As the highest honor in indie filmmaking, the Spirit Awards are a good barometer of which films will make it into the broader awards conversation. In 2018, Lady Bird, Get Out, Call Me By Your Name and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri led the nominations and wins there first before becoming major Oscar contenders down the line. Moonlight, Birdman, 12 Years a Slave and The Artist, all won best feature at the Spirit Awards before scooping up Best Picture.
The 2019 nominees were announced by Molly Shannon and Gemma Chan during a press conference at the Los Angeles W Hotel, and there was a welcome surprise: For the first time, there are more women than men represented in the race for Best Director, setting the bar high for the notoriously male-centric category.
In 2018, only one woman — Chloe Zhao for The Rider — was nominated in that category. (She lost to Jordan Peele.) Only two women have won Best Director since the first ceremony was held over thirty years ago: Martha Coolidge for Ramblin' Rose (1991) and Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation (2003).
The Film Independent Spirit Awards will air on February 23 (the day before the Oscars) on IFC.