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What separates the Independent Spirit Awards from the Academy Awards? Guests are allowed to consume alcohol during the ceremony. I didn't realize the same held true when the time came for compiling a list of nominations.

Let's take Celeste and Jesse Forever, for example. The nomination that the largely improvised and wholly forgettable romcom received for Best First Screenplay is funnier than anything in the otherwise embarrassingly amateurish mess.

Every year I log an average of anywhere between 200 - 250 films and every year when awards season rolls around it's invariably the same 12 films up for discussion. Are voter's attention spans shorter than those of an average MTV viewer? Why is it that the majority of the films up for consideration are November or December releases?

Because November and December are the months when studios send out stacks of "for your consideration" DVD screeners. Critics and voters, too lazy to get off their asses and actually do their jobs by going to a theatre, can judge films in the comfort of their homes.

For a critic, watching a film on television instead of seeing it projected on a theatre screen is tantamount to phoning in a sick day.

It's been this way forever as far as the dopes at the Oscars and Golden Globes are concerned, but it's more than a little disheartening when the Independent Spirit Awards begin dipping into the same vat of escapist junk as their Academy counterparts.

This year I have decided to pull a George C. Scott and decline from participating in the San Diego Film Critics Society annual year-end vote. I'll publish a ten best list, but when it comes to voting by committee, art should not compete.

For those interested, here is this year's list of Independent Spirit Awards nominees.

Best Feature

  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Bernie
  • Keep the Lights On
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Silver Linings Playbook

Best Director

  • Wes Anderson – Moonrise Kingdom
  • Julia Loktev – The Loneliest Planet
  • David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Ira Sachs – Keep the Lights On

Best Screenplay

  • Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola – Moonrise Kingdom
  • Zoe Kazan – Ruby Sparks
  • Martin McDonagh – Seven Psychopaths
  • David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Ira Sachs – Keep the Lights On

Best First Feature

  • Fill the Void
  • Gimme the Loot
  • Safety Not Guaranteed
  • Sound of My Voice
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Best First Screenplay

  • Rama Burshtein – Fill the Void
  • Derek Connolly – Safety Not Guaranteed
  • Christopher Ford – Robot & Frank
  • Rashida Jones & Will McCormack – Celeste and Jesse Forever
  • Jonathan Lisecki – Gayby

John Cassavetes Award for films made under $500,000

  • Breakfast with Curtis
  • Middle of Nowhere
  • Mosquita y Mari
  • Starlet
  • The Color Wheel

Best Female Lead

  • Linda Cardellini – Return
  • Emayatzy Carinealdi – Middle of Nowhere
  • Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Quvenzhane Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead – Smashed

Best Male Lead

  • 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

Best Supporting Female

  • Rosemarie DeWitt – Your Sister’s Sister
  • Ann Dowd – Compliance
  • Helen Hunt – The Sessions
  • Brit Marling – Sound of My Voice
  • Lorraine Toussaint – Middle of Nowhere

Best Supporting Male

  • Matthew McConaughey – Magic Mike
  • David Oyelowo – Middle of Nowhere
  • Michael Pena – End of Watch
  • Sam Rockwell – Seven Psychopaths
  • Bruce Willis – Moonrise Kingdom

Best Cinematography

  • Yoni Brook – Valley of Saints
  • Lol Crawley – Here
  • Ben Richardson – Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Roman Vasyanov – End of Watch
  • Robert Yeoman – Moonrise Kingdom

Best Documentary

  • How to Survive a Plague
  • Mariana Abramovic: The Artist Is Present
  • The Central Park Five
  • The Invisible War
  • The Waiting Room

Best International Film

  • Amour – France
  • Once Upon a Time in Anatolia – Turkey
  • Rust and Bone – France/Belgium
  • Sister – Switzerland
  • War Witch – Democratic Republic of Congo

Robert Altman Award for Ensemble - Starlet

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