‘Minari,’ ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ Top 2021 Independent Spirit Award Nominations

“Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” a moving drama about the hurdles a teenage girl must overcome to obtain an abortion, topped the Independent Spirit Awards nominations with seven nods. It was followed closely behind by “Minari,” the story of a family of South Korean immigrants trying to make a life for themselves in the rural South, which scored six nominations.

Both films will compete for the best feature prize against “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” an adaption of one of August Wilson’s most famous plays; “Nomadland,” the story of a woman traveling through the American West from one gig to another; and “First Cow,” a historical drama about two frontiersmen in the 19th century and their ill-advised plans to strike it rich.

The honors, which recognize the best work in the arthouse space, are a key stop on the awards season trail. Eligible films must have budgets under $22.5 million, which means that the likes of “Mank,” “Da Five Bloods” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which are expected to compete for Oscars, didn’t make the cut.

This year’s honors also include television programming, a first for the Indie Spirits. “Little America,” an anthology show about immigrants in the U.S., and “Unorthodox,” a mini-series about a 19-year-old Jewish woman living in an ultra-Orthodox community in Brooklyn, were the most honored TV programs, with three nods apiece. They will compete for the best series prize against “Small Axe,” “A Teacher,” and “I May Destroy You.” As Variety wrote in September, the same budgetary distinctions are not applied to TV categories. That’s how shows such as “The Great” and “Zero Zero Zero,” which boasted lavish production values or globe-trotting plotlines, also earned nominations.

As major movie studios have moved away from producing adult-oriented dramas in favor of superhero sequels, the Indie Spirits honorees have often aligned with other major awards shows. That wasn’t the case in 2020, however. “The Farewell” won the best feature honor in 2020, while “Uncut Gems” picked up statues for Adam Sandler’s lead role and the directing of Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie. Renee Zellweger picked up the lead actress prize. Only Zellweger went on to win the Oscar as “The Farewell” and “Uncut Gems” were shut out of the Academy Awards.

Netflix was the most nominated distributor, picking up a leading 16 nominations for producing the likes of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “The White Tiger,” and “The 40-Year-Old Version.”

At a time when Hollywood is under pressure to provide more opportunities to women and people of color, the Indie Spirits sought to highlight the diversity of its nominees. This year, 42% of nominees were women and 37% were black, indigenous, and people of color.

This year’s ceremony will occur on April 22, but will likely look very different from the raucous beachfront gathering that took place in past years due to coronavirus. The show will be broadcast on IFC on April 23.

“Booksmart” director Olivia Wilde, “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins and “Promising Young Woman” actress Laverne Cox announced the nominees.

Best Feature
“First Cow”
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”

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 First Feature
“I Carry You With Me”
“The 40-Year-Old Version”
“The Sound of Metal”
“Miss Juneteenth”
“Nine Days”

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 Male Lead
Riz Ahmed (“The Sound of Metal”)
Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Rob Morgan (“Bull”)
Steven Yeun (“Minari”)
Adarsh Gourav (“The White Tiger”)

Best Supporting Female
Alexis Chikaeze (“Miss Juneteenth”)
Yeri Han (“Minari”)
Valerie Mahaffey (“French Exit”)
Talia Ryder (“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”)
Yuh-jung Youn (“Minari”)

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 Screenplay
“Bad Education”
“The Half of It”
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
“Promising Young Woman”

Best First Screenplay
Kitty Green (“The Assistant”)
Noah Hutton (“Lapsis”)
Channing Godfrey Peoples (“Miss Juneteenth”)
Andy Siara (“Palm Springs”)
James Sweeney (“Straight Up”)

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
“I Carry You With Me”
“The Invisible Man”
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”

John Cassavetes Award
“The Killing of Two Lovers”
“La Leyenda Negra”
“Lingua Franca”
“Saint Frances”

Robert Altman Award
“One Night in Miami”

Best Documentary
“Crip Camp”
“Dick Johnson Is Dead”
“The Mole Agent”

Best International Film
“The Disciple”
“Night of the Kings”
“Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time”
“Quo Vadis, Aida?”

Piaget Producers Award
Kara Durrett
Lucas Joaquin
Gerry Kim

Someone to Watch Award
David Midell (“The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain”)
Ekwa Msangi “( Farewell Amor”)
Annie Silverstein (“Bull”)

Truer Than Fiction Award
Cecilia Aldarondo (“Landfall”)
Elegance Bratton (“Pier Kids”)

Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series
“Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children”
“City So Real”
“Immigration Nation”
“Love Fraud”
“We’re Here”

Best Scripted Series
“I May Destroy You”
“Little America”
“Small Axe”
“A Teacher”

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 Scripted Series
Conphidance (“Little America”)
Adam Ali (“Little America”)
Nicco Annan (“P-Valley”)
Amit Rahav (“Unorthodox”)
Harold Torre (“Zero, Zero, Zero”)

Best Ensemble Cast in a New Scripted Series
“I May Destroy You”

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