There’s an old assertion—which plays out with more-or-less statistical weight depending on the category—that the annual Film Independent Spirit Awards are a pretty decent predictor for the Oscars. Although the nominations tend to skew artsier, the annual event (typically held on the Saturday before Oscar Sunday every year, a pattern disrupted this year by COVID) is usually seen as a good sign of, at least, who’s likely to take home Best Picture the next night, even if the last few years haven’t borne that maxim out. (The two shows haven’t synced up on Best Picture since 2016's Moonlight, although the previous few years saw them honoring Spotlight and Birdman together, too.) That may or may not be good news for Chloé Zhao and her elegiac portrait of the American road, Nomadland, which both won big at the Spirit Awards tonight. Zhao herself took home Best Director, while the movie won for Editing, Cinematography, and for Best Feature.
Meanwhile, Carey Mulligan and Riz Ahmed also had good nights, taking home Best Female Lead and Best Male Lead for Promising Young Woman and The Sound Of Metal, respectively. Each film also took home at least one extra award apiece: Promising Young Woman’s Emerald Fennell won Best Screenplay (which she’s also vying for, in Best Original Screenplay form, at the Oscars), and Paul Raci scored Best Supporting Male for Sound. (Which also won Best First Feature for director Darius Marder.)
In terms of other possible Oscar contenders, the other big win at the Spirit Awards tonight was Minari’s Youn Yuh-jung, our own pick for the performer most likely to win Best Supporting Actress on Sunday night. Best International Film went to Quo Vadis, Aida?, Best Documentary went to Crip Camp, and the winning Palm Springs scored a nod for Best First Screenplay for writer Andy Siara. There were also the usual handful of more eclectic categories, including the Robert Altman award for ensemble casts (One Night In Miami) and a pair of TV awards for Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You. You can see the full list of Spirit winners over at Variety; meanwhile, you can tune in right here Sunday night for our Oscars coverage to see if the Spirit Awards’ predictive abilities are all they’re cracked up to be.