A24 Leads 35th Film Independent Spirit Award Nominations

     November 21, 2019


The 2020 Film Independent Spirit Award Nominations were announced today, reminding us that there’s still great work being done that isn’t part of a brand recognized franchise with a bloated budget. Or a prestige cable series, for that matter.

Not surprisingly, A24 has the most to celebrate, with 18 total nominations spread out over 7 films. Robert Eggers’ excellent and wild sophomore feature The Lighthouse, and the much anticipated Uncut Gems, from Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie, lead the pack, with five nominations each.

Film Independent President Josh Welsh framed the 35th annual ceremony in this way:

“The Film Independent Spirit Awards celebrate the best films of the year – films characterized by creative independence and original, provocative subject matter, as well as diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision. At a time when the film business is undergoing such change and challenges, it’s important to loudly celebrate the work itself – the films! – and to recognize 2019 as a year of bold, audacious and accomplished filmmaking. That’s what the Spirit Awards are all about.”

Even though independent cinema still operates at the mercy of financiers, producers, and distributors, it’s still a place where fresh voices can be heard the loudest—where you might see something you’ve truly never seen before.


Image via Fox Searchlight Pictures

Though I’m in the minority, Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life looks especially promising to me. Its Best Feature nomination suggests the reclusive director may have incorporated a bit more plot to go with his usual stunning imagery this time around. With strong reviews thus far, let’s hope it has more in common with his earlier work than his last three meandering efforts.

You can check out the full list of nominees below. Winners will be announced at the Spirit Awards on Saturday, February 8, 2020.

BEST FEATURE (Award given to the producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)

A Hidden Life

Producers: Elisabeth Bentley, Dario Bergesio, Grant Hill, Josh Jeter


Producers: Timur Bekbosunov, Julian Cautherley, Bronwyn Cornelius, Peter Wong

The Farewell

Producers: Anita Gou, Daniele Melia, Andrew Miano, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Lulu

Wang, Chris Weitz, Jane Zheng

Marriage Story

Producers: Noah Baumbach, David Heyman


Image via A24

Uncut Gems

Producers: Eli Bush, Sebastian Bear-McClard, Scott Rudin

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)


Director: Olivia Wilde

Producers: Chelsea Barnard, David Distenfeld, Jessica Elbaum, Megan Ellison, Katie Silberman

The Climb

Director/Producer: Michael Angelo Covino

Producers: Noah Lang, Kyle Marvin


Director: Kent Jones

Producers: Luca Borghese, Ben Howe, Caroline Kaplan, Oren Moverman

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Director/Producer: Joe Talbot

Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Khaliah Neal, Christina Oh


Image via Focus Features

The Mustang

Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre

Producer: Ilan Goldman

See You Yesterday

Director: Stefon Bristol

Producer: Spike Lee

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000 (Award given to the writer, director and producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)

Burning Cane

Writer/Director/Producer: Phillip Youmans

Producers: Ojo Akinlana, Jakob Johnson, Karen Kaia Livers, Mose Mayer, Wendell Pierce, Isaac Webb, Cassandra Youmans


Writer/Director: Tom Quinn

Producers: Joshua Blum, Alexandra Byer, Craig Shilowich, Matthew Thurm

Give Me Liberty

Writer/Director/Producer: Kirill Mikhanovsky

Writer/Producer: Alice Austen

Producers: Val Abel, Wally Hall, Michael Manasseri, George Rush, Sergey Shtern


Writer/Director/Producer: Rashaad Ernesto Green

Writer: Zora Howard

Producer: Darren Dean, Joy Ganes

Wild Nights With Emily

Writer/Director/Producer: Madeleine Olnek

Producers: Anna Margarita Albelo, Casper Andreas, Max Rifkind-Barron


Alma Har’el

Honey Boy


Image via STX Entertainment

Lorene Scafaria


Julius Onah


Robert Eggers

The Lighthouse

Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie

Uncut Gems


Noah Baumbach

Marriage Story

Jason Begue, Shawn Snyder

To Dust

Ronald Bronstein & Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie

Uncut Gems

Chinonye Chukwu


Tarell Alvin McCraney

High Flying Bird


Fredrica Bailey & Stefon Bristol

See You Yesterday

Hannah Bos & Paul Thureen


Bridget Savage Cole & Danielle Krudy

Blow the Man Down

Jocelyn DeBoer & Dawn Luebbe

Greener Grass

James Montague & Craig W. Sanger

The Vast of Night


Todd Banhazl


Jarin Blaschke

The Lighthouse

Natasha Braier

Honey Boy

Chananun Chotrungroj

The Third Wife


Image via A24

Pawel Pogorzelski



Julie Béziau

The Third Wife

Ronald Bronstein & Benny Safdie

Uncut Gems

Tyler L. Cook

Sword of Trust

Louise Ford

The Lighthouse

Kirill Mikhanovsky

Give Me Liberty


Karen Allen


Hong Chau


Elisabeth Moss

Her Smell

Mary Kay Place



Image via Neon/Sundance Institute

Alfre Woodard


Renée Zellweger



Chris Galust

Give Me Liberty

Kelvin Harrison Jr.


Robert Pattinson

The Lighthouse

Matthias Schoenaerts

The Mustang

Adam Sandler

Uncut Gems


Jennifer Lopez


Taylor Russell


Lauren “LoLo” Spencer

Give Me Liberty

Octavia Spencer


Zhao Shuzhen

The Farewell


Willem Dafoe

The Lighthouse

Noah Jupe

Honey Boy

Shia LaBeouf

Honey Boy

Jonathan Majors

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Wendell Pierce

Burning Cane

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast

Marriage Story

Director: Noah Baumbach

Casting Directors: Douglas Aibel, Francine Maisler

Ensemble Cast: Alan Alda, Laura Dern, Adam Driver, Julie Hagerty, Scarlett Johansson,

Ray Liotta, Azhy Robertson, Merritt Wever

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)

American Factory

Director/Producer: Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert

Producers: Julie Parker Benello, Jeff Reichert

Apollo 11

Director/Producer: Todd Douglas Miller

Producers: Evan Krauss, Thomas Baxley Petersen

For Sama

Director: Edward Watts

Director/Producer: Waad al-Kateab


Director: Tamara Kotevska

Director/Producer: Ljubo Stefanov

Producer: Atanas Georgiev

Island of the Hungry Ghosts

Director/Producer: Gabrielle Brady

Producers: Gizem Acarla, Samm Haillay, Alex Kelly, Alexander Wadouh

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)

Invisible Life


Director: Karim Aïnouz

Les Misérables


Director: Ladj Ly


South Korea

Director: Bong Joon-Ho

Portrait of a Lady on Fire


Director: Céline Sciamma



Director: Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio L.

The Souvenir

United Kingdom

Director: Joanna Hogg

BONNIE AWARD – Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo joined American Airlines in 1973 at age 24, becoming the first female pilot to fly for a major U.S. airline. In her honor, the third Bonnie Award will recognize a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant, sponsored by American Airlines.

Marielle Heller

Kelly Reichardt

Lulu Wang

PRODUCERS AWARD – The 23rd annual Producers Award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

Mollye Asher

Krista Parris

Ryan Zacarias

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 26th annual Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

Rashaad Ernesto Green

Director of Premature

Ash Mayfair

Director of The Third Wife

Joe Talbot

Director of The Last Black Man in San Francisco

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 25th annual Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

Khalik Allah

Director of Black Mother

Davy Rothbart

Director of 17 Blocks

Nadia Shihab

Director of Jaddoland

Erick Stoll & Chase Whiteside

Director of América

Latest News