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Independent Spirit Award Winner Predictions: Will it be Moonlight or Manchester by the Sea?

Will it be Moonlight or Manchester at the 32nd Indie Spirit Awards?

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The 32nd Film Independent Spirit Awards are this Saturday, the day before the Oscars as they traditionally do, and there are (also traditionally now) a boatload of Oscar nominees vying for awards here as well. Last year, Spotlight cleaned up, winning Best Feature, Director, Editing, Screenplay and the Robert Altman Award for its ensemble. It went on to win Best Picture and Original Screenplay at the Oscars the next day.

Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea are the two main horses competing at both the Indie Spirits and the Oscars and they do battle here in multiple categories. The Indie Spirits could spread the wealth between the two or tip its hand to one. Moonlight has already been awarded the Robert Altman Award for its cast and therefore is not nominated in the acting categories yet still earned five nominations total (the same as Manchester where three of its five nominations are for acting).

The other big nominee here is American Honey, which earned the most nominations (6) but feels like it could go home empty-handed. It just doesn’t seem like the favorite anywhere and the Indie Spirits do often go with an Oscar-nominated film or performance over a non-nominated one. Supporting Male is a place where I could see that go American Honey‘s way. Even though Manchester‘s Lucas Hedges is nominated both here and at the Oscars it would be very Indie Spirits to give Shia LaBeouf the win. Cinematography is also a possibility if they don’t go all in for Moonlight. If American Honey does have a play on Saturday it’s likely to be one of those two categories.

Barring a delicious upset on Oscar Sunday, this is Isabelle Huppert’s best shot at another televised win and speech. She won the Golden Globe for Elle in over Natalie Portman in Jackie (who is nominated here) but wasn’t nominated for SAG and wasn’t eligible for BAFTA. The love for her performance is still the talk of the town and the Indie Spirits is exactly the type of place for a win like this.

Supporting Female is the only acting category to not have an Oscar nominee among them and this feels really good for Lily Gladstone (Certain Women). But, I won’t be totally shocked if Molly Shannon (Other People) wins either.

The Spirit Awards will air live on Saturday, February 25th at 5pm EST/2pm PST. It will air on IFC and be hosted by John Mulvaney and Nick Kroll. Presenters include Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Chastain, Kirsten Dunst, Jon Hamm, Taraji P. Henson, Danny McBride, Janelle Monáe, David Oyelowo, Aubrey Plaza and Edgar Ramírez.

For the first time ever the entire Spirit Awards ceremony will be available to stream online. The entire broadcast will be available to live-stream on Sundance Now and available on-demand shortly after the broadcast.

Here are my winner predictions for the 32nd Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Best Feature
American Honey
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight – predicted winner

Best Director
Andrea Arnold (American Honey)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) – predicted winner
Pablo Larraín (Jackie)
Jeff Nichols (Loving)
Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women)

Best First Feature
The Childhood of a Leader
The Fits
Other People
Swiss Army Man
The Witch – predicted winner

Best Male Lead
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) – predicted winner
David Harewood (Free in Deed)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Jesse Plemons (Other People)
Tim Roth (Chronic)

Best Female Lead
Annette Bening (20th Century Women)
Isabelle Huppert (Elle) – predicted winner
Sasha Lane (American Honey)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Best Supporting Male
Ralph Fiennes (A Bigger Splash)
Ben Foster (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) – predicted winner
Shia LaBeouf (American Honey)
Craig Robinson (Morris from America)

Best Supporting Female
Edwina Findley (Free in Deed)
Paulina Garcia (Little Men)
Lily Gladstone (Certain Women) – predicted winner
Riley Keough (American Honey)
Molly Shannon (Other People)

Best Screenplay
Moonlight – predicted winner
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women
Little Men
Hell or High Water

Best First Screenplay
The Witch
Other People
Jean of the Joneses
Christine – predicted winner

Best International Film
My Golden Days
Toni Erdmann – predicted winner
Under the Shadow

Best Documentary Feature
I Am Not Your Negro
O.J.: Made in America – predicted winner
Under the Sun

Best Cinematography
Free in Deed
The Childhood of a Leader
Eyes of My Mother
Moonlight – predicted winner
American Honey

Best Editing
Swiss Army Man
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight – predicted winner
Hell or High Water

John Cassavetes Award
Free in Deed
Hunter Gatherer
Spa Night – predicted winner

Robert Altman Award

Piaget Producers Award
Lisa Kjerulff (The Fits) – predicted winner
Jordana Mollick (Hello, My Name is Doris)
Melody C. Roscher and Craig Shilowich (Christine)

Truer Than Fiction Award
Kristi Jacobson (Solitary)
Sara Jordeno (Kiki)
Nanfu Wang (Holligan Sparrow) – predicted winner

Someone to Watch Award
Andrew Ahn (Spa Night)
Claire Carre (Embers)
Anna Rose Holmer (The Fits) – predicted winner
Ingrid Jungermann (Women Who Kill)

Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson is the founder/owner and Editor-in-Chief of AwardsWatch and has always loved all things Oscar, having watched the Academy Awards since he was in 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 in film school and the film forums of GoldDerby, and then migrated over to the former Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), before breaking off to create AwardsWatch in 2013. He is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, accredited by the Cannes Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and more, is a member of the International Cinephile Society (ICS), The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics (GALECA), Hollywood Critics Association (HCA) and the International Press Academy. Among his many achieved goals with AwardsWatch, he has given a platform to underrepresented writers and critics and supplied them with access to film festivals and the industry and calls the Bay Area his home where he lives with his husband and son.

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