The 2009 Independent Spirit Awards were unveiled yesterday. And while the Academy Awards' more adventurous little brother has been leaning toward higher-profile specialty films in recent years (like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine), the ’09 batch hearkens back to the awards’ early days when ultra-low-budget indies ruled the scene.
Three of the five Best Feature nominees were made for less than $500,000: Lance Hammer’s Ballast, Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River and Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy. Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married and Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler rounded out the big-prize nominees. For a variety of reasons — and contrary to recent years — expect none of the five to make the Academy's cut.
(Michelle Williams in Wendy and Lucy)
More important than budget size or behind-the-scenes politics, all are worthy (in most cases stellar) films, and all should make their way to Cincinnati if they haven’t already: Frozen River enjoyed a brief run at The Esquire a few months back; Rachel Getting Married is currently in local theaters; and The Wrestler, which features a full-bodied performance from Mickey Rourke, should open here sometime in January. Distributed by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch’s new Oscilloscope Pictures, Wendy and Lucy — probably my favorite film so far this year — opens in New York this week and then fans out to larger cities. Depending on its success, there’s a decent chance it could make its way here early next year. The status of Ballast, which Hammer is distributing himself, is much less clear.
(Mikey Rourke in The Wrestler)
Check out he full list of nominees here.