Independent filmmakers often don't see the box office major blockbusters do, but they often clean up during awards season. The world of indie film even has its own award show, the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Because independent films have grown in popularity and quality since the awards were created in 1984, films that do well at this event often do well at the Oscars. The nominations were announced Tuesday morning.
Here are the four most nominated films:
Starring Michael Keaton and Emma Stone, Birdman offers a darkly comedic take on the backstage narrative. It tells the story of a washed-up former superhero actor who struggles to find himself and his future, and it appears to be filmed in one take, via all manner of trickery. Birdman received the most ISA nominations with six.
The film has seen some encouraging success at the box office (where it's still playing in limited release). It is nominated for Best Feature and Best Director, among others. Both Keaton and Stone received acting nominations as well.
Richard Linklater's Boyhood is almost as involving in its origin story as it is in its actual narrative. Director Richard Linklater has been filming it, in bits and pieces, over 12 years, tracing the same actors across that time period, as they've grown up or grown older. The movie follows a young boy named Mason as he grows up in the heart of Texas. It's a story about growth that is filled with quiet moments of beauty.
Boyhood is great for its shifting perspectives, cyclical storytelling, and straight-up nostalgia. It is nominated for Best Feature and Best Director, among its five total nominations.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a man desperate for work who becomes a crime reporter in Los Angeles and quickly gets wrapped up in the drama he is supposed to be covering in Nightcrawler. The dark neo-noir was directed by Dan Gilroy.
The thriller is nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Male Lead, among its five total nominations.
Selma doesn't hit full-release in theaters until January 9, but it is already expected to be an Oscar contender. Selma spotlights Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon Baines Johnson as the former demonstrated in an attempt to win full, consistent voting rights for black Americans. It is directed by Ava DuVernay.
The film uses original source material to craft its story and portrays MLK's relationships in a new, more relatable light. Selma is nominated for Best Feature, Best Director, and Best Male Lead, among its five total nominations.
For the full list of categories and nominees, check out this rundown on Variety