Sat. Jul 11th, 2020

2016 Independent Spirit Award Winner Predictions: Spotlight’s Time to Shine

Spotlight (Open Road Films) should shine bright at the Independent Spirit Awards
Spotlight (Open Road Films) should shine bright at the 2016 Independent Spirit Awards


Last year, Birdman won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature and then the Oscar for Best Picture the next day. That film was up against two other Oscar Best Picture nominees (Boyhood and Whiplash). In fact, the blurred line of Independent Spirit and the Oscars was never more clear than last year. Not only did the top award mirror the Oscars, so did three of the four acting winners (only Eddie Redmayne didn’t as his film was ineligible), Cinematography, Editing, Documentary and Foreign Language Film (called International Film here).

This year, there is only one film nominated for Best Feature that is also Oscar nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and that’s Spotlight. Although it’s up against formidable competition, it should be a very easy winner here.

Here are my full winner predictions for the 2016 Independent Spirit Awards, which will take place on February 27, 2016. The ceremony will be broadcast live on IFC at 2 pm PT/5 pm ET.

Best Feature
Beasts of No Nation
Spotlight Predicted winner

As the only Oscar nominated Best Picture (Feature) of the bunch, Spotlight will be the winner.

Todd Haynes, Carol
Todd Haynes, Carol

Best Director
Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, Anomalisa
Cary Joji Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation
Todd Haynes, Carol Predicted winner
David Robert Mitchell, It Follows
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Sean Baker, Tangerine

This might be a tougher win for Tom McCarthy than Best Feature even though he’s the only Oscar-nominated Best Director. Major competition from all contenders here will make this a very close call. The Indie Spirits split last year, giving Richard Linklater the win for Boyhood (he was also Oscar nominated) and I’m going to predict that Todd Haynes wins for Carol. Haynes has been nominated in this category here five times before, winning once (for Far From Heaven). The film doesn’t have a lot of chances elsewhere and I am loathe to think that the film would once again be the nomination leader at an awards ceremony (BAFTA, the Golden Globes) and go home empty-handed. But, I won’t be surprised if it ends up McCarthy either.

Best Female Lead
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Rooney Mara, Carol
Bel Powley, The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Brie Larson, RoomPredicted winner
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Tangerine

Two Oscar nominees (in this category), including a former winner here (and at the Oscars) and this year’s Oscar frontrunner. Brie Larson should easily be able to add this award to her now very full and heavy shelf of accolades for Room.

Christopher Abbott, James White
Christopher Abbott, James White

Best Male Lead
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Christopher Abbott, James White Predicted winner
Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea
Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind


This feels like a close race between Attah, Segel and Abbott but I’m giving the edge to Abbott here.

Best Screenplay
Bone Tomahawk
The End of the Tour
Spotlight Predicted winner

Another relatively easy prediction. Spotlight‘s screenplay has been among its most rewarded aspect and it will sit well with its Best Feature win.

Mya Taylor, Tangerine
Mya Taylor, Tangerine

Best Supporting Female
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anomalisa
Marin Ireland, Glass Chin
Robin Bartlett, H.
Cynthia Nixon, James White
Mya Taylor, Tangerine Predicted winner


With no Oscar-nominated performance in the bunch, this could default to Jennifer Jason Leigh who is an Oscar nominee for The Hateful Eight. With all of Tangerine‘s nominations though this is the best place to reward the film (plus the progressive element of a trans winner) so Mya Taylor is my prediction.

Best Supporting Male
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation Predicted winner
Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Kevin Corrigan, Results
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes

Again, another category without an Oscar nominee but with Idris Elba being a SAG and Golden Globe nominee and BAFTA winner for this performance, he’s the clear frontrunner.

Best First Feature
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
James White Predicted winner
Manos Sucias
Songs My Brothers Taught Me

This and First Screenplay are tough. The Diary of a Teenage Girl is taking one of them, but not both. But, which one? I feel like this race is between that film and James White so if I predict James White then Diary gets First Screenplay over Room. Tough choices. But, that’s what I’m going with.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl
The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Best First Screenplay
The Diary of a Teenage Girl Predicted winner
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
The Mend


As mentioned above, this should go to The Diary of a Teenage Girl but I won’t be surprised for a moment if Room wins either.

Best Editing
Heaven Knows What
It Follows
Manos Sucias
Spotlight Predicted winner

This is a category that’s only been around for two years so there isn’t much data to go on although, both years the winner here was not the Best Feature winner and last year, just as at the Oscars, Birdman wasn’t even nominated. This feels like a very open race but I’m going to lean towards Spotlight with an It Follows spoiler.

Beasts of No Nation
Beasts of No Nation

Best Cinematography
Beasts of No NationPredicted winner
It Follows
Songs My Brothers Taught Me


This feels like a three-way race between Beasts, Carol and It Follows. I’ll go with Beasts of No Nation but with Carol as a very close spoiler.

Best Documentary
Best of Enemies
Heart of a Dog
The Look of Silence Predicted winner
The Russian Woodpecker

With only one Oscar nominee here I think this is a race between Heart of a Dog and The Look of Silence. The Act of Killing lost here two years ago to the eventual Oscar winner in this category so I’m predicting a bit of makeup for that.


Best International Film
Embrace of the Serpent
Mustang Predicted winner
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
Son of Saul


Amazingly, three films here are also Oscar-nominated for Foreign Language Film and although Son of Saul is the presumed frontrunner there, I think there could be a Mustang win in the cards here. It would be a very Indie Spirits thing to do.

Christmas, Again
Heaven Knows What Predicted winner
Out of My Hand

Really no clue but Heaven Knows What is nominated in other categories so that’s where I’ll go.

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD (previously announced)

Chloe Zhoa – Predicted winner
Felix Thompson
Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck

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