As 2015 draws to a close, the studios and distributors are waist deep in the process of pitching their prestigious titles for the glut of end of the year awards. As the voting window for various critics groups, guilds, and organizations draw near, we’re starting to get lists of contenders for the various trophies. Today arrives with the first major announcement of the season, as we now know the nominees for the 2016 Independent Spirit Awards.

Since first appearing in 1984, the Independent Spirit Awards have always celebrated the best of non-mainstream cinema—think of them as Oscar’s cool relative from out of town. As the realm of independent movies has broadened over the years, there’s bound to be some crossover with the more mainstream awards, but this is, as always, an intriguing list. Check out all of the nominees below.
BEST FEATURE
Anomalisa
Beasts of No Nation
Carol
Spotlight
Tangerine

BEST DIRECTOR
Cary Joji Fukunaga – Beasts of No Nation
Charlie Kaufman &
Duke Johnson – Anomalisa
David Robert Mitchell – It Follows
Sean Baker – Tangerine
Todd Haynes – Carol
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Bel Powley – The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Brie Larson – Room
Cate Blanchett – Carol
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez – Tangerine
Rooney Mara – Carol

BEST MALE LEAD
Abraham Attah – Beasts of No Nation
Ben Mendelsohn – Mississippi Grind
Christopher Abbott – James White
Jason Segel – The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon – Mediterranea

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Cynthia Nixon – James White
Jennifer Jason Leigh – Anomalisa
Marin Ireland – Glass Chin
Mya Taylor – Tangerine
Robin Bartlett – H.

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation
Kevin Corrigan – Results
Michael Shannon – 99 Homes
Paul Dano – Love & Mercy
Richard Jenkins – Bone Tomahawk

BEST SCREENPLAY
Anomalisa
Bone Tomahawk
Carol End of the Tour
Spotlight

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Best of Enemies
Heart of a Dog
Look of Silence
Meru
Russian Woodpecker
(T)error

BEST FIRST FEATURE
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
James White
Manos Sucas
Mediterranea
Songs My Brothers Taught Me

BEST EDITING
Beasts of No Nation
Heaven Knows What
It Follows
Room
Spotlight

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Beasts of No Nation
Carol
It Follows
Meadowland
Songs My Brothers Taught Me

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Embrace of the Serpent
Girlhood
Mustang
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
Son of Saul

JOHN CASSAVETTES AWARD (Best Feature Made For Under $5,000)
Advantageous
Christmas, Again
Heaven Knows What
Krisha
Out of My Hand

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD (Best Ensemble)
Spotlight

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

Todd Haynes period romance, Carol, and Cary Joji Fukunaga’s child-soldier drama, Beasts of No Nation, lead all nominees, with six nods apiece, and given the buzz surrounding each of them, that’s not a huge shock—though Abraham Attah, the 15-year-old star of Beasts, getting a nod for Best Actor is pretty cool, and he certainly gives an unforgettable performance.

While the likes of Carol Beast of No Nation, and Spotlight are likely to be in the conversation come Oscar time, there are a number of films on this list that won’t be, but that are still more than deserving of your attention. Sean Baker’s Tangerine, shot on an iPhone and following two transgender prostitutes on Christmas Eve mission, is unlike anything you’ll see here or anywhere else; Charlie Kaufman’s stop-motion animated Anomalisa also appears to be a film like few others in existence; and David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows took the horror genre in a new and interesting direction earlier this year. And there are a ton of other worthwhile films from the past year that you should check out when you have the chance.

More than anything, the Independent Spirit Awards are a celebration of films and filmmakers that try to do something new and different, and there are some true gems to be found here. The 31st award ceremony airs on IFC on February 27, 2016, the day before the Oscars. Is there anything on this list you’re particularly stoked it getting recognition? Let us know below.

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