2014 Spirit Awards Nominations

The Independent Spirit Awards were never supposed to be a harbinger of the Oscars, but in recent years, the booze-infused celebration in Santa Monica — held the night before the Academy Awards — had become just that. All the acting winners at last year’s Oscar ceremony picked up a Spirit first, and so did best picture champ “12 Years a Slave.”

So it’s particularly confusing that this year’s Spirit nominations completely shut out what is supposed to be one of the season’s heavyweights: The Weinstein Co.’s “The Imitation Game.” It wasn’t a good day for Harvey Weinstein in general, since his entire awards season slate of “St. Vincent,” “Begin Again” and “Big Eyes” (which only got a screenplay nod) was left out.

While the Oscar voters and Spirit nominating committee don’t overlap, in a competitive awards season, these nominations do matter. It gently nudges voters on which screeners they should watch next and shapes the awards season narrative.

Here are the biggest surprises:

Nightcrawler” sneaks to the top That “Birdman” (which picked up six nominations), “Boyhood” (five) and “Selma” (five) would be the frontrunners at the Spirits was expected. But “Nightcrawler,” which also grabbed five nominations, is the underdog winner from today. In fact, it’s possible that Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a LA paparazzo, could be a dark horse best picture nominee, since fans of the film are enthusiastic and it will be helped by the Oscars’ weighted ballots. After picking up a Spirit nod, Jake Gyllenhaal also becomes a serious contender in the best actor race.

Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game” completely shut out Considered by many to be the frontrunner for Oscar, “The Imitation Game” should have earned nominations in all the top categories, including best feature, actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), supporting actress (Keira Knightley) and screenplay. The Weinstein Company often uses the Spirit Awards as a launchpad for their Oscar hopefuls — see “The Artist,” “Silver Linings Playbook” — but despite being eligible, “The Imitation Game” was completely shut out. If anybody is trying to meet up with Cumberbatch on the day before the Oscars, he’s free now.

Love is Strange” gets some love The other winner from today’s nominations is Ira Sachs’ story about gay marriage between an elderly couple. The well-reviewed drama from Sony Pictures Classics fell short at the box office, but the Spirits could give it new momentum (it was among the first screeners sent out) with four nominations, including best feature, actor John Lithgow, supporting actor Alfred Molina and screenplay. The conventional wisdom had been that Lithgow was supporting and Molina was lead, so this new wrinkle could confuse voters — or help Molina launch a supporting campaign. The script by Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias also gets a boost for best original screenplay.

Bill Murray doesn’t make the cut Murray says he’s not campaigning for the Oscars, yet the Weistein Co. is still hoping that his strongest performance since “Lost in Translation” could get him in the best actor race. A Spirit nod would have helped, but a Golden Globe nomination could still rescue this campaign.

“Big Eyes” nominated for best screenplay The Tim Burton biopic about Margaret Keane was supposed to be an awards season favorite, until it got hit with negative buzz from early screenings. Both Amy Adams (who was an early Spirits favorite with “Junebug”) and Christoph Waltz lost out in the performance categories. But given that, it is surprising that the film managed to snag a screenplay nomination.

These three under-the-radar performances Though some big names were overlooked in the lead actor category, Andre Benjamin was a surprise nominee for his work as the rock legend in “Jimi: All Is By My Side.” Similarly, Rinko Kikuchi scored a lead actress nom for “Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter” and Andrea Suarez Paz was recognized in supporting actress for the virtually unknown “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors.”

Miles Teller, “Whiplash” and Oscar Isaac, “A Most Violent Year” With such a crowded field, there were bound to be same names left off the best actor ballot. Both these performances seem tailor-made for the Spirit Awards.

Reese Witherspoon for “Wild” and Jennifer Aniston in “Cake” left off the menu Despite being an Oscar frontrunner for best actress, Witherspoon failed to score a nod for “Wild.” In fact, “Wild” was completely shut out. And though the star of “Friends” landed a Spirit nomination in 2003 for her role in “The Good Girl.” She wasn’t so lucky this year, even though she’s been steadfastly campaigning for this gritty drama, where she plays a sufferer of chronic pain.

“Begin Again” This musical comedy starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo may have been too mainstream for the Spirit Awards. It remains as one of the most underrated movies of the year.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw, “Beyond the Lights” The Brit had two fantastic performances in 2014, beginning with the historical drama “Belle.” That film was not eligible this year, but her star turn in “Beyond the Lights” was, and still got overlooked.

