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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
Anomalisa
Beasts of No Nation
Carol
Spotlight Predicted winner
Tangerine

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
Anomalisa
Bone Tomahawk
Carol
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
Mediterranea
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
Mediterranea
The Mend
Room

 

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
Room
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
Carol
It Follows
Meadowland
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
Meru
The Russian Woodpecker
(T)error

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.

Mustang
Mustang

Best International Film
Embrace of the Serpent
Girlhood
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.

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
Advantageous
Christmas, Again
Heaven Knows What Predicted winner
Krisha
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)
Spotlight

KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Chloe Zhoa – Predicted winner
Felix Thompson
Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck

About Erik Anderson

Erik thanks his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched the Academy Awards together since he was in the single digits; making lists, rankings and predictions throughout the show. This led him down the path to obsessing about awards. Much later, he found himself at GoldDerby, led by Tom O’Neill and then migrated over to Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), headed up by Sasha Stone before breaking off to create AwardsWatch. He is a member of the International Cinephile Society, GALECA (The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics), the International Press Academy and is the founder/owner of AwardsWatch.

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