Here Are The 2015 Independent Spirit Nominations!


Here are the 2015 Independent Spirit Nominations!  That’s right — Oscar season is officially here!  Soon, we will reach the point where every day, another group will be announcing their picks for the best of 2015 and the Oscar race will start to become a lot less cloudy.  Until then, we can look at the Independent Spirit Nominations and try to figure out what they all mean in the big scheme of things.

The two big indie best picture contenders — Carol and Spotlight — were nominated for multiple awards.  That’s to be expected.  If any film is going to benefit from the Spirit nominations, it will probably be Anomalisawhich is starting to look more and more like it might be a dark horse to score a best picture nominations.  As well, the Spirit nominations may serve to remind Academy members that Beasts of No Nation is one of the best films of the year.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the Spirit nominations!

Best Feature

Beasts of No Nation

Best Director

Sean Baker, Tangerine
Cary Joji Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation
Todd Haynes, Carol
Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, Anomalisa
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
David Robert Mitchell, It Follows

Best Screenplay

Charlie Kaufman, Anomalisa
Donald Margulies, The End of the Tour
Phyllis Nagy, Carol
Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, Spotlight
S. Craig Zahler, Bone Tomahawk

Best First Feature

The Diary of a Teenage Girl
James White
Manos Sucias
Songs My Brothers Taught Me

Best First Screenplay

Jesse Andrews, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Jonas Carpignano, Mediterranea
Emma Donoghue, Room
Marielle Heller, The Diary of a Teenage Girl
John Magary, Russell Harbaugh, Myna Joseph, The Mend

Best Male Lead

Christopher Abbott, James White
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea

Best Female Lead

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Bel Powley, The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Tangerine

Best Supporting Male

Kevin Corrigan, Results
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes

Best Supporting Female

Robin Bartlett, H.
Marin Ireland, Glass Chin
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anomalisa
Cynthia Nixon, James White
Mya Taylor, Tangerine

Best Documentary

Best of Enemies
Heart of a Dog
The Look of Silence
The Russian Woodpecker

Best International Film

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Embrace of the Serpent
Son of Saul

Best Cinematography

Beasts of No Nation
It Follows
Songs My Brothers Taught Me

Best Editing

Heaven Knows What
It Follows
Manos Sucias



John Cassavetes Award (Best Feature Under $500,000)

Christmas, Again
Heaven Knows What
Out of My Hand

Robert Altman Award (Best Ensemble)


Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award

Chloe Zhao
Felix Thompson
Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck

Piaget Producers Award 

Darren Dean
Mel Eslyn
Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith


Song of the Day: Tool – H.

For those of you who have yet to get the memo, music industry giants in 2013 decided that it was time for the 1990s to be cool again. I’m pretty goddamn stoked about it myself, and I hope the sort of neo-grunge/alternative that’s going to be really popular 3-4 years from now inspires a lot of talented musicians to crawl out of the woodwork and start producing quality uncastrated rock again. In the meantime, I’ve been dusting off my neigh-forgotten guitar and revisiting a lot of the bands from my high school days to see if they were really as great as I remembered. (Alice in Chains? Check. Rage Against the Machine? Holy mother of Check. Sublime? Bzzzz, back to the “nostalgia” m3u and dusty jewel case with you.)

There have been a few 90s bands that never really left my playlist all this time. Smashing Pumpkins’ catalog from Siamese Dream though Machina kept on rolling like they were all just released yesterday. Pearl Jam and Nirvana still found their way into Winamp from time to time. And I never quit listening to Tool. My Tool selection for the past decade though has consisted almost exclusively of the Opiate EP and Undertow–those nostalgic recordings that were inevitably rolling in the background every time I ever skipped school to play paintball, experimented with a new drug (I haven’t done any “drugs” since high school, but I must say tripping on shrooms completely changed my perspective on life in a positive way), or got drunk when it was still a novel experience.

When I was a teenager though, it was never Opiate or Undertow that I listened to at home. They were the party albums that all of my friends would play ad pleasant nauseam. In private, I listened to Ænima. I’d all but forgotten about it until a week ago. I’ve kept it on repeat while engaging in the oh-so-rebellious task of remodeling my kitchen, and wow… Fast-forward from having naively experienced a few hundred mass-marketed bands to having researched and intelligently engaged thousands of different acts, I have to say Ænima remains one of the greatest recordings I have ever heard.

Right now I’m peaking on Pushit. It was, alongside Jimmy and Third Eye, one of the tracks I pretty much ignored as a kid, and I’m now hearing it in a new light as one of the most overwhelming tracks on the album. I want to showcase H. though, because it was my favorite Tool song prior to the release of Lateralus (the way I connected with the lyrics to Lateralus’ title track at the time is difficult to describe and sadly lost to me now), and because I do still regard it as my favorite track on the album (Ænema comes pretty close).

The way Maynard’s vocals interplay with the instrumentation is absolutely beautiful; I think Ænima represents Tool’s peak as innovative song-writers, bridging the gap between their earlier edginess and their later brooding experimentalism, and no song captures that quite so extensively as H. The crushing chorus acts as cement to piece together Maynard’s vocals and Adam’s guitar at their most mutually fragile peak. The lyrics present a simple clash between emotions and wisdom under a veil so deliciously esoteric that it might feel personally and uniquely relevant to each individual listener in a legitimately different way:

What’s coming through is a lie.
What’s holding up is a mirror.
What’s singing songs is a snake,
Looking to turn my piss to wine.
They’re both totally void of hate,
But killing me just he same.
The snake behind me hisses what my damage could have been.
My blood before me begs me, open up my heart again.
And I feel this coming over like a storm again.
Venomous voice tempts me, drains me, bleeds me,
Leaves me cracked and empty,
Drags me down like some sweet gravity.
The snake behind me hisses what my damage could have been.
My blood before me begs me open up my heart again.
And I feel this coming over like a storm again.
I am too connected to you to slip away, fade away.
Days away I still feel you, touching me, changing me,
Considerately killing me.
Without the skin,
Here beneath the storm,
Under these tears,
The walls came down.
At last the snake has drowned,
And as I look in his eyes,
My fears begin to fade,
Recalling all of the times
I could have cried then.
I should have cried then.
As the walls come down,
And as I look in your eyes,
My fear begins to fade,
Recalling all of the times
I have died,
and will die.
It’s alright.
I don’t mind.
I am too connected to you to slip away, fade away.
Days away I still feel you, touching me, changing me,
And considerately killing me.