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.
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.