Independent Spirit Awards: 'Moonlight,' 'American Honey' Score Leading 6 Nominations Each

The Hollywood Reporter
'Moonlight' (Photo: David Bornfriend/A24)


American Honey and Moonlight scored a leading six nominations each as Film Independent today announced the nominations for its 2017 Spirit Awards. Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester By the Sea came in second with five nominations. Other People, Jackie and Free in Deed each earned four nominations.

The nominees, celebrating the best of independent film, were revealed at a press conference hosted by Edgar Ramirez and Jenny Slate.

American Honey, Moonlight, Manchester By The Sea and Jackie will all face off in the best feature category along with Chronic.

Although Moonlight didn't score any acting nominations, it was selected to receive the Robert Altman Award given to one film's director, casting director and ensemble cast. Its writer-director Barry Jenkins also is up for best director and best screenplay. The film's final two nominations come in the categories of best cinematography and editing.

American Honey, which follows a group of teenagers as they drift across the country selling magazine subscriptions, will face off against Moonlight, which looks at the life of a young black man growing up in a tough Miami neighborhood, in the categories of best director (Andrea Arnold), cinematography and editing. American Honey also earned nominations for best female lead (Sasha Lane), best supporting male (Shia LaBeouf) and best supporting female (Riley Keough).

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Joining American Honey and Moonlight's helmers in the best director category are Jackie's Pablo Larrain, Loving's Jeff Nichols and Certain Women's Kelly Reichardt

In addition to best feature, Manchester is nominated for best editing, best male lead (Casey Affleck), best screenplay and best supporting male (Lucas Hedges).

Jackie also got a best editing nomination as well as one for star Natalie Portman, who's up for best female lead for her portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy.

Other People is nominated for best first feature and best first screenplay for writer Chris Kelly and stars Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon are up for best male lead and supporting female respectively.

Free in Deed is also competing in the cinematography, male lead and supporting female categories and was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award given to the best feature made for under $500,000.

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Hell or High Water scored three nominations with the following films earning two nominations each: 20th Century Women, Certain Women, The Childhood of a Leader, Chronic, The Fits, Little Men, Loving, Spa Night, Swiss Army Man and The Witch.

The documentary O.J.: Made in America had a big Tuesday scoring a Spirit award nomination as well as one for a Producers Guild award, as the PGA announced its documentary nominees today as well.

The nominations marked a major victory for four-year old A24, which released both Moonlight and American Honey as well as 20th Century Women, Morris from America, Swiss Army Man and The Witch, as it racked up a total of 19 nominations. Amazon Studios, Fox Searchlight, Magnolia and Vertical Entertainment each had five nominations.

A number of movies were deemed ineligible for Spirit Award nominations, including Oscar frontrunner La La Land as well as Focus Features' Nocturnal Animals and A Monster Calls.

After three years in which the nominees leaked early, this year the finalists remained under wraps until they were scheduled to be unveiled at 10 am PT.

The 32nd Film Independent Spirit Awards will air live on IFC on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 at 2 p.m. PT and 5 p.m. ET. As usual, the show will be held in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, just north of the Santa Monica Pier.

Related: How 'Moonlight' Became a "Personal Memoir" for Director Barry Jenkins: "I Knew the Story Like the Back of My Hand"

A full list of this year's nominees follows.

BEST FEATURE (Award given to the producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)

American Honey

Producers: Thomas Benski, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Lucas Ochoa, Pouya Shahbazian, Alice Weinberg



Producers: Michel Franco, Gina Kwon, Gabriel Ripstein, Moisés Zonana



Producers: Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin, Ari Handel, Juan de Dios Larraín,    Mickey Liddell


Manchester by the Sea

Producers: Lauren Beck, Matt Damon, Chris Moore, Kimberly Steward, Kevin J. Walsh



Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski


BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)

The Childhood of a Leader

Director: Brady Corbet

Producers: Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre, Chris Coen, Ron Curtis, Helena Danielsson, Mona Fastvold, István Major


The Fits

Director/Producer: Anna Rose Holmer

Producer: Lisa Kjerulff


Other People

Director: Chris Kelly

Producers: Sam Bisbee, Adam Scott, Naomi Scott


Swiss Army Man

Directors: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert

Producers: Miranda Bailey, Lawrence Inglee, Lauren Mann, Amanda Marshall, Eyal Rimmon, Jonathan Wang


The Witch

Director: Robert Eggers

Producers: Daniel Bekerman, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Jodi Redmond, Rodrigo Teixeira


JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD - Given to the best feature made for under $500,000.  Award given to the writer, director and producer.  Executive Producers are not awarded.

