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The Snubs & Surprises Of The 2014 Spirit Award Nominations

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist November 26, 2013 at 3:07PM

Strap in, because it's all downhill from here. Or uphill. Either way, the road to the Dolby Theater is now officially open as Film Independent's Spirit Awards have unveiled their nominations for this year (yes, they call it 2014 even though it's for 2013's movies because they'll hand out the hardware in March—yes, it's a bit confusing). But it should be noted: the Spirit Awards has a budget barrier which keeps bigger movies out and obviously their mandate excludes studio pictures so this don't consider this a definitive augur for Oscars.
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Prince Avalanche

"Prince Avalanche"/"Drinking Buddies"
Two filmmakers who cut their teeth in the indie world, and who had slightly starry projects to good reviews and a receptive audience in 2013 found themselves out in the cold today: David Gordon Green and Joe Swanberg. And it's curious that "Prince Avalanche" and "Drinking Buddies" didn't fare better among voters. Certainly Green and Swanberg's pictures hew right to the sort of intimate, creative, honest, truthful filmmaking the Spirit Awards are supposed to celebrate, right? And it's not like they were lacking in star power either, with both filmmakers utilizing bigger names to help tell smaller scale tales. These are rather interesting omissions and anyone looking for fuel that these awards have sold out, they'll be pointing to this.

"Mother Of George"
Speaking of which... we're a bit surprised there wasn't any shout outs for Andrew Donsumnu's "Mother Of George." Bradford Young also shot this film, earning a trophy at Sundance for his trouble and like the other movies on this list, the picture was greeted with warm reviews and appreciation from critics. It might not have been a box office breakout, but it certainly showed careful directorial authority and two fine performances from Danai Gurira and Isaach De Bankolé. And at the very least, if the cruddy '80s VHS aesthetic of "Computer Chess" can get a Best Cinematography nomination, Young deserved some kind of recognition for his work in either of the movies he lensed this year.

Frances Ha

"Frances Ha"
Okay, "Frances Ha" did get nominated for Best Picture and Editing but ... that's it? Of any movie that evoked down and dirty, run and gun filmmaking this year, Noah Baumbach's film certainly brought that spirit. His lively movie only works because of the terrific turn by Greta Gerwig who anchors the movie that she also co-wrote, putting together a portrait of that moment between youth and adulthood so many face, with real insight and hilarity. That "Frances Ha" didn't get nominated for its most impressive elements—Best Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Director—makes us wonder if voters actually understood the movie at all.

"Inside Llewyn Davis"
In a similar spirit, while their film was nominated for Best Feature, Best Actor and Best Director,  the Coen brothers missed out on directing and screenplay nominations, again—two pretty crucial parts of the film's success. Don't ask us how voting works, because we're still mystified each year.

Do you think anyone got snubbed? Any movie's you were surprised to get recognition? Let us know below.

This article is related to: Features, Awards, Spirit Awards


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