Film Independent Spirit Awards: 'Never Rarely Sometimes Always,' 'Minari,' 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom,' 'Nomadland' Top Nominations

The ceremony, typically taking place on the beach in Santa Monica, will air in primetime on April 22, three days before the Oscars.

Film Independent has unveiled its nominations for the 2021 Independent Spirit Awards, a major stop on this year's awards season.

Eliza Hittman's Never Rarely Sometimes Always scored a leading seven nominations, including for best feature, with Lee Isaac Chung's Minari landing six nods and George C. Wolfe's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Chloé Zhao's Nomadland scoring five nominations each. All four films are nominated for best feature alongside Kelly Reichardt's First Cow, which was also nominated for best director and best supporting male (Orion Lee).

Regina King's One Night in Miami received the Robert Altman Award, given to one film's director, casting director and the ensemble cast. Past honorees include eventual best picture Academy Awards winners Moonlight and Spotlight. The film that receives the Altman Award does not have its actors considered for the acting categories.

Nominees represent 22 different countries and 42 percent are women and 37 percent are BIPOC. Among nominated actors and writers and directors, those stats are higher: 69 percent of nominated actors are BIPOC while 57 percent of this year's nominated writers and directors are women, with 48 percent BIPOC.

Chung, Hittman, Reichardt and Zhao are nominated for best director with Promising Young Woman's Emerald Fennell landing the fifth nod.

It is notable that four out of the five nominees in the best directing category are women, and none of the nominees are white men (the demographic that traditionally dominates directing awards categories). In the history of the Spirit Awards, only two women have taken home that prize, and none were in the past decade. With the Spirit Awards an important precursor to the Oscars, this could mean more representation in the directing category. Only five women have been nominated for the best director Academy Award.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always also scored nominations for best screenplay, female lead (Sidney Flanigan), cinematography, editing and supporting female (Talia Ryder).

In addition to best feature and best director, Minari is up for best screenplay and male lead for star Steven Yeun. He continues to garner accolades and nominations and is one step closer to making history. If nominated for the Oscar, he would become the first Asian-American man nominated in the leading actor category. The film also earned two best supporting female nominations at the Spirit Awards.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom earned nods in the best female and male lead categories (Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, respectively) and scored two nods for best supporting male (Colman Domingo and Glynn Turman). And while Ma Rainey and White Tiger both were honored in the acting categories, eligible Netflix films that were not include Pieces of a Woman (Vanessa Kirby) and Malcolm & Marie (Zendaya and John David Washington). Sophia Loren was not eligible in the female lead category for Netflix's The Life Ahead, because the film submitted for the international category.

Nomadland is up for best female lead (Frances McDormand), cinematography and editing. Other films nominated for multiple awards include four-time nominee Miss Juneteenth; three-time nominees The Assistant, Bull, First Cow, Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal; and two-time nominees I Carry You With Me, Nine Days and ResidueLittle America and Unorthodox led the TV nominees with three nods each, followed by two nods for I May Destroy You.

In terms of distributors, Netflix scored the most nominations with 16, followed by Focus Features with 10, A24 with nine and HBO with seven.

The budget cutoff for eligible films is $22.5 million, meaning contenders like News of the WorldThe Trial of the Chicago 7, and Da 5 Bloods are not eligible for the 2021 ceremony.

"2020 was hell on earth, but one glorious lifeline these past months has been the ability to watch so many great films and shows,” Film Independent president Josh Welsh said. “In an unbelievably challenging year, this year's Spirit Award nominees inspired us, connected us, and have been a source of urgently needed light in the darkness. Even though we’re still stuck at home, let’s come together to celebrate this great work!”

Laverne Cox, Barry Jenkins and Olivia Wilde announced this year's nominees via video this morning. This year the Spirit Awards added five TV categories to their film honors: best new scripted series, best new nonscripted or documentary series, best male performance in a scripted series, best female performance in a scripted series, and best ensemble cast in a scripted series.

The 36th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards, rescheduled a couple of times due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which pushed back the Oscars and has prompted numerous other awards shows to shuffle their dates and formats, will, in a departure from tradition, air in a primetime ceremony at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT on April 22, three days before the Oscars. While the event, long-held in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, will no longer take place the day before the Oscars, it will air on IFC and stream simultaneously on AMC+. Winners are selected by Film Independent members.

