Moonlight

Each year, the Independent Spirit Awards honors the best in the world of independent film, while at the same time starting the wheels going for the season of awards voting at large. With big studios pictures and independent films racing towards the finish line known as the Academy Awards, the smaller portion of the equation gets the head start with the 32 year old tradition. Without further delay, here are the nominees fighting it out for independent glory.

BEST FEATURE
American Honey
Chronic
Jackie
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

BEST DIRECTOR
Andrea Arnold - American Honey
Barry Jenkins -- Moonlight
Pablo Larraín -- Jackie
Jeff Nichols -- Loving
Kelly Reichardt - Certain Women

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Annette Bening - 20th Century Women
Isabelle Huppert -- Elle
Sasha Lane - American Honey
Ruth Negga -- Loving
Natalie Portman -- Jackie

BEST MALE LEAD
Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea
David Harewood - Free In Deed
Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic
Jesse Plemons - Other People
Tim Roth -- Chronic

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Edwina Findley - Free In Deed
Paulina Garcia - Little Men
Lily Gladstone - Certain Women
Riley Keough - American Honey
Molly Shannon - Other People

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Ralph Fiennes - A Bigger Splash
Ben Foster - Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges - Manchester by the Sea
Shia LaBeouf - American Honey
Craig Robinson - Morris from America

BEST SCREENPLAY
Moonlight
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women
Little Men
Hell or High Water

BEST DOCUMENTARY
13th
I Am Not Your Negro
O.J.: Made in America
Sonita
Under the Sun

BEST FIRST FEATURE
The Childhood of a Leader
The Fits
Other People
Swiss Army Man
The Witch

BEST EDITING
Swiss Army Man
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Jackie

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Free In Deed
The Childhood of a Leader
The Eyes of My Mother
Moonlight
American Honey

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Aquarius
Chevalier
My Golden Days
Toni Erdmann
Under the Shadow

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (Best Feature Made For Under $5,000)
Free In Deed
Hunter Gatherer
Lovesong
Nakom
Spa Night

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD (Best Director / Casting Director / Ensemble)
Moonlight

KIEHL'S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Andrew Ahn
Claire Carré
Anna Rose Holmer
Ingrid Jungermann

Deadline broke the list of the Independent Spirit Awards, with a couple of long touted films taking their places at the prestige season starting line. Tied with 6 nominations, both Moonlight & American Honey are at the forefront of the race. Both have been low-key buzz drivers, with the former grabbing a lot of critical acclaim and the acclaimed Robert Altman Award, and the latter bringing actor Shia LaBeouf a nomination for Best Supporting Male. For an actor who thought he was going to be on the outs with the awards committees this year, that's not a bad start to something that could end up being much bigger. Meanwhile, fellow big talkers Manchester By The Sea and Jackie have five and four Independent Spirit Award nominations, respectively.

A glaring omission, and a possible indication on what its awards fortunes are going to amount to come Oscar season, is the former front-runner The Birth of A Nation. This must be dismaying for distributor Fox Searchlight, which went all in on Nat Parker's historical drama, in the hopes of cashing in on the immense buzz the film has cultivated at Sundance. However, the other side of the coin has seen fans of the criminally underseen Hell or High Water cheering for joy, as the film's nominations for Best Screenplay, Best Editing, and in the case of actor Ben Foster, Best Supporting Male, are already throwing coal into the film's awards season hype train.

Jackie Natalie Portman

While the nominations will certainly kindle the nomination committees for all the other big awards in town, the actual Independent Spirit Awards will take place on February 25th, airing live on IFC starting at 5 PM EST.

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