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2021 Spirit Award nominations: Zola leads with 7

Taylour Paige, Zola, Spirit Awards, Film Independent, Janicza Bravo
Taylour Paige in Zola

The 2020 Spirit Award winners were an unusually mainstream bunch, even for a major awards body that's only trended more middlebrow as time has passed. That was likely due to more independent projects from last year working their way into the cultural mainstream, as big studios opted to shelve higher-profile fare for theatrical rollouts in 2021 or beyond, but still, every Spirit Award category with a corresponding Oscar category last year was won by an Oscar nominee at least, with five top categories going to the same contender at each ceremony.

Unlikely we'll see that matched by the 2021 crop. This year's nominations are led by Janicza Bravo's polarizing Zola, with seven nominations including Best Feature and Director, and by Lauren Hadaway's The Novice with five. Look for neither to appear anywhere on the Academy's shortlists next year, but isn't that what the Spirit Awards ought to be about? Plenty of pleasant surprises among this year's bunch, such as well-deserved mentions for Petite Maman and Swan Song, and a non-English language Best Feature nominee in A Chiara.

This year, Film Independent's doing things a little differently - this nominations announcement comes several weeks later than usual for the group, while their awards ceremony will be held earlier. No longer are they waiting until Oscar eve, but instead detaching from their old status as the anti-Oscars (since they're certainly not that any longer) and ekeing out a status of their own with a show three weeks ahead of the Academy, on the 6th of March.

Best Feature

A CHIARA (Jonas Carpignano, Paolo Carpignano, Jon Coplon and Ryan Zacarias)

C'MON C'MON (Chelsea Barnard, Andrea Longacre-White and Lila Yacoub)

THE LOST DAUGHTER (Charles Dorfman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Osnat Handelsman Keren and Talia Kleinhendler)

THE NOVICE (Ryan Hawkins, Kari Hollend, Steven Sims and Zack Zucker)

ZOLA (Kara Baker, Dave Franco, Elizabeth Haggard, David Hinojosa, Vince Jolivette, Christine Vachon and Gia Walsh)

Best Director

Janicza Bravo (ZOLA)

Maggie Gyllenhaal (THE LOST DAUGHTER)

Lauren Hadaway (THE NOVICE)

Mike Mills (C'MON C'MON)

Ninja Thyberg (PLEASURE)

Best Female Lead

Isabelle Fuhrmann (THE NOVICE)

Brittany S. Hall (TEST PATTERN)


Taylour Paige (ZOLA)


Best Male Lead

Clifton Collins Jr. (JOCKEY)


Michael Greyeyes (WILD INDIAN)

Udo Kier (SWAN SONG)

Simon Rex (RED ROCKET)

Best Supporting Female

Jessie Buckley (THE LOST DAUGHTER)

Amy Forsyth (THE NOVICE)

Ruth Negga (PASSING)

Revika Anne Reustle (PLEASURE)

Suzanna Son (RED ROCKET)

Best Supporting Male

Colman Domingo (ZOLA)

Troy Kotsur (CODA)


Will Patton (SWEET THING)

Chaske Spencer (WILD INDIAN)

Best Screenplay


Janicza Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris (ZOLA)

Maggie Gyllenhaal (THE LOST DAUGHTER)

Mike Mills (C'MON C'MON)

Todd Stephens (SWAN SONG)

Best Cinematography

Ante Cheng and Matthew Chuang (BLUE BAYOU)

Lol Crawley (THE HUMANS)

Tim Curtin (A CHIARA)

Eduard Grau (PASSING)

Ari Wegner (ZOLA)

Best Editing

Affonso Goncalves (A CHIARA)


Lauren Hadaway and Nathan Nugent (THE NOVICE)

Joi McMillon (ZOLA)


Robert Altman Award

MASS (Fran Kranz, Henry Russell Bergstein, Allison Estrin, Kagen Albright, Reed Birney, Michelle N. Carter, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton and Breeda Wool)

Best Documentary

ASCENSION (Jessica Kingdon, Kira Simon-Kennedy and Nathan Truesdell)

FLEE (Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellstrom and Signe Byrge Sorensen)

IN THE SAME BREATH (Wang Nan Fu, Christopher Clements, Julie Goldman, Carolyn Hepburn and Zhang Jia Ling)

PROCESSION (Robert Greene, Susan Bedusa, Bennett Elliott and Douglas Tirola)

SUMMER OF SOUL (...OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED) (Questlove, David Dinerstein, Robert Fyvolent and Joseph Patel)

Best International Film

COMPARTMENT NUMBER 6 - Finland/Russia (Juho Kuosmanen)

DRIVE MY CAR - Japan (Hamaguchi Ryusuke)

PARALLEL MOTHERS - Spain (Pedro Almodovar)

PEBBLES - India (P. S. Vinothraj)

PETITE MAMAN - France (Celine Sciamma)

PRAYERS FOR THE STOLEN - Mexico (Tatiana Huezo)

Best First Feature

7 DAYS (Roshan Sethi, Liz Cardenas and Mel Eslyn)

HOLLER (Nicole Riegel, Adam Cobb, Rachel Gould, Katie McNeill, Jamie Patricof and Christy Spitzer Thornton)

QUEEN OF GLORY (Nana Mensah, Baff Akoto, Anya Migdal, Kelly Robins Hicks and Jamund Washington)

TEST PATTERN (Shatara Michelle Ford, Liu Pin Chun and Su Yu Hao)

WILD INDIAN (Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr., Thomas Mahoney and Eric Tavitian)

Best First Screenplay

Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. (WILD INDIAN)

Matt Fifer and Sheldon D. Brown (CICADA)

Shatara Michelle Ford (TEST PATTERN)

Fran Kranz (MASS)

Michael Sarnoski and Vanessa Block (PIG)

John Cassavetes Award

CRYPTOZOO (Dash Shaw, Tyler Davidson, Kyle Martin, Jane Samborski and Bill Way)

JOCKEY (Clint Bentley, Greg Kwedar and Nancy Schafer)

SHIVA BABY (Emma Seligman, Kieran Altmann, Katie Schiller and Lizzie Shapiro)

SWEET THING (Alexandre Rockwell, Louis Anania, Haley Anderson and Kenan Baysal)

THIS IS NOT A WAR STORY (Talia Lugacy, Noah Lang and Julian West)

Producers Award

Brad Becker-Parton

Liu Pin Chun

Lizzie Shapiro

Someone to Watch Award

Alex Camilleri (LUZZU)

Michael Sarnoski (PIG)

Gillian Wallace Horvat (I BLAME SOCIETY)

Truer Than Fiction Award

Jessica Beshir (FAYA DAYI)

Debbie Lum (TRY HARDER!)

Angelo Madsen Minax (NORTH BY CURRENT)

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