Film Independent Spirit Awards again celebrate non-studio movies

Aubrey Plaza hosts the 34th ceremony on IFC

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

With independent films prominent in the Oscars now, the Film Independent Spirit Awards offer a more logical start than ever to that weekend of honors.

Aubrey Plaza

IFC again televises the annual ceremony for movies made principally outside the studio system Saturday, Feb. 23, from a tent at the beach in Santa Monica, Calif. Aubrey Plaza (“Legion”) will host the 34th such event, and the vibe is sure to remain casual as many of the players in this film-award season gather.

The nominees for best documentary include “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” the acclaimed and financially successful profile of iconic children’s-show host Fred Rogers (“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”) that recently had its television premiere on both HBO and PBS. Its director, Morgan Neville, says, “I feel like there are probably better keepers of the flame about Fred, but he spoke to me in a way that is why I made the film. The fact that it spoke to other people was fortuitous.”

So was the film’s timing, since Neville reflects, “We don’t think enough about what we get out of things like public broadcasting or children’s television or moral principles. That all sounds very kind of high-minded, but that’s what Fred was. The power of the film is Fred’s power, which is the power of sincerity.”

Also up for best documentary are “Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” “Minding the Gap,” “Of Fathers and Sons,” “On Her Shoulders” and “Shirkers.” Following are the nominees in several other categories in the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Best feature:

  • “Eighth Grade”;
  • “First Reformed”;
  • “If Beale Street Could Talk”;
  • “Leave No Trace”;
  • “You Were Never Really Here.”

Best male lead:

  • John Cho, “Searching”;
  • Daveed Diggs, “Blindspotting”;
  • Ethan Hawke, “First Reformed”;
  • Christian Malheiros, “Socrates”;
  • Joaquin Phoenix, “You Were Never Really Here.”

Best female lead:

  • Glenn Close, “The Wife”;
  • Toni Collette, “Hereditary”;
  • Elsie Fisher, “Eighth Grade”;
  • Regina Hall, “Support the Girls”;
  • Helena Howard, “Madeline’s Madeline”;
  • Carey Mulligan, “Wildlife.”

Best director:

  • Debra Granik, “Leave No Trace”;
  • Barry Jenkins, “If Beale Street Could Talk”;
  • Tamara Jenkins, “Private Life”;
  • Lynne Ramsay, “You Were Never Really Here”;
  • Paul Schrader, “First Reformed.”
Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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