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Independent Films Receive 60 Oscar Nominations

by Anne Thompson and Jacob Combs
January 25, 2012 2:58 PM
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This year wasn't just a good year for movies about movies at the Oscars, it was a great year for independent films.  The top two Oscar contenders--"Hugo," with 11 nominations, and "The Artist," with 10 nods--were both indy flicks, as were fellow Best Picture nominees "Midnight in Paris" and "The Tree of Life."

As is often the case, nominations at the top of the ballot had a certain trickle-down effect, meaning that many of the nominations in lower categories also acknowledged independent films.  In the acting categories, indies came out strong, providing 6 of 10 actor nods and 5 of 10 actress noms.  In directing, 4 of the 5 nominees were indy helmers, while the writing awards went 8-2 for independents.

There were surprises, too, in other categories, such as animation, for which three independent films were recognized, two of them small, hand-drawn art house faves.

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More: Oscars, Independents


  • Anne Thompson | January 27, 2012 2:09 PMReply

    Believe it or not, "Hugo" was financed by Graham King's GK Films and foreign sales...and will lose money. But Paramount picked it up, released it and marketed it. But they did not develop it or pay for its production. Same with "Tree of Life," which was financed by Bill Pohlad with foreign sales. Fox Searchlight picked it up. Sure, a movie that cost more than $20 million is not eligible for an Indie Spirit award, but that doesn't mean it isn't independent.

    Woody Allen has been doing it this way for years--his foreign clout allows him total freedom to make his films his way. If that isn't independent I don't know what is.

    More and more films, big and small, and being financed this way because the studios don't want to take the risk going in, and wait to buy in at a later stage. That way they get bragging rights without putting their money at risk.

  • Cautious Train Productions | January 27, 2012 8:15 AMReply

    Just because a major distributor picked up an indie produced film, doesn't make it any less indie. Example: Paranormal Activity was produced (independently) for just over $10,000 - then picked up by a major distributor because of the efforts put in by the (independent) producers and their Demand It campaign. Now if my indie film had enough merit to be picked up and distributed by one of the major players, I would be over the moon...and think it no less indie.

    This is great news for indie filmmakers everywhere.

  • JK | January 27, 2012 12:50 PM

    You're right about PARANORMAL. That's a true indie. But I find it very difficult to understand how movies made by Scorcese, Malick and Allen for over $20Million each can in any way be considered indie. It's ridiculous and a marketing angle by the studios and nothing else.

  • JK | January 26, 2012 5:05 PMReply

    If HUGO, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and THE TREE OF LIFE are considered indie films then we need to re-evaluate our definition of indie films.

    Just because a film is released by a studio's 'indie arm' doesn't make it independent.

  • Brian | January 26, 2012 10:52 AMReply

    Paramount Pictures distributes HUGO. Since when is Paramount, which has been a major studio in Hollywood for 100 years(!), an "independent"?

  • DL | January 25, 2012 7:25 PMReply

    How's Hugo independent film? if it costs more than 100 mil to make it? I thought it had to be under 25 to qualify for that

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