Remember when “The Artist” won the New York Film Critics Circle‘s award for best picture this afternoon? Well, that wasn’t the only honor the silent movie earned today.
“The Artist” also received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best picture, along with indie efforts “Beginners,” “The Descendants,” “50/50” and “Drive.”
“Drive”? Did I just say “Drive”? Does this mean Ryan Gosling was nominated? Oh, yes it does; he was nominated for best actor for his portrayal of an ’80s electronica-loving stunt driver in that film, as was director Nicolas Winding Refn and co-star Albert Brooks.
The key point here, though, is that two movies emerged as leaders of the Spirit Awards pack: “The Artist” and “Take Shelter,” which each earned five nominations.
Those nominations are significant because, while the Independent Spirits are focused on indie efforts, including films made independently and later distributed by major studios, there is often significant overlap between the Oscars and the Spirits, traditionally held the day before the Academy Awards. The key winners at last year’s Spirits — “Black Swan,” Natalie Portman, James Franco, John Hawkes and “Black Swan” director Darren Aronofsky — were all Oscar nominees.
The full list of the 2012 Spirit Award nominees is available online for your perusal and dissection. In the interest of blog-post brevity, I’ll focus here on five nominations I was particularly happy to see and six semi-surprising snubs.
Spirit Award nominations I was happy to see
Ryan Gosling: Did I mention Gosling was nominated? Oh, that’s right, I did. The odds of the Sexiest Man Alive runner-up receiving an Oscar nomination for “Drive” seem semi-slim, so it was nice to see him recognized here. Also, the mention of his name gives the Internet something to do, and that’s always nice.
Will Reiser for “50/50”: The cancer survivor and “50/50” scribe wasn’t nominated in the best screenplay category, but he did make the cut for best first screenplay. And it’s well-deserved, too, as is the nomination for “50/50” supporting actress Anjelica Huston.
Mike Cahill and Brit Marling, “Another Earth”: As a Washingtonian, it’s great to see these one-time locals — Cahill and Marling graduated from Georgetown University — receive a nomination for their highbrow sci-fi work. They, too, were nominated for best first screenplay as well as best first feature for “Another Earth.”
Elizabeth Olsen, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”: Given the buzz about her work in this film, it’s no surprise to see the other Olsen sister get a nomination for best actress. I thought this was one of the most authentic, lived-in performances of the year.
Tom McCarthy, “Win Win”: The writer-director’s “Win Win” is like all of his films: small in scale, character-driven and critically acclaimed. Despite all that, it will probably get overlooked by bigger cinematic fish come Oscar time; happily, the Spirits recognized McCarthy’s effort with a best screenplay nod.
Six Spirit Award snubs
George Clooney: “The Descendants” was nominated for best picture, best supporting actress (Shailene Woodley) best director (Alexander Payne) and best screenplay. But Clooney failed to make the best actor cut.
“Like Crazy”: The love story starring break-out actress Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin was celebrated at Sundance and well-marketed as an indie gem. But it earned no nominations at the Spirit Awards. A head-scratcher.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: As noted above, “50/50” was hardly ignored by the Spirits. So I suspect that Gordon-Levitt, like Clooney, may have just failed to make the best actor cut, which is a shame.
“Midnight in Paris”: The surprise hit of the summer and the most lucrative Woody Allen film of all time earned only two nominations, for cinematography and supporting actor Corey Stoll, the man who brought Ernest Hemingway to life again.
Glenn Close: There has been some Oscar buzz about her role as a woman pretending to be a man in “Albert Nobbs.” She was passed over but her co-star Janet McTeer managed to get a nomination for supporting actress.
“We Need to Talk About Kevin”: This unrelentingly bleak film has received good notices, particularly for Tilda Swinton’s performance as a mother handling an unspeakable sense of guilt. But it received no nominations. John C. Reilly, who co-stars with Swinton, got one, but surprisingly, that was for his supporting turn in “Cedar Rapids.” “Cedar Rapids”? Didn’t see that one coming.