Coming-of-age films get indie nods

Moonlight and American Honey lead Independent Spirit nominations, with six nods each

Alex R. Hibbert is one of three actors playing the protagonist in Moonlight.
Alex R. Hibbert is one of three actors playing the protagonist in Moonlight. PHOTO: NYTIMES

LOS ANGELES • Two coming-of-age movies, Moonlight and American Honey, got a leading six nominations each on Tuesday for the Independent Spirit Awards, which celebrate low-budget artistic films that often also do well at the Oscars.

The grief-driven blue-collar family drama Manchester By The Sea and Jackie, about former United States First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, also did well, earning nods that included Best Feature, as well as Best Male Lead and Best Female Lead for their respective stars, Casey Affleck and Natalie Portman.

Moonlight, which follows a young black man in a hard-scrabble Miami neighbourhood, received six nominations in all, including Best Feature, and Best Director and Best Screenplay for writer-director (for Barry Jenkins.

But there was nothing for its three main actors, who play the central character at different stages of his life.

Kenneth Lonergan, the director of Manchester By The Sea, and Michelle Williams, in an emotionally powerful supporting role, were also left off the list.

Shia LeBeouf, 30, making a comeback after alcohol disrupted his career for five years, was nominated for Best Supporting Male for his turn as the leader of a gang of thieves in American Honey.

The tale of a teenage runaway who travels across the American Midwest with a band of misfits will also compete for Best Feature, Best Director (for Andrea Arnold), and Best Female Lead (newcomer Sasha Lane).

The last three winners of Independent Spirit Awards - Spotlight (2015), Birdman (2014) and 12 Years A Slave (2013) - all went on to win the Best Picture Oscar, the highest honour in the movie industry.

But this year, some of the films getting the most awards buzz were not eligible for the Spirit Awards, which is open to movies made for less than US$20 million (S$28.5 million).

That meant no nominations for the musical La La Land, the psychological thriller Nocturnal Animals and the adoption drama Lion. The 2017 Independent Spirit Awards will be handed out at a ceremony in Santa Monica, California, on Feb 25 - the day before the Academy Awards ceremony.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2016, with the headline 'Coming-of-age films get indie nods'. Subscribe