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2015 Indie Spirit Award Nom Surprises & Snubs: Where is The Skeleton Twins, Miles Teller & The Better Angels?

Question. What do The Skeleton TwinsThe Better Angels and actor Miles Teller have in common? There’ll always be some head-scratcher surprises and snubs and the 2015 Indie Spirit award nominations are no different. It goes with the territory. As we tend to some wounds, we access those that were criminally overlooked in the key categories. Here is a glance at some of the shoulda, woulda and coulda.

BEST FEATURE
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Boyhood
Love is Strange
Selma
Whiplash

Falling below the 21 million mark set by the Indie Spirit folks, it is indeed an odd year when a major studio release figures among the fives noms. Considering that Ava DuVernay is an indie talent, I didn’t think her film would be part of the equation. That said, it was a given that Boyhood and the more deserving Birdman and Whiplash would all face off. In a round up of potential titles that we here at IONCINEMA.com consider among the year’s best we find microbudgeted Blue Ruin and It Felt Like Love being relegated to other categories. More bizarre is when a director receives a Best Director nod, but no Best Picture nom (and vice-versa) as is the case with Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter. Even more puzzling is how critically support titles of The Skeleton Twins, Listen Up Philip, The Sleepwalker and The Better Angels fell in the cracks and weren’t mentioned in any of the categories below.

BEST DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle – Whiplash
Ava DuVernay – Selma
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
David Zellner – Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

Jeremy Saulnier delivered the perfect sophomore film, but this should have been a year where we celebrated Benny and Josh Safdie. The Venice-TIFF-NYFF traveled Heaven Knows What is a different specimen altogether, but in some more discerning critics’ notebooks is more miraculous than spending twelve years with a boy turned teen.

BEST SCREENPLAY
Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski – Big Eyes
J.C. Chandor – A Most Violent Year
Dan Gilroy – Nightcrawler
Jim Jarmusch – Only Lovers Left Alive
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias – Love is Strange

While most would agree that Nightcrawler, A Most Violent Year and Love is Strange are solid on paper, we haven’t got the slightest clue as to how or why Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)Whiplash and Selma aren’t in this category. Is there a Cannes like criteria for this category?

BEST FIRST FEATURE
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Dear White People – Director/Producer: Justin Simien
Nightcrawler – Director: Dan Gilroy
Obvious Child – Director: Gillian Robespierre
She’s Lost Control – Director/Producer: Anja Marquardt

Two titles and names that come to mind that deserve a spot are Mona Fastvold for The Sleepwalker and A.J. Edwards’ The Better Angels.

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Desiree Akhavan – Appropriate Behavior
Sara Colangelo – Little Accidents
Justin Lader – The One I Love
Anja Marquardt – She’s Lost Control
Justin Simien – Dear White People

No complaints here — this is a surprisingly good set of nominations.

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
Blue Ruin – Writer/Director: Jeremy Saulnier
It Felt Like Love – Writer/Director/Producer: Eliza Hittman
Land Ho! – Writers/Directors: Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens
Man From Reno – Writer/Director: Dave Boyle
Test – Writer/Director/Producer: Chris Mason Johnson

Hard to know what productions are south of half a million but we’re pretty sure that Listen Up Philip should have been an inclusion.

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Marion Cotillard – The Immigrant
Rinko Kikuchi – Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Jenny Slate – Obvious Child
Tilda Swinton – Only Lovers Left Alive

We’re not looking in the view finder. This is a Moore win.

BEST MALE LEAD
André Benjamin – Jimi: All Is By My Side
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
John Lithgow – Love is Strange
David Oyelowo – Selma

Miles Teller from Whiplash and Bill Hader from The Skeleton Twins are worthy picks.

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year
Carmen Ejogo – Selma
Andrea Suarez Paz – Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Emma Stone – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

We’ve got a loud of suggestions in Kristin Wiig (The Skeleton Twins), Eva Green (White Bird in a Blizzard), Rene Russo (Nightcrawler) and Elizabeth Moss (Listen Up Philip) how all deserved a spot.

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Riz Ahmed – Nightcrawler
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Alfred Molina – Love is Strange
Edward Norton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

With all the attention around J.K Simmons, it’s hard to consider anyone else really.  Where is Michael Shannon from 99 Homes? Or Don Johnson from Cold in July?

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Darius Khondji – The Immigrant
Emmanuel Lubezki – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Sean Porter – It Felt Like Love
Lyle Vincent – A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Bradford Young – Selma

There are a good number of under the radar items that don’t come with the same hype as multiple-category items mentioned above, but Bradford Young (A Most Violent Year), Reed Morano (War Story), Matthew J. Lloyd (The Better Angels), Alex Disenhof (Fishing Without Nets) and Zack Galler (The Sleepwalker) provided lush reasons to not forget mostly smaller indie titles.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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