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

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
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