2013 Independent Spirit Awards predictions: ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ will shine

First rule about the Independent Spirit Awards:  box office wins 99% of the time.  Second rule about the Independent Spirit Awards: the voting membership is more mainstream than you’d think.  Of course, these are rules that have really come into play over the past five years or so, but important to keep in mind when trying to predict the winners of the 2013 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

At first glance, this year’s show (happily hosted by Andy Samberg), appears to be a battle between “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “Silver Linings Playbook.”  In reality, however, David O. Russell’s word of mouth hit should dominate the winner’s circle.  Not only is “Playbook” as acclaimed as the Sundance Film Festival award winning “Beasts,” but it grossed almost 10 times as much at the box office as “Beast” and received more Oscar nominations (yeah, it matters).  Oh right, The Weinstein Company sent screeners to the Independent Film voting membership while Searchlight passed on “Beasts.” 


Of course, there are a number of categories where Russell (a former Spirit Awards winner) or his “Playbook” cast are not nominated.  So, thankfully, there should be some love spread around in the Spirit Awards tent Saturday afternoon. 

HitFix and In Contention will have full coverage of the Spirit Awards all day Saturday.  In the meantime, here are some educated predictions on just who wins what as Hollywood makes it’s annual pre-Oscar pilgrimage to the beach in Santa Monica, CA.*

*Note: I have not included the Filmmaker Grant categories for obvious reasons.

Best Feature
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Keep the Lights On”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Silver Linings Playbook”

Who wins: “Silver Linings Playbook”
Who should win: “Moonrise Kingdom” or “Bernie”
“Playbook” is the biggest hit, sent screeners and has a huge Oscar profile. That should do it.

Best Director
Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Ira Sachs, “Keep the Lights On”
Julia Loktev, “The Loneliest Planet”
Wes Anderson, “Moonrise Kingdom”
David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Who wins: David O. Russell
Who should win: Wes Anderson or Benh Zeitlin
Why: “Playbook” is expected to dominate and Russell, who has tremendous indie cred, should take home at least his third Spirit Award of the night.

Best Actor
Jack Black, “Bernie”
Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
John Hawkes, “The Sessions”
Thure Lindhardt, “Keep the Lights On”
Matthew McConaughey, “Killer Joe”
Wendell Pierce, “Four”

Who wins: Bradley Cooper
Who should win: John Hawkes
Why: This is interesting. Cooper “should” win, but this is really a very rare indie role on his resume.  Hawkes is a veteran won best supporting male at the Spirits in 2011 for “Winter’s Bone” and was nominated last year for “Martha Marcy May Marlene.” Upset?

Best Actress

Linda Cardellini, “Return”
Emayatzy Corinealdi, “Middle of Nowhere”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Quvenzhané Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, “Smashed”

Who wins: Jennifer Lawrence
Who should win: Jennifer Lawrence
Why: Wallis could surprise, but the “Playbook” run continues here.

Best Supporting Actor
Matthew McConaughey, “Magic Mike”
David Oyelowo, “Middle of Nowhere”
Michael Peña, “End of Watch”
Sam Rockwell, “Seven Psychopaths”
Bruce Willis, “Moonrise Kingdom”

Who wins: Matthew McConaughey
Who should win: Michael Pena
Why: McConaughey has this one locked up. “Magic Mike” was a huge hit and McConaughey has a huge amount of indie cred on his resume over the past few years. It would be shocking if he didn’t win.

Best Supporting Actress
Rosemarie DeWitt, “Your Sister’s Sister”
Ann Dowd, “Compliance”
Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
Brit Marling, “Sound of My Voice”
Lorraine Toussaint, “Middle of Nowhere”

Who wins: Helen Hunt
Who should win: Helen Hunt
Why: Hunt’s work in “The Sessions” is perhaps the best of her career. Marling or DeWitt could surprise here though.

Best Screenplay
Ira Sachs, “Keep the Lights On”
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, “Moonrise Kingdom”
Zoe Kazan, “Ruby Sparks”
Martin McDonagh, “Seven Psychopaths”
David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Who wins: David O. Russell
Who should win: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Why: The “Moonrise Kingdom” duo have a shot here, but “Playbook’s” long prominence this awards season and it’s $100 million plus box office make it hard to pick against.

Best First Feature
“Fill the Void”
“Gimme the Loot”
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
“Safety Not Guaranteed”
“Sound of My Voice”

Who wins: “Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Who should win: “Sound of My Voice”
Why: “Perks” is the most well known and biggest hit of the five nominees. Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij may have enough support in Film Independent to pull the upset, however. Maybe.

Best First Screenplay
Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, “Celeste and Jesse Forever”
Rama Burshtein, “Fill the Void”
Jonathan Lisecki, “Gayby”
Christopher Ford, “Robot and Frank”
Derek Connolly, “Safety Not Guaranteed”

Who wins: “Safety Not Guaranteed”
Who should win: “Safety Not Guaranteed”
Why: “Safety” was the biggest hit of all the nominees. It’s that easy.

Best Documentary
“The Central Park Five”
“How to Survive a Plague”
“The Invisible War”
“Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present”
“The Waiting Room”

Who wins: “How to Survive a Plague”
Who should win: “Marina Abramovich: The Artist is Present”
Why: This is a tough one. “Plague” or “Central Park Five” could easily win. Question is whether enough of the voters have seen either. The category is almost a pick ’em.

Best Cinematography
Ben Richardson, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Roman Vasyanov, “End of Watch”
Lol Crawley, “Here”
Robert Yeoman, “Moonrise Kingdom”
Yoni Brook, “Valley of Saints”

Who wins:
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Who should win: “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Why: “Moonrise Kingdom” is beautifully lit and “End of Watch” features some innovative camera work, but “Beasts” is the more significant achievement.  That actually might matter here.

Best International Film
“Once Upon a Time in Anatolia”
“Rust and Bone”
“War Witch”

Who wins: “Amour”
Who should win: Eh, “Amour”
Why: “Amour” is going to win this one. Personally, I think it’s overrated, but “Rust and Bone’s” disappointing third act makes it hard to pick it over “Amour.”

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts below.