Coming off their record-breaking trip to the Oscars earlier this year, in which they won all “big six” awards for acting, directing, and Best Picture, A24 clocked another impressive list of nominations for the 2023 Independent Spirit Awards. They earned eleven nominations overall, with five going to Past Lives, which tied with American Fiction and May December for the most nominations for a single film. The other Best Feature nominations include All of Us Strangers, Passages, and We Grown Now.


The Indies focus on lower budgeted films—qualified as films with a budget of $30 million or less after tax incentives—so there’s no Barbie or Oppenheimer or Poor Things or Killers of the Flower Moon here, which also makes the Indies something of an outlier during awards season, opening the door to smaller films the Oscars often overlook (like We Grown Now). Yes, sometimes a film wins big at the Indies only to go on to win big at the Oscars, as Everything Everywhere All At Once did last year, but that isn’t always the case. Past Lives is a contender, but in a year crowded with so many big name, big budget films with massive marketing resources behind them, Celine Song’s film can use all the help it can get to stand out from the pack. Besides Best Feature, Past Lives scored nods for writer-director Celine Song and actors Greta Lee and Teo Yoo. 


But American Fiction also gets a boost. Cord Jefferson’s directorial debut won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF, an Oscar bellwether. On top of Best Feature, it also scored a screenplay nod for Cord Jefferson, and acting nods for Jeffrey Wright, Sterling K. Brown, and Erika Alexander. Fiction hasn’t made much noise yet—it’s due in theaters in a couple weeks—but it has been one of the films hanging in the “persistent buzz” section of awards season, particularly for Jeffrey Wright, who could run an “it’s his time” campaign for Best Actor. This is definitely a film to keep an eye on.

Interestingly, The Holdovers got four nominations, including a Best Supporting Performance nod for Da’Vine Joy Randolph, but Paul Giamatti missed Best Lead Performance. Like the Gotham Awards, the Indies combined their acting categories to eliminate the gender line, which leads to quirky results sometimes, like excluding Giamatti despite his being heavily favored for an Oscar nomination. 


On the TV side, the Indies have little impact, despite the delay of the Emmys from September to January. The ceremony was delayed, but voting was not, and final ballots were cast in August. Therefore, nominations for shows like Beef, Jury Duty, The Last of Us, and I’m A Virgo won’t have any relevance to the Emmys. Although I did note Lewis Pullman scored a nod for Lessons In Chemistry, which makes me wonder how many people actually saw that show, and if he might be an Emmy contender next year. (Also, Laurel Parmet got a Best First Screenplay nod for The Starling Girl, in which Pullman is devastating as a super-religious groomer. Dude has range.) Ditto for Benny Safdie being the lone nomination from The Curse, I wonder if the extreme unlikability of Nathan Fielder’s and Emma Stone’s characters might be a hurdle for Emmy voters next year.


The Indies are always relatively fun, compared to the bigger, more serious awards shows like the Oscars and BAFTAs. This year is so cutthroat, though, it feels like just one more campaign stop, especially as Oscar voters will be casting their final ballots just two days after the Indies take place. The Indies are in the thick of campaign strategy this year, in any number of highly competitive categories. It puts a lot of pressure on the fun little awards show on the beach.

You can see the full list of nominees here.

Attached - Greta Lee at last night's ELLE Women in Hollywood celebration.