(500) Days of Summer
The Last Station
NOTE: Every year the Spirits are typically as predictable in the "Best Feature" category as the Oscars are in the "Best Picture" category, and this year the Spirits may be even more predictable than the Oscars. It's the Precious show, period. And really, as many problems as I have with Precious, there is not much to argue against it, at least with this group of nominees. (500) Days is mighty clever and much more enjoyable than Precious, and Sin Nombre better emdobies what Film Independent is all about, but neither of those films -- or, for that matter, Precious -- should really be nominated, in my opinion. But for the Spirits, this will be Precious' year, which, for better or worse, is probably the final nail in the film's Oscar coffin. Destined to be nominated...and lose.
The Coen Brothers, A Serious Man
Lee Daniels, Precious
Cary Fukunaga, Sin Nombre
James Grey, Two Lovers
Michael Hoffman, The Last Station
NOTE: A tougher category. Precious might win Best Feature, but that doesn't mean Lee Daniels takes home Best Director. Could be the Coens, but they are receiving the Altman award, so...maybe James Grey, whose Two Lovers has received oodles of praise (unwarranted, in my opinion...the film seems like a pale American impression of a great French film, but a lot of people love it, so I digress...).
BEST FIRST FEATURE
A Single Man
Easier With Practice
NOTE: Without a doubt, this award should go to Oren Moverman, whose The Messenger is one of the most powerful and revelatory films of 2009. A sleeper is Paranormal Activity, but I still contend that it is not quite a movie.
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
(Given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer)
The New Year Parade
NOTE: My guess would be Big Fan, the directorial debut of The Wrestler writer Robert Siegel, but you never know...
Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman, The Messenger
Michael Hoffman, The Last Station
Lee Toland Krieger, The Vicious Kind
Greg Mottola, Adventureland
Scott Neustader, Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer
NOTE: Probably Neustader and Weber for (500) Days, which is a very creative piece of writing. But The Messenger deserves serious consideration, and I would submit that Mottola's work on Adventureland is a much more interesting screenplay than (500) Days.
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Sophie Barthes, Cold Souls
Scott Cooper, Crazy Heart
Cherien Dabis, Amreeka
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Tom Ford, David Scearce, A Single Man
NOTE: Fletcher might walk away with this one for writing the eventual Best Feature winner.
BEST FEMALE LEAD
Maria Bello for Downloading Nancy
Helen Mirren for The Last Station
Gwentyth Paltrow for Two Lovers
Gabby Sidibe for Precious
Nisreen Faour for Amreeka
NOTE: Sidibe. Done.
BEST MALE LEAD
Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart
Colin Firth for A Single Man
Joseph Gordon Levitt for 500 Days Of Summer
Souleymane Sy Savane for Goodbye Solo
Adam Scott for The Vicious Kind
NOTE: Bridges. Done.
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Dina Korzun for Cold Souls
Mo'Nique for Precious
Samantha Morton for The Messenger
Natalie Press for Fifty Dead Men Walking
Mia Wasikowska for That Evening Sun
NOTE: Mo'Nique. Done.
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Jemaine Clement for Gentleman Broncos
Woody Harrelson for The Messenger
Cristian McKay for Me And Orson Welles
Ramon McKinnon for That Evening Sun
Christopher Plummer for The Last Station
NOTE: Harrelson. Done.
Roger Deakins for A Serious Man
Adriano Goldman for Sin Nombre
Anne Misawa for Treeless Mountain
Andrij Parekh for Cold Souls
Peter Zeitlinger for Bad Lieutenant
NOTE: Most likely Deakins.
More Than a Game
Which Way Home
NOTE: Tough one. Probably Anvil!, but the category is wide open. I would guess More than a Game is the only nominee without a chance of winning.
BEST FOREIGN FILM
NOTE: An Education is a wonderful film and will likely run off with this one.
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
(Given to one film’s director, casting director, and ensemble cast)
A Serious Man
NOTE: Well-deserved. Nothing else to say. A fine choice for this year.
A lot of this year's nominees aren't very exciting, which is fitting for a year that wasn't very exciting overall. But the Spirits are always fun....tons of fun. March 5 can't come soon enough.