And here we have the final precursor of the 2018 Oscar season. The Spirit Awards are often the first and always the last precursor (the Razzie awards are too, but they don’t precurse anything). While we always look at how they could influence the Oscars (after all, five of the last seven winners have also won the Best Picture Oscar), this year’s list seems to be surprisingly bereft of major Oscar players. The Best Feature slate doesn’t have a single Best Picture nominee on it, the first time in a decade that’s happened (2008 was the last time and before that was 2002 and 2001). We won’t know the winners until the night before the Oscars and the overlap is minimal, so the end results won’t be terribly instructive.
Eighth Grade (Tripp, RU:Thomas)
First Reformed (RU:Wesley)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Wesley, Thomas, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp)
Leave No Trace (Peter)
You Were Never Really Here
Wesley Lovell: It’s hard to say which of these films will win. While If Beale Street Could Talk came the closest to an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and is the only film of these to earn more than one Oscar nomination (First Reformed is the only other one with a single nomination), so it should be leading. However, all of them have been incredibly well received this season and any of them could win.
Peter J. Patrick: With no Oscar nominees in the running this year, this could go to any of the nominees, but they really like Debra Granik’s films at the Spirits, so I see her Leave No Trace taking it over former winner Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk.
Tripp Burton: With no Oscar Best Picture nominee in this bunch, this is a real free-for-all category this year. Beale Street seems like the safest contender here, but Eighth Grade keeps surprising us with guild wins and could win an upset here.
Thomas LaTourette: If Beale Street Could Talk was probably close to an Oscar nomination, so it seems the likely winner.
Best First Feature
Hereditary (Wesley, Peter, RU:Tripp, RU:Thomas)
Sorry to Bother You (Tripp, Thomas, RU:Wesley)
We the Animals
Wesley Lovell: While I suspect any of these titles could win, Hereditary is probably the best received of the bunch, but that doesn’t mean a lot with these voters.
Peter J. Patrick: Ari Aster’s Hereditary was the only one of the nominees that was a major hit, which gives it an advantage over the competition. I think Paul Dano’s Wildlife is the most likely to upset.
Tripp Burton: Sorry to Bother You and Hereditary are two of the biggest critical darlings of the year, and one of them will win here. I’m going with Boots Riley, but this is a close race.
Thomas LaTourette: Sorry to Bother You sounds the most interesting and inventive of these.
John Cassavetes Award
A Bread Factory (Wesley, RU:Tripp)
En El Septimo Dia
Never Goin’ Back (RU:Thomas)
Thunder Road (Peter, Tripp, Thomas, RU:Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: I am not sure which film will win because none of them are exceedingly familiar to me. That said, A Bread Factory is the only one I’ve heard anything about, so it gets my prediction even if I still have no clue.
Peter J. Patrick: This one’s a tough call, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the comedy, Thunder Road, win out over its more serious competition with Socrates a possible spoiler.
Tripp Burton: Pure guess.
Thomas LaTourette: This is purely a guess.
First Reformed – Paul Schrader (RU:Tripp)
If Beale Street Could Talk – Barry Jenkins (Tripp, Thomas, RU:Peter)
Leave No Trace – Debra Granik (Wesley, Peter, RU:Thomas)
Private Life – Tamara Jenkins
You Were Never Really Here – Lynne Ramsay (RU:Wesley)
Wesley Lovell: Barry Jenkins, like his film, is the only one who came close to an Oscar nomination. That said, once again, any of these films, especially the female directors, could win the award. I suspect that either Debra Granik or Lynne Ramsay will win, but any of them, including screenwriting legend Paul Schrader, could pull off an upset.
Peter J. Patrick: Most likely to go to Granik, Jenkins already has one.
Tripp Burton: This could be a chance to honor the legendary Paul Schrader, but indie-favorite Barry Jenkins should easily win his second Best Director prize here.
Thomas LaTourette: Beale Street should win here as well.