Last year's Spirit Awards ceremony featured a number of winners and nominees who were passed over for similar honors by the 2020 Academy Awards. The Farewell, not nominated at the 2020 Oscars, won best picture at the 2020 Indie Spirit Awards, with studio A24 the biggest winner at the ceremony. A24's Uncut Gems and The Lighthouse were recognized in other categories, including best director (Uncut Gems' Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie) and actor (Uncut Gems' Adam Sandler).

Sandler, who was snubbed for a lead actor Oscar nomination last year, delivered a memorable Spirit Awards acceptance speech, which received a standing ovation. "A few weeks back when I was, quote-unquote, snubbed by the Academy, it reminded me when I briefly attended high school and was overlooked for the coveted yearbook superlative category 'best looking,'" said Sandler at the time. "But my classmates did honor me with the allegedly less prestigious designation of 'best personality.' Tonight, as I look around this room, I realize that the Independent Spirit Awards are the 'best personality' awards of Hollywood.

A complete list of the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations follows.

BEST FEATURE
(Award given to the producer)

FIRST COW
Producers: Neil Kopp, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Producers: Todd Black, Denzel Washington, Dany Wolf

MINARI
Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh

NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS
Producers: Sara Murphy, Adele Romanski

NOMADLAND
Producers: Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Chloé Zhao

BEST FIRST FEATURE
(Award given to director and producer)

I CARRY YOU WITH ME
Director/Producer: Heidi Ewing
Producers: Edher Campos, Mynette Louie, Gabriela Maire

THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
Director/Producer: Radha Blank
Producers: Inuka Bacote-Capiga, Jordan Fudge, Rishi Rajani, Jennifer Semler, Lena Waithe

MISS JUNETEENTH
Director: Channing Godfrey Peoples
Producers: Toby Halbrooks, Tim Headington, Jeanie Igoe, James M. Johnston, Theresa Steele Page, Neil Creque Williams

NINE DAYS
Director: Edson Oda
Producers: Jason Michael Berman, Mette-Marie Kongsved, Matthew Linder, Laura Tunstall, Datari Turner

SOUND OF METAL
Director: Darius Marder
Producers: Bill Benz, Kathy Benz, Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche

BEST DIRECTOR

Lee Isaac Chung, Minari

Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

Eliza Hittman, Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Kelly Reichardt, First Cow

Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

BEST SCREENPLAY

Lee Isaac Chung, Minari

Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman

Eliza Hittman, Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Mike Makowsky, Bad Education

Alice Wu, The Half of It

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY

Kitty Green, The Assistant

Noah Hutton, Lapsis

Channing Godfrey Peoples, Juneteenth

Andy Siara, Palm Springs

James Sweeney, Straight Up

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
(Given to the best feature made for under $500,000; Award given to the writer, director and producer)

THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS
Writer/Director/Producer: Robert Machoian
Producers: Scott Christopherson, Clayne Crawford

LA LEYENDA NEGRA
Writer/Director: Patricia Vidal Delgado
Producers: Alicia Herder, Marcel Perez

LINGUA FRANCA
Writer/Director/Producer: Isabel Sandoval
Producers: Darlene Catly Malimas, Jhett Tolentino, Carlo Velayo

RESIDUE
Writer/Director: Merawi Gerima

SAINT FRANCES
Director/Producer: Alex Thompson
Writer: Kelly O’Sullivan
Producers: James Choi, Pierce Cravens, Ian Keiser, Eddie Linker, Raphael Nash, Roger Welp

BEST MALE LEAD

Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal

Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Adarsh Gourav, The White Tiger

Rob Morgan, Bull

Steven Yeun, Minari

BEST FEMALE LEAD

Nicole Beharie, Miss Juneteenth

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Sidney Flanigan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Julia Garner, The Assistant

Frances McDormand, Nomadland

Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

BEST SUPPORTING MALE

Colman Domingo, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Orion Lee, First Cow

Paul Raci, Sound of Metal

Glynn Turman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Benedict Wong, Nine Days

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

Alexis Chikaeze, Miss Juneteenth

Yeri Han, Minari

Valerie Mahaffey, French Exit

Talia Ryder, Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Youn Yu-jung, Minari

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Jay Keitel, She Dies Tomorrow

Shabier Kirchner, Bull

Michael Latham, The Assistant

Hélène Louvart, Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Joshua James Richards, Nomadland

BEST EDITING

Andy Canny, The Invisible Man

Scott Cummings, Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Merawi Gerima, Residue

Enat Sidi, I Carry You With Me

Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
(Award given to the director)

BACURAU (Brazil)
Director: Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho

