Film Independent Spirit Awards: Nominations

Film Independent Spirit Awards

The nominations were announced for the 35th Film Independent Spirit Awards to be held in Santa Monica on February 8, 2019.

Winners of the Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grants will be announced at the Film Independent Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grant and Nominee Brunch on Saturday, January 4, 2020.

Marriage Story was selected to receive the Robert Altman Award, which is bestowed upon one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast. The Altman Award was created in 2008 in honor of legendary director Robert Altman, who was known for creating extraordinary ensemble casts.

“The Film Independent Spirit Awards celebrate the best films of the year – films characterized by creative independence and original, provocative subject matter, as well as diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision,” said Film Independent President Josh Welsh. “At a time when the film business is undergoing such change and challenges, it’s important to loudly celebrate the work itself – the films! – and to recognize 2019 as a year of bold, audacious and accomplished filmmaking. That’s what the Spirit Awards are all about.”

To become eligible to vote, one must join by December 5, 2019 at a minimum of $95.


BEST FEATURE (Award given to the producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)

  • A Hidden Life, Producers: Elisabeth Bentley, Dario Bergesio, Grant Hill, Josh Jeter
  • Clemency, Producers: Timur Bekbosunov, Julian Cautherley, Bronwyn Cornelius, Peter Wong
  • The Farewell, Producers: Anita Gou, Daniele Melia, Andrew Miano, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Lulu Wang, Chris Weitz, Jane Zheng
  • Marriage Story, Producers: Noah Baumbach, David Heyman
  • Uncut Gems, Producers: Eli Bush, Sebastian Bear-McClard, Scott Rudin

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)

  • Booksmart
    Director: Olivia Wilde
    Producers: Chelsea Barnard, David Distenfeld, Jessica Elbaum, Megan Ellison, Katie Silberman
  • The Climb
    Director/Producer: Michael Angelo Covino
    Producers: Noah Lang, Kyle Marvin
  • Diane
    Director: Kent Jones
    Producers: Luca Borghese, Ben Howe, Caroline Kaplan, Oren Moverman
  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco
    Director/Producer: Joe Talbot
    Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Khaliah Neal, Christina Oh
  • The Mustang
    Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
    Producer: Ilan Goldman
  • See You Yesterday
    Director: Stefon Bristol
    Producer: Spike Lee

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000 (Award given to the writer, director and producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)

  • Burning Cane
    Writer/Director/Producer: Phillip Youmans
    Producers: Ojo Akinlana, Jakob Johnson, Karen Kaia Livers, Mose Mayer, Wendell Pierce, Isaac Webb, Cassandra Youmans
  • Colewell
    Writer/Director: Tom Quinn
    Producers: Joshua Blum, Alexandra Byer, Craig Shilowich, Matthew Thurm
  • Give Me Liberty
    Writer/Director/Producer: Kirill Mikhanovsky
    Writer/Producer: Alice Austen
    Producers: Val Abel, Wally Hall, Michael Manasseri, George Rush, Sergey Shtern
  • Premature
    Writer/Director/Producer: Rashaad Ernesto Green
    Writer: Zora Howard
    Producer: Darren Dean, Joy Ganes
  • Wild Nights With Emily
    Writer/Director/Producer: Madeleine Olnek
    Producers: Anna Margarita Albelo, Casper Andreas, Max Rifkind-Barron


  • Alma Har’el, Honey Boy
  • Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers
  • Julius Onah, Luce
  • Robert Eggers, The Lighthouse
  • Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, Uncut Gems


  • Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story
  • Jason Begue, Shawn Snyder, To Dust
  • Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, Uncut Gems
  • Chinonye Chukwu, Clemency
  • Tarell Alvin McCraney, High Flying Bird


  • Fredrica Bailey, Stefon Bristol, See You Yesterday
  • Hannah Bos, Paul Thureen, Driveways
  • Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy, Blow the Man Down
  • Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, Greener Grass
  • James Montague, Craig W. Sanger, The Vast of Night


  • Todd Banhazl, Hustlers
  • Jarin Blaschke, The Lighthouse
  • Natasha Braier, Honey Boy
  • Chananun Chotrungroj, The Third Wife
  • Pawel Pogorzelski, Midsommar


  • Julie Béziau, The Third Wife
  • Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems
  • Tyler L. Cook, Sword of Trust
  • Louise Ford, The Lighthouse
  • Kirill Mikhanovsky, Give Me Liberty


  • Karen Allen, Colewell
  • Hong Chau, Driveways
  • Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell
  • Mary Kay Place, Diane
  • Alfre Woodard, Clemency
  • Renée Zellweger, Judy


  • Chris Galust, Give Me Liberty
  • Kelvin Harrison Jr., Luce
  • Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse
  • Matthias Schoenaerts, The Mustang
  • Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems


  • Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
  • Taylor Russell, Waves
  • Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, Give Me Liberty
  • Octavia Spencer, Luce
  • Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell


  • Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse
  • Noah Jupe, Honey Boy
  • Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy
  • Jonathan Majors, The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  • Wendell Pierce, Burning Cane

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast

  • Marriage Story
  • Director: Noah Baumbach
  • Casting Directors: Douglas Aibel, Francine Maisler
  • Ensemble Cast: Alan Alda, Laura Dern, Adam Driver, Julie Hagerty, Scarlett Johansson, Ray Liotta, Azhy Robertson, Merritt Wever

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)

  • American Factory
    Director/Producer: Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert
    Producers: Julie Parker Benello, Jeff Reichert
  • Apollo 11
    Director/Producer: Todd Douglas Miller
    Producers: Evan Krauss, Thomas Baxley Petersen
  • For Sama
    Director: Edward Watts
    Director/Producer: Waad al-Kateab
  • Honeyland
    Director: Tamara Kotevska
    Director/Producer: Ljubo Stefanov
    Producer: Atanas Georgiev
  • Island of the Hungry Ghosts
    Director/Producer: Gabrielle Brady
    Producers: Gizem Acarla, Samm Haillay, Alex Kelly, Alexander Wadouh

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)

  • Invisible Life
    Director: Karim Aïnouz
  • Les Misérables
    Director: Ladj Ly
  • Parasite
    South Korea
    Director: Bong Joon-Ho
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire
    Director: Céline Sciamma
  • Retablo
    Director: Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio L.
  • The Souvenir
    United Kingdom
    Director: Joanna Hogg

BONNIE AWARD – Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo joined American Airlines in 1973 at age 24, becoming the first female pilot to fly for a major U.S. airline. In her honor, the third Bonnie Award will recognize a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant, sponsored by American Airlines.

  • Marielle Heller
  • Kelly Reichardt
  • Lulu Wang

PRODUCERS AWARD – The 23rd annual Producers Award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

  • Mollye Asher
  • Krista Parris
  • Ryan Zacarias

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 26th annual Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

  • Rashaad Ernesto Green, Director of Premature
  • Ash Mayfair, Director of The Third Wife
  • Joe Talbot, Director of The Last Black Man in San Francisco

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 25th annual Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

  • Khalik Allah, Director of Black Mother
  • Davy Rothbart, Director of 17 Blocks
  • Nadia Shihab, Director of Jaddoland
  • Erick Stoll & Chase Whiteside, Director of América

The 35th Film Independent Spirit Awards will be broadcast live exclusively on IFC at 2:00 pm PT/5:00 pm ET.


Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.