a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

jackie-tourThe Indie Spirit Awards announced their nominations today. So, what does it mean, these days? Not much. But something, but…well, in terms of influencing the Oscars, really not that much. Unless you’re Ben Foster and I’ll try to explain why.

Most of these worthy Indies get a shout out, maybe a slight nudge into bigger distribution, bigger recognition than they would have otherwise, but it serves to illuminate Oscars voters as they sit home for the holidays in Aspen, Bel Air or wherever, as to which DVDs of Oscar movies under consideration in their Oscar pile, which believe me grows and grows like the Grinch, at this time of year. It tells them what to watch and what to skip as to what’s been presented to them so far.

The Indie Spirit Awards, and the Gothams, bless their feuding hearts, tell Oscar voters what to watch this year, and this year it’s resoundingly for “Manchester by the Sea” and also “Moonlight”, as expected, but several things didn’t happen as planned. Like the ascendance of “Jackie,”which got a plethora of nominations besides Natalie Portman as Best Actress. It also got Best Picture, Best Director(!) and more.

I think the Indies giving an ensemble award to the entire cast of “Moonlight,” good as they may be, cuts into their individually getting any nomination here. (They aren’t eligible for separate awards. Just one.) While their director GLBT African-American breakthrough writer/ director Barry Jenkins, helps him  towards a screenplay Oscar nomination, but not necessarily as a director.(Different branches at the Academy. VERY different, and separate too from the massive Actors Branch.)

There are two female directors nominated and I am SURE that they won’t be come Oscar nomination Day. They are for sure most likely not in, while the much-liked and respected Kenneth Lonergan of “Manchester” and also, probably Martin Scorsese for “Silence,” will get included instead of the women directors, worthy though they may be. Andrea Arnold and Kelly Reichardt are the ladies in question. And their films “American Honey” and “Certain Women” which I admired greatly while covering it at the NYFF.

Pablo Lorain’s shocking (to many, but not to me) nomination for Best Director for his superb, blood-curdling, but at the same time sensitive helming of “Jackie” is very likely the Man of the Hour, and the VERY snobby, insular Director’s Branch of the Academy is going to like Lorrain a lot. Leaving Jenkins to probably win Best Director at the Indies, while the Academy skunks “Moonlight” because it’s too-too GAY.

Spreading the actors into an ensemble, may mean lazy Oscar voters won’t even take the time to find out who Naomie Harris is, who she’s playing or why they should nominate her. I don’t think “Moonlight” is going to be watched. It’s “Carol” all over again. And that stand up and Out Lesbian love story was something they weren’t going to nominate for Best Picture. The two lead actresses, sure. Big stars like Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, with name recognition value. But who the hell is Naomie Harris?

This helps Mahershala Ali in Supporting because the Indies MAY encourage(Six nominations for “Moonlight” the most this year) the tired-eyes AMPAS voters, MAY watch the first 15-30 minutes of the film before they decide it’s too GAY for them, and everyone’s a crack head. But Mahershala’s character dominates those precious beginning minutes quite beautifully. And if they’ve been paying attention, they’ll find out that he’s also in real life a Muslim. DONE. And he may win in this category. Academy, in this election year, giving a main Oscar to a Muslim actor of color would make a HUUUUUGE statement.manchester-by-the-sea-3

But I worry about the hugely talented Naomie Harris.(She’s the crack-head Mom, btw.) Also Michelle Williams not getting nominated for “Manchester by the Sea” is RIDICULOUS! The Oscars WILL nominate her. Only Molly Shannon for “Other People”(what?) in that category has a chance to make an impact in Supporting Actress. They know her from SNL.

Now another anomaly is that “La La Land”, “Fences” and Martin Scorsese’s just completed and beginning to screen “Silence” are not nominated at all for the Indies because their budgets were too large. The Indie Spirits are solely for Indie films. And Weinstein’s “The Lion” was also deemed ineligible.

And you can bet for sure that they Academy will watch all four of these biggies and probably nominate all four in a great variety of categories.

Natalie Portman will win in Best Actress in the Indies in a walk. She’s nonpareil as the murdered late President Kennedy’s heroic wife. She has no competition. And she’ll probably win at the Oscars, too, even though she’s won before. She’ll also win the Golden Globes for Best Actress Drama. While Emma Stone is likely to win Best Actress Comedy or Musical at the Globes, although she’ll have tough competition from Meryl Streep for “Florence Foster Jenkins.”hell-or-high-water-1

I’d also like to give a BIG shout out to the fact that the always excellent Ben Foster got a Best Supporting Actor nomination from the Indies for “Hell or High-Water.” The New York Times has already named him the Best Actor of his Generation a year or two ago, and I bet they come back around to loudly remind everyone that they got there first with Foster. His nomination could knock already-awarded Jeff Bridges out of competition in that category perhaps completely.

The superb Foster has never even been nominated for the first class work he’s done FOR YEARS! (See “9:10 to Yuma,” etc. etc.) The time is right for him to be acknowledged STAT!  Naomie Harris, too, but that’s a longer shot…I hope not, but…I can just hear Ms. Harris somewhere in England saying “Thanks Indies, but I’d rather have the individual nomination.” Joel Edgerton, for “Loving,” who was completely shut  out for Lead Actor is probably complaining that he didn’t get nominated AT ALL!

manchester-by-the-sea-5 Whereas Casey Affleck who changed his career with his indelible drunken janitor/reluctant father figure in “Manchester” will totally win here. Both he and Natalie Portman can go two-for-tw0 at Indies and the Oscars, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did!

For the complete list of nominees and this year’s many, many categories go to http://www.awardsdaily.com


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