Other films to be honored at this year’s Spirit Awards include Keep the Lights On, Ira Sachs’ under-the-radar gay drama, which also received an impressive four nominations. Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere, the only film to be nominated for four prizes that did not include Best Feature or Best Director,  was honored for its lead performance by Emayatzy Corinealdi, as well as supporting performances from David Oyelowo and Lorraine Toussaint.

Perhaps the most noticeable snub on this otherwise unsurprising list of nominations is the exclusion of Beasts of the Southern Wild‘s Dwight Henry, whose role as a dying alcoholic father earned almost as much acclaim this summer as Wallis’ performance.

Below are the nominations for this year’s Spirit Awards, which were announced this morning (Source: IndieWire). Which movies and performances would you like to see win a Spirit Award this year?


  • Beasts of the Southern Wild (PRODUCERS: Michael Gottwald, Dan Janvey & Josh Penn)
  • Bernie (PRODUCERS: Liz Glotzer, Richard Linklater, David McFadzean, Dete Meserve, Judd Payne, Celine Rattray, Martin Shafer, Ginger Sledge, Matt Williams)
  • Keep the Lights On (PRODUCERS: Marie Therese Guirgis, Lucas Joaquin, Ira Sachs)
  • Moonrise Kingdom (PRODUCERS: Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales, Scott Rudin)
  • Silver Linings Playbook (PRODUCERS: Bruce Cohen, Donna Gigliotti, Jonathan Gordon)


  • 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 (DIRECTOR: Rama Burshtein; PRODUCER: Assaf Amir)
  • Gimme the Loot (DIRECTOR: Adam Leon; PRODUCERS: Dominic Buchanan, Natalie Difford, Jamund Washington)
  • Safety Not Guaranteed (DIRECTOR: Colin Trevorrow; PRODUCERS: Derek Connolly, Stephanie Langhoff, Peter Saraf, Colin Trevorrow, Marc Turtletaub)
  • Sound of My Voice (DIRECTOR: Zal Batmanglij; PRODUCERS: Brit Marling, Hans Ritter, Shelley Surpin)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (DIRECTOR: Stephen Chbosky; PRODUCERS: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Russell Smith)


  • 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

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000. Award given to the writer, director, and producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.

  • 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 Abramović: 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 (DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Peter Nicks; PRODUCERS: Linda Davis, William B. Hirsch)

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)

  • Amour (France) — DIRECTOR: Michael Haneke
  • Once Upon A Time in Anatolia (Turkey) — DIRECTOR: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
  • Rust And Bone (France/Belgium) — DIRECTOR: Jacques Audiard
  • Sister (Switzerland) — DIRECTOR: Ursula Meier
  • War Witch (Democratic Republic of Congo) — DIRECTOR: Kim Nguyen

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.

  • Leviathan, 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; Casting Director: Julia Kim; Ensemble Cast: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Karren Karagulian, Stella Maeve, James Ransone)

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  • I was kind of hoping for more notable surprises in these nominations, particularly anything for “Damsels in Distress” or “Take This Waltz”. Both of those saw their awards chances dissipate with their exclusions from the Spirit nods. I also don’t quite buy “Silver Linings Playbook” as an independent feature, mostly for the big talent involved in front and behind the camera. I love the film, but it just doesn’t belong here.

    As for the pleasant surprises, I was happy to see Julia Loktev nominated for “The Loneliest Planet”, as well as Rama Burshtein for outstanding debut work with “Fill the Void”. McConaughey is great in “Magic Mike”, but it makes me wonder why the film isn’t nominated in any other categories. Michael Pena being in for “End of Watch”, but not Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t make much sense. And I’m most happy to see “Sister” acknowledged in the Foreign Language category. A worthy nomination in case it doesn’t make the cut for Oscar.

  • Such an impressive list of nominees this year. Very happy with Moonrise Kingdom and Beasts success. I wonder why they didn’t nominate The Master? Glad to see Bernie, Black, McCounaughey, Wallis getting the appreciation. I wasn’t going to watch many of the movies nominated here but i got a reason now.

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