Foxcatcher” and “Inherent Vice” were ineligible but still honored These films were deemed ineligible for individual awards consideration — likely due to budgetary reasons (the cap is $20 million, although exceptions are often made — see “Silver Linings Playbook.”) But “Foxcatcher” and “Inherent Vice” are being recognized with special awards. “Inherent Vice” will receive the Robert Altman award for the ensemble cast and casting director. And “Foxcatcher” earned something called a “Special Distinction Award,” which feels like a consolation prize.

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Coming Attractions week of August 22

sincity

Some of Sin City's most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with a few of its more reviled inhabitants.
Directors:  Frank Miller | Robert Rodriguez

 

[youtube=http://youtu.be/nqRRF5y94uE?t=6s]

if i stay

Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined.
Director:  R.J. Cutler

[youtube=http://youtu.be/wH6PNeTy6Nc]

 

are you here

 

Two childhood best friends embark on a road trip back to their hometown after one of them learns he has inherited a large sum of money from his recently deceased estranged father.
Director:  Matthew Weiner
Stars:  Owen WilsonZach GalifianakisAmy PoehlerJay Gates

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMtNpu6xBvU

 

standstall

 

The journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport.
Director:  Thomas Carter
Stars:  Jim CaviezelAlexander LudwigMichael ChiklisLaura Dern

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT0aE4iAnJo

 

lovis is strange

 

After Ben and George get married, George is fired from his teaching post, forcing them to stay with friends separately while they sell their place and look for cheaper housing -- a situation that weighs heavily on all involved.
Director:  Ira Sachs

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdfA5Ff5e78

 

the one i love

Struggling with a marriage on the brink of falling apart, a couple escapes for a weekend in pursuit of their better selves, only to discover an unusual dilemma that awaits them.
Director:  Charlie McDowell

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCOvhojlZzQ

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Los Angeles Film Festival: Coffee Talk Session

IMG_7192Over the weekend, I attended a few Coffee Talk sessions with Directors and Actors.  The Director panel included Kimberly Peirce ("Boys Don't Cry"), Jonathan Dayton, Valarie Faris ("Little Miss Sunshine") and Debra Granak ("Winters Bone") who discussed mostly about how as filmmakers it it much easier to get an independent film done vs. major studios and encouraged the crowd to investigate doing more work in documentaries.  The Actors panel included Demian Bichir ("A Better Life" and "Che") Alfred Molina ("Frida" and "An Education"), Olivia Munn ("The Newsroom") and moderator Abigail Spencer ("Rectify").  It was a very entertaining panel as the actors revealed their journey from past to present with Demian proclaiming to be the"guacamole king" back in the day, Abigail "the surf queen of Gulf-Breeze Florida", Olivia disclosing her background in journalism and Alfred recounted his encounter with Steven Spielberg for the first time.  The biggest advice they all imparted was for actors to just find out what is unique about them and use it to their advantage.  "Just because you want it, just because you have a dream, just because you work really hard, it doesn't mean that it works out, so you just have to work as hard as you can, keep your head down, say thank you as much as possible. Nothing is ever too small … just be part of something great," Munn said. "Love this job, however cruel it might seem at times, always love it, because eventually, it will love you back," Molina added.

Olivia-Munn-Michael-Kors-CTAE-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO-3The event I desperately wanted to attend, but conflicted with another session I attended called Women Who Call the Shots, which was amazing!!!  The panelists included Gina Prince-Blythewood "Love & Basketball", "The Secret Life of Bees" "Disappearing Acts",  Marta Kauffman "Friends", Nicole Holofcener "Enough Said", Debra Granik "Winter's Bone" and focused mostly on the previous successes, introduced upcoming projects and discussion about their experiences in the industry.  The most prolific thing I took away from this session was when Gina Prince Blythwood said, "Talent has no gender" and discussed the difficulty of fighting for talent as a director against the studio's choice.  As was the case for her getting the studio to sign off on Gugu Mbatha-Raw ("Belle") for her coming project "Beyond The Lights".  Holofcener said. “We’re being celebrated and at the same time, we’re being segregated.… One day I would love to not be on a woman panel. And at the same time, I’m honored and feel incredibly fortunate to be here.”   Kauffman, who is wickedly funny and what I like to call the "last of the hippies", revealed her next project is the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, which will star Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. She shared her formula for a great sitcom, namely, “having a really good writing staff, a really good cast, and a story that people would like to watch while they’re in their pajamas.”IMG_7153

Here is a link to the the session with John Singleton that I missed, but wanted to share via THR...

“My goal is to make the blackest movie ever.”—John Singleton at LA Film Fest http://bit.ly/laffjohnsingleton

 

 

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!