Best Female Lead
Glenn Close – The Wife (Wesley, Peter, Tripp, Thomas)
Toni Collette – Hereditary (RU:Wesley, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp, RU:Thomas)
Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
Regina Hall – Support the Girls
Helena Howard – Madeline’s Madeline
Carey Mulligan – Wildlife
Wesley Lovell: There is only one Oscar nominee in this bunch and, the preponderance of Oscar nominees that are nominated for the Spirit Awards win the award. With no competition and her legendary status, she’s a very likely winner. That said, Elsie Fisher, Regina Hall, and especially Toni Collette, are better celebrated actors this season, which could give any of them a modest boost.
Peter J. Patrick: This is one of the few categories where they can emulate the Oscars, so they’ll give it to Close unless they really like one of the other nominees with Collette then the most likely.
Tripp Burton: With the Spirit Awards, always go with the Oscar nominee, and Close is the only one nominated here.
Thomas LaTourette: Close should win this just like the Oscar.
Best Male Lead
John Cho – Searching (RU:Thomas)
Daveed Diggs – Blindspotting
Ethan Hawke – First Reformed (Wesley, Peter, Tripp, Thomas)
Christian Malheiros – Socrates
Joaquin Phoenix – You Were Never Really Here (RU:Wesley, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp)
Wesley Lovell: The theme of this year’s Spirit Awards has been Oscar nomination near-misses. Ethan Hawke was the most recognized lead performer this season and many thought he’d manage a nomination from the Academy, but he was ultimately left off. That does give him an edge though, unless Joaquin Phoenix gets a surprise groundswell of support.
Peter J. Patrick: Hawke should take this one easily, in part as a makeup award for not being nominated for an Oscar.
Tripp Burton: Critics darling Hawke may have been denied the Oscar nomination but he is a clear winner here.
Thomas LaTourette: Hawke was probably in sixth when it came to Oscar nods, but he should prevail here.
Best Supporting Female
Kayli Carter – Private Life
Tyne Daly – A Bread Factory
Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk (Wesley, Tripp, Thomas, RU:Peter)
Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie – Leave No Trace (Peter, RU:Wesley, RU:Tripp, RU:Thomas)
J. Smith-Cameron – Nancy
Wesley Lovell: One of the few categories that saw an Oscar nominee make the cut is this one where Regina King stands far above these other ladies, having been recognized quite a few times this season, one of the most recognized. That said, Thomasin McKenzie has earned quite a few prizes herself and could play spoiler.
Peter J. Patrick: McKenzie is the female lead in her film, which gives her an advantage over Regina King who is the standout amongst her film’s large ensemble.
Tripp Burton: Regina King may be a weak front-runner at the Oscars, but she is a solid front-runner here.
Thomas LaTourette: King will probably win here and at the Oscars.
Best Supporting Male
Raul Castillo – We the Animals
Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman (RU:Wesley, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp, RU:Thomas)
Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Wesley, Peter, Tripp, Thomas)
Josh Hamilton – Eighth Grade
John David Washington – Monsters and Men
Wesley Lovell: Two of this year’s Oscar nominees show up on this list. Adam Driver and Richard E. Grant have a better shot at this award than any of the others. Grant, being the likely runner-up at the Oscars, probably has the edge over Driver, who is barely in the conversation at the Oscars.
Peter J. Patrick: Grant will get the award he’s probably not going to get at the Oscars.
Tripp Burton: There are two Oscar nominees here, and one of them will probably win here. I’ll go with the suddenly popular Richard E. Grant.
Thomas LaTourette: Grant should easily win here to help make up for not winning the Oscar.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Thomas, RU:Wesley, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp)
First Reformed (Wesley, Peter, Tripp)
Sorry to Bother You (RU:Thomas)
Wesley Lovell: Two of the nominees here are Oscar nominees. One (First Reformed) is in Original Screenplay at the Oscars. The other (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) is in Adapted Screenplay. The former has been well rewarded this season while the latter picked up the WGA prize for Adapted Screenplay. That itself could push it over the top, but I suspect Paul Schrader may ultimately be the one to beat.
Peter J. Patrick: Paul Schrader’s First Reformed should take this one, with Nicole Hofcener and Jeff Whitey’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? coming in second.
