Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett films top indie Spirit Award nominations

Michelle Yeoh (centre) stars in Everything Everywhere All At Once with Stephanie Hsu (left) and Ke Huy Quan. PHOTO: MM2 ENTERTAINMENT

LOS ANGELES – Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh’s Everything Everywhere All At Once and Australian actress Cate Blanchett’s Tar led the Spirit Awards nominations on Tuesday, underlining their credentials as the indie films to watch this awards season.

The Film Independent Spirit Awards, which consider only low- and mid-budget movies, gave eight nods to Yeoh’s science-fiction hit about surreal parallel universes, and seven to Blanchett’s drama set in the cut-throat world of classical music.

Both were nominated for Best Feature, along with Canadian director Sarah Polley’s Women Talking, which will receive the prestigious Robert Altman Award for a film’s director, casting director and overall cast.

All three movies are widely tipped to feature at next year’s Oscars, which will take place in March, just one week after the Spirit Awards winners are revealed in an annual ceremony by a Los Angeles beach.

Everything Everywhere All At Once has grossed more than US$100 million (S$138 million) worldwide, making it leading indie distributor A24‘s biggest hit.

The absurdist film portrays a Chinese-American immigrant family undergoing a tax audit, who are quickly drawn into an inter-dimensional battle to save the multiverse from a powerful villain.

Tar follows the rise and fall of a fictional, globally renowned conductor who will stop at nothing to succeed in her high-flying career.

Women Talking, a drama about women in an ultra-conservative religious colony debating how to deal with systemic sexual abuse, features an ensemble cast including Claire Foy, Rooney Mara and Frances McDormand.

Rounding out the Spirit Awards’ best feature category were American actor Timothee Chalamet’s cannibal love story Bones And All, and African refugee drama Our Father, The Devil.

But Chalamet was among several eligible A-listers who notably missed out on acting nominations, along with Jennifer Lawrence (Causeway) and Brendan Fraser, whose acclaimed film The Whale earned zero nominations.

Double Oscar winner Blanchett and Yeoh both received lead actor nominations, while Mark Rylance (Bones And All) and Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All At Once) earned supporting nods.

Films with budgets more than US$30 million are not considered for the Spirit Awards, which aim to celebrate independent film-making.

Film Independent president Josh Welsh said on Tuesday that the nominations had looked for “uniqueness of vision, original provocative subject matter, economy of means, and diversity both on and off screen”.

Cate Blanchett at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 13th Annual Governors Awards at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles on Nov 19. PHOTO: AFP

For the first time, the awards have opted for gender-neutral acting awards.

The Spirit Awards will take place in a giant tent by Santa Monica beach on March 4.

Oscars voting ends three days later, and the season-capping 95th Academy Awards will take place on March 12. AFP

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