Free In Deed

Writer/Director: Jake Mahaffy

Producers: Mike Bowes, Mike S. Ryan, Brent Stiefel


Hunter Gatherer

Writer/Director: Josh Locy

Producers: Michael Covino, April Lamb, Sara Murphy, Isaiah Smallman



Writer/Director: So Yong Kim

Writer/Producer: Bradley Rust Gray

Producers: David Hansen, Alex Lipschultz, Johnny Mac



Writer/Director/Producer: TW Pittman

Director/Producer: Kelly Daniela Norris

Writer/Producer: Isaac Adakudugu  

Producer: Giovanni Ximénez


Spa Night

Writer/Director: Andrew Ahn

Producers: David Ariniello, Giulia Caruso, Ki Jin Kim, Kelly Thomas





Andrea Arnold

American Honey


Barry Jenkins



Pablo Larrain       



Jeff Nichols



Kelly Reichardt

Certain Women




Barry Jenkins

Story By Tarell Alvin McCraney    



Kenneth Lonergan

Manchester by the Sea


Mike Mills

20th Century Women


Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias

Little Men


Taylor Sheridan

Hell or High Water



Robert Eggers

The Witch


Chris Kelly

Other People


Adam Mansbach



Stella Meghie

Jean of the Joneses


Craig Shilowich




Ava Berkofsky

Free In Deed


Lol Crawley

The Childhood of a Leader


Zach Kuperstein

The Eyes of My Mother


James Laxton



Robbie Ryan

American Honey



Matthew Hannam

Swiss Army Man


Jennifer Lame

Manchester by the Sea


Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders



Jake Roberts

Hell or High Water


Sebastian Sepulveda





Annette Bening

20th Century Women


Isabelle Huppert



Sasha Lane

American Honey


Ruth Negga



Natalie Portman




Casey Affleck

Manchester by the Sea


David Harewood

Free In Deed


Viggo Mortensen

Captain Fantastic


Jesse Plemons

Other People


Tim Roth





Edwina Findley

Free In Deed


Paulina Garcia

Little Men


Lily Gladstone

Certain Women


Riley Keough

American Honey


Molly Shannon

Other People



Ralph Fiennes 

A Bigger Splash


Ben Foster

Hell or High Water


Lucas Hedges

Manchester by the Sea


Shia LaBeouf

American Honey


Craig Robinson

Morris from America




ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD - (Given to one film's director, casting director and ensemble cast)



Director: Barry Jenkins

Casting Director: Yesi Ramirez

Ensemble Cast: Mahershala Ali, Patrick Decile, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monáe, Jaden Piner, Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders




BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)


Director/Producer: Ava DuVernay 

Producers: Spencer Averick, Howard Barish 



Director/Producer: Kirsten Johnson

Producer: Marilyn Ness


I Am Not Your Negro          

Director/Producer: Raoul Peck

Producers: Rémi Grellety, Hérbert Peck    


O.J.: Made in America

Director/Producer: Ezra Edelman

Producers: Nina Krstic, Tamara Rosenberg, Caroline Waterlow



Director: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

Producer: Gerd Haag 


Under the Sun

Director: Vitaly Mansky

Producer: Natalya Manskaya




BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)



Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho          




Director: Athina Tsangari 


My Golden Days


Director: Arnaud Desplechin


Toni Erdmann

(Germany and Romania)

 Director: Maren Ade


Under the Shadow  

(Iran and U.K.)

Director: Babak Anvari

20th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD - The 20th annual Producers Award, sponsored by Piaget, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget.

Lisa Kjerulff

Jordana Mollick

Melody C. Roscher & Craig Shilowich


23rd ANNUAL KIEHL'S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD - The 23rd annual Someone to Watch Award, sponsored by Kiehl's Since 1851, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition.  The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl's Since 1851.

Andrew Ahn 

Director of Spa Night


Claire Carré

Director of Embers   


Anna Rose Holmer

Director of The Fits


Ingrid Jungermann

Director of Women Who Kill


22nd TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD - The 22nd annual Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.


Kristi Jacobson

Director of Solitary    


Sara Jordenö

Director of Kiki


Nanfu Wang

Director of Hooligan Sparrow


Related: Spirit Awards: Watch All of the Winners' Acceptance Speeches