Tripp Burton: Voters probably can’t pass up the opportunity to vote for Paul Schrader here, but with their WGA upset this weekend, don’t count out nominations leader Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Thomas LaTourette: Can You Ever Forgive Me? should win this.
Best First Screenplay
Eighth Grade (Wesley, Peter, Tripp, Thomas)
The Tale (RU:Wesley, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp)
Wesley Lovell: None of these secured an Oscar nomination, but Eighth Grade came the closest. It also won the WGA prize for Original Screenplay, which gives it an obvious leg up. Which of the others could top? Likely none of them, but who really knows for sure.
Peter J. Patrick: I have no idea why, but everyone except me seems to loves Eighth Grade. It wins another one so Bo Burnham can feign surprise yet again.
Tripp Burton: Bo Burnham should win this easily.
Thomas LaTourette: Guild winner Eighth Grade should easily win.
We the Animals (Peter, Tripp, RU:Wesley)
You Were Never Really Here (Wesley, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp, RU:Thomas)
Wesley Lovell: Another batch of non-Oscar nominees. None of these strike me as being overly dominant and the only one that has gotten a lot of attention this year and might end up with a couple of prizes here, You Were Never Really Here, just seems like the best bet.
Peter J. Patrick: We the Animals was superbly edited, but You Were Never Really Here was almost its equal. Either could win.
Tripp Burton: I have no idea what will win here. Your guess is as good as mine.
Thomas LaTourette: A skateboarding film seems like it could win.
Suspiria (Wesley, Tripp, Thomas, RU:Peter)
We the Animals (Peter, RU:Tripp)
Wesley Lovell: No Oscar nominees here either. While Suspria has probably the most recognized cinematography on this list, Mandy was well supported and I could see either winning. Then again, I could also see both losing to something else.
Peter J. Patrick: We the Animals should win this one hands down.
Tripp Burton: This is a crap shoot of a category this year.
Thomas LaTourette: This is also a guess.
Best International Film
Burning – South Korea
Happy As Lazzaro – Italy
Roma – Mexico (Wesley, Peter, Tripp, Thomas)
Shoplifters – Japan
The Favourite – United Kingdom (RU:Wesley, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp, RU:Thomas)
Wesley Lovell: Three Oscar nominees are on this list. Two are in the actual Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars. Two are in the Best Picture category. One is in both. The strange criteria for the Spirit Awards puts English-language The Favourite here making this a true competition between the films. While indie darling Yorgos Lanthimos might have the edge in most situations, Alfonso Cuaron cut his teeth on indies, which also gives him a claim to this one. Roma also happens to be the most indie-oriented in terms of its artistic approaches, which could give it the lead as well. Shoplifters, the other Oscar nominee of the bunch, could also win as could the almost-nominated Burning. It all depends how feisty the Spirit voters are.
Peter J. Patrick: It all comes down to whether they like Roma as much as most of the other awards bodies. If not, The Favourite is the next likely winner.
Tripp Burton: Roma is the leader of the season, so why stop its train here?
Thomas LaTourette: Roma will continue its winning ways.
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap (RU:Wesley, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp, RU:Thomas)
Of Fathers and Sons
On Her Shoulders
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Wesley, Peter, Tripp, Thomas)
Wesley Lovell: Three Oscar nominees are on this list. It’s the most similar to its corresponding category at the Oscars of all of the Spirit Awards categories. Hale County, Minding the Gap, and Fathers and Sons likely benefit from that. Then again, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? was a shocking Oscar omission and Shirkers has plenty of fans. Any one of these could win, and while I would normally go for an Oscar nominee (like Minding the Gap), I’m giving a slight edge to Won’t You Be My Neighbor? It could also be anyone else and I wouldn’t be surprised.
Peter J. Patrick: Like Ethan Hawke, Mister Rogers gets his revenge on the Oscars.
Tripp Burton: This is a stacked category, and the question is if voters will go with the more popular and mainstream choice in Won’t You Be My Neighbor? or will they go with a critical darling like Shirkers or Minding the Gap? Any of them could win, but I’ll guess the crowd pleaser.
Thomas LaTourette: Oscar-snubbed Won’t You Be My Neighbor? should win this.