Spirit Award nominees: brilliance on a ($19 million) shoestring


Earlier this week, Film Independent announced their nominations for the 2008

Spirit Awards. I’m still puzzled by last year’s decision

to curtail the name (originally the Independent Spirit Awards), and I always have trouble fathoming the cost of film (these particular budgets have to be under $20 million, which seems

simultaneously huge and meager), but I appreciate that the nominations provide a relatively reliable guide to indie work worthy of recognition.

This year’s most-nominated films are I’m Not There, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Juno, but it’s an altogether strong crowd, including some films

popular with AfterEllen.com readers.

Along with Julie Delpy‘s Best First Feature nod for 2 Days in Paris and the

heartbreaking and well-deserved acknowledgment for Adrienne Shelly‘s Waitress screenplay, there are such usual suspects as


Cate Blanchett for her turn as Bob Dylan,

wacky-straight Parker Posey (Broken English), and

reportedly now-straight Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart).

One of the nominations that makes me the happiest is for the talented, boys’ underwear-stealing

Ellen Page, whose titular role in Juno is earning her

solid reviews. I haven’t seen it yet, but

if Hard Candy is any indication, Page is tremendously talented, and — at the very least —

queer friendly. It’s too bad that her flick Jack and Diane is

apparently delayed, because she and costar

Olivia Thirlby make the lesbian vampire theme sound much less bizarre than it does in the film’s description, included in a

Best. Lesbian. Week. Ever. way back in January. For now, check out the Juno trailer (with bonus

Allison Janney!) and tell me if I’m imagining the likeness between this pregnant teen and Jena Malone in



In addition to Page’s nomination, Juno is up for Best Feature, Best Director (Jason Reitman), and Best First Screenplay (the hilarious

Diablo Cody).

Although its place in the Best Foreign Film category is a bit strange, I’m also very pleased to see Irish musical Once on the ballot. This film is quite possibly

my favorite of the year so far; it is understated, romantic, and genuinely touching, and the music is superb and organically integrated into the story. This one is actually out on DVD,

so no need to wait to check out the beautiful Markéta Irglová in her first film role (she is a musician and singer; Irglová and costar

Glen Hansard have released the album The Swell Season, in addition to the Once soundtrack and a tune for I’m Not There).

Watch the trailer below, then visit the official site to download the song “Falling Slowly.”


I have yet to see The Savages, but I’m not surprised that Tamara Jenkins is up for Best Screenplay and Best Director. That said, I expected Laura

Linney to receive a nomination for Best Actress in Jenkins’ film. Likewise, I’m surprised that Tabu didn’t earn a Best Supporting nod for her stunning turn in

The Namesake (which, for me, was otherwise inconsistent). Even still, I don’t tend to exclaim “What about…!?”

with the Spirit Awards the way I do with so many other nomination lists. They were smart enough to give Little Miss Sunshine Best Feature last year, and that will keep them in my good graces at least

until the 2008 awards are given on Feb. 23 next year.

I haven’t seen as many films this year as I am used to, so perhaps I’ve missed some significant talents. Post your thoughts

on the Spirit ballot in the comments, and tell us what’s missing! Then put Once on your Netflix queue or just buy a copy. (Really. Send me the bill if you don’t love it.)

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