THE DISCIPLE (India)
Director: Chaitanya Tamahane

NIGHT OF THE KINGS (Ivory Coast)
Director: Philippe Lacôte

PREPARATIONS TO BE TOGETHER FOR AN UNKNOWN PERIOD OF TIME (Hungary)
Director: Lili Horvát

QUO VADIS, AIDA? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Director: Jasmila Žbanić

BEST DOCUMENTARY
(Award given to the director and producer)

COLLECTIVE
Director/Producer: Alexander Nanau
Producers: Hanka Kastelicová, Bernard Michaux, Bianca Oana

CRIP CAMP
Directors/Producers: Jim LeBrecht, Nicole Newnham
Producer: Sara Bolder

DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD
Director/Producer: Kirsten Johnson
Producers: Katy Chevigny, Marilyn Ness

THE MOLE AGENT
Director: Maite Alberdi
Producer: Marcela Santibáñez

TIME
Director/Producer: Garrett Bradley
Producers: Lauren Domino, Kellen Quinn

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

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI
Director: Regina King
Casting Directors: Kimberly R. Hardin
Ensemble Cast: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr.

PRODUCERS AWARD
(The Producers Award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent films)

Lucas Joaquin

Gerry Kim

Kara Durrett

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
(The Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition)

DAVID MIDELL
Director of The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain

EKWA MSANGI
Director of Farewell Amor

ANNIE SILVERSTEIN
Director of Bull

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
(The 26th Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition)

CECILIA ALDARONDO
Director of Landfall

ELEGANCE BRATTON
Director of Pier Kids

ELIZABETH LO
Director of Stray

BEST NEW NON-SCRIPTED OR DOCUMENTARY SERIES
(Award given to the Creator, Executive Producer, Co-Executive Producer)

ATLANTA’S MISSING AND MURDERED: THE LOST CHILDREN

Executive Producers: Jeff Dupre, Joshua Bennett, Sam Pollard, Maro Chermayeff, John Legend, Mike Jackson, Ty Stiklorius

CITY SO REAL
Produced by: Zak Piper, Steve James
Executive Producers: Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Alex Kotlowitz, Gordon Quinn, Betsy Steinberg, Jolene Pinder

IMMIGRATION NATION
Executive Producers: Christina Clusiau, Shaul Schwarz, Dan Cogan, Jenny Raskin, Brandon Hill, Christian Thompson
Co-Executive Producers: Andrey Alistratov, Jay Arthur Sterrenberg, Lauren Haber

LOVE FRAUD
Executive Producers: Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing, Amy Goodman Kass, Vinnie Malhotra, Jihan Robinson, Michael Bloom, Maria Zuckerman

WE’RE HERE
Creators/Executive Producers: Stephen Warren, Johnnie Ingram
Executive Producers: Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Peter LoGreco
Co-Executive Producers: Erin Haglund, Sabrina Mar

BEST NEW SCRIPTED SERIES
(Award given to the Creator, Executive Producer, Co-Executive Producer)

A TEACHER
Creator/Executive Producer: Hanna Fidell
Executive Producers: Michael Costigan, Kate Mara, Louise Shore, Jason Bateman, Danny Brocklehurst
Co-Executive Producer: Daniel Pipski

I MAY DESTROY YOU
Creator/Executive Producer: Michaela Coel
Executive Producers: Phil Clarke, Roberto Troni

LITTLE AMERICA
Executive Producers: Lee Eisenberg, Joshuah Bearman, Joshua Davis, Arthur Spector, Alan Yang, Siân Heder, Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon

SMALL AXE
Executive Producers: Tracey Scoffield, David Tanner, Steve McQueen

UNORTHODOX
Creator/Executive Producer: Anna Winger
Creator: Alexa Karolinski
Executive Producer: Henning Kamm

BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE IN A SCRIPTED SERIES

Elle Fanning, The Great

Shira Haas, Unorthodox

Abby McEnany, Work in Progress

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Never Have I Ever

Jordan Kristine Seamón, We Are Who We Are

BEST MALE PERFORMANCE IN A NEW SCRIPTED SERIES

Conphidance, Little America

Adam Ali, Little America

Nicco Annan, P-Valley

Amit Rahav, Unorthodox

Harold Torres, ZeroZeroZero

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST IN A NEW SCRIPTED SERIES

I MAY DESTROY YOU

Cast: Michaela Coel, Paapa Essiedu, Wruche Opia, Stephen Wight