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Independent Spirit Awards: '12 Years a Slave' and 'Nebraska' lead nominations

By Anthony Breznican, EW
November 26, 2013 -- Updated 2304 GMT (0704 HKT)
Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup and Michael Fassbender stars as Edwin Epps in
Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup and Michael Fassbender stars as Edwin Epps in "12 Years a Slave."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The awards are distributed by a non-profit arts organization
  • "12 Years a Slave" has the most nominations
  • James Gandolfini has been nominated posthumously

(EW.com) -- 12 Years a Slave may have the most nominations, but Nebraska will probably benefit the most from its Independent Spirit Awards recognition — which give a much needed boost to low-budget movies competing for Oscar attention.

The epic slavery drama collected a leading seven nominations, while Nebraska was right behind it with six. Both films are in the running for Best Feature, alongside All Is Lost, Frances Ha, and Inside Llewyn Davis.

Fruitvale Station, this year's grand jury winner at the Sundance Film Festival, was honored in a separate category for "first feature," which also included Blue Caprice, Concussion, Una Noche, and Wadjda.

The Independent Spirit Awards, distributed by the non-profit arts organization Film Independent, are only a sporadic indicator for the Academy Awards, but can help cast a spotlight on scrappier, more intimate films that don't always have huge marketing budgets.

Acclaim for the intense and harrowing 12 Years a Slave has already secured it a solid place in the running for this year's Best Picture Oscar, and Spirit nominations were expected for director Steve McQueen, screenwriter John Ridley, cinematographer Sean Bobbit, lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, and supporting actors Lupita Nyong'o and Michael Fassbender. It would only have been a shock if one of them had been snubbed.

But Nebraska — director Alexander Payne's black-and-white dramedy about a terse Midwestern family — is only a possible Oscar contender for Best Picture, and these six nominations will reinforce its bona fides and perhaps add some box office momentum just as the movie is gradually expanding beyond a handful of theaters. The film had nods for director, first screenplay for Bob Nelson, lead actor Bruce Dern, and supporting actors June Squibb and Will Forte. The one surprise omission was the lack of a cinematography mention for Phedon Papamichael's silvery images of the desolate rural landscapes.

A few films that could have fared better: Inside Llewyn Davis, another movie on the Oscar bubble, which really could have used a director or screenplay bid for Joel and Ethan Coen; Dallas Buyers Club, which was only recognized for its two actors (lead actor Matthew McConaughey and supporting actor Jared Leto), and Before Midnight, which got only female lead for Julie Delpy and best screenplay.

Other curiosities among the nominees included a posthumous honor for James Gandolfini's supporting performance as a middle-aged lonelyheart in Enough Said, a best director bid for Upstream Color's Shane Carruth, even though the poetic science fiction drama was named in only one other category (best editing), and a best first screenplay mention for Don Jon writer-director-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

BEST FEATURE

12 Years a Slave

All Is Lost

Frances Ha

Inside Llewyn Davis

Nebraska

BEST DIRECTOR

Upstream Color, Shane Carruth

All is Lost, J.C. Chandor

12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen

Mud, Jeff Nichols

Nebraska, Alexander Payne

BEST SCREENPLAY

Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen

Before Midnight, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke & Richard Linklater

Enough Said, Nicole Holofcener

The Spectacular Now, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber

12 Years a Slave, John Ridley

BEST FIRST FEATURE

Blue Caprice

Concussion

Fruitvale Station

Una Noche

Wadjda

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY

In A World, Lake Bell

Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Nebraska, Bob Nelson

Afternoon Delight, Jill Soloway

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, Michael Starrbury

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD -- (Best Feature made for under $500,000)

Computer Chess

Crystal Fairy

Museum Hours

Pit Stop

This is Martin Bonner

BEST FEMALE LEAD

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Julie Delpy, Before Midnight

Gaby Hoffmann, Crystal Fairy

Brie Larson, Short Term 12

Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now

BEST MALE LEAD

Bruce Dern, Nebraska

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis

Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Robert Redford, All Is Lost

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

Melonie Diaz, Fruitvale Station

Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave

Yolonda Ross, Go For Sisters

June Squibb, Nebraska

BEST SUPPORTING MALE

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Will Forte, Nebraska

James Gandolfini, Enough Said

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Keith Stanfield, Short Term 12

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Sean Bobbitt, 12 Years a Slave

Benoit Debie, Spring Breakers

Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis

Frank G. DeMarco, All Is Lost

Matthias Grunsky, Computer Chess

BEST EDITING

Shane Carruth & David Lowery, Upstream Color

Jem Cohen & Marc Vives, Museum Hours

Jennifer Lame, Frances Ha

Cindy Lee, Una Noche

Nat Sanders, Short Term 12

BEST DOCUMENTARY

20 Feet From Stardom

After Tiller

Gideon's Army

The Act of Killing

The Square

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM

A Touch of Sin (China)

Blue is the Warmest Color (France)

Gloria (Chile)

The Great Beauty (Italy)

The Hunt (Denmark)

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD -- (Ensemble Cast)

Mud

17th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD

Toby Halbrooks & James M. Johnston

Jacob Jaffke

Andrea Roa

Frederick Thornton

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD

My Sister's Quinceañera, director Aaron Douglas Johnston

Newlyweeds, director Shaka King

The Foxy Merkins, director Madeline Olnek

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD

Kalyanee Mam, A River Changes Course

Jason Osder, Let the Fire Burn

Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez, Manakamana

See the original story at EW.com.

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