Source: Searchlight Pictures


Nomadland was named best feature and Chloe Zhao best director while Carey Mulligan and Riz Ahmed took lead acting honours at the virtual 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards on Thursday night (April 22).

Searchlight Pictures’ Nomadland won four prizes on the night including Joshua James Richards for cinematography, and editing for Zhao, who was one of four women nominated in the directing category and has enjoyed a magnificent awards season.

Amazon Studios’ Sound Of Metal earned three awards for Ahmed, supporting actor Paul Raci, and first feature for Darius Marder.

Focus Features’ Promising Young Woman collected two including Emerald Fennell for best screenplay on top of Mulligan’s win. Yuh-Jung Youn from Plan B/A24’s Minari was named best supporting actress.

Jasmila Žbanić’s Academy Awards nominee Quo Vadis, Aida, distributed in the US via Super Ltd, won best international film, and Netflix’s Crip Camp was named best documentary. All the aforementioned winners are nominated for Oscars on Sunday, which will round out the awards season.

Palm Springs won best first screenplay for Andy Siara, and the John Cassavetes Award went to Merawi Gerima’s Residue. The Robert Altman Award for best ensemble went to Amazon Studios’ One Night In Miami starring Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Gorre, Leslie Odom Jr., and Aldis Hodge. Regina King directed.

While Promising Young Woman triumphed on the night, stablemate Never Rarely Sometimes Always, which started the night with a leading seven nominations, did not convert a single one.

Netflix titles The Trial Of The Chicago 7, Da 5 Bloods, Mank, The Midnight Sky, The Prom, and Hillbilly Elegy were ineligible for Spirit Awards because their budget exceeded the $22.5m budget cap.

In the inaugural TV categories, Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You was named best new scripted series. It had already been awarded best ensemble cast in a new scripted series in the run-up to the show. Starring alongside Coel are Paapa Essiedu, Wruche Opia, and Stephen Wight.

Shira Haas and Amit Rahav won acting in a new scripted series prizes for Unorthodox.

In a “one-time” break from tradition, the awards show took place as an evening event and vacated its traditional afternoon slot on Santa Monica beach the day before the Oscars. The show was broadcast live on IFC.

Winners appear below in bold:


Best feature

  • First Cow
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Minari
  • Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  • Nomadland

Best director

  • Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
  • Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman
  • Eliza Hittman, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  • Kelly Reichardt, First Cow
  • Chloe Zhao, Nomadland

Best first feature (award given to director and producer)

  • I Carry You With Me
  • The Forty-Year-Old Version
  • Miss Juneteenth
  • Nine Days
  • Sound Of Metal

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, Sound Of Metal
  • Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Adarsh Gourav, The White Tiger
  • Rob Morgan, Bull
  • Steven Yeun, Minari

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

  • 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, 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

  • Andy Canny, The Invisible Man
  • Scott Cummings, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  • Merawi Gerima, Residue
  • Enat Sidi, Carry You With Me
  • Chloé Zhao, Nomadland

John Cassavetes Award

  • The Killing Of Two Lovers
  • La Leyenda Negra
  • Lingua Franca
  • Residue
  • Saint Frances

Robert Altman Award

  • One Night In Miami…

Best documentary

  • Collective
  • Crip Camp
  • Dick Johnson Is Dead
  • The Mole Agent
  • Time

Best international film

  • Bacurau
  • 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, director of The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain
  • Ekwa Msangi, director of Farewell Amor
  • Annie Silverstein, director of Bull

Truer Than Fiction Award

  • Cecilia Aldarondo, director of Landfall
  • Elegance Bratton, director of Pier Kids
  • Elizabeth Lo, director of Stray


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 new scripted series

  • I May Destroy You
  • Little America
  • Small Axe
  • A Teacher
  • Unorthodox

Best female performance in a new 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, Zero, Zero, Zero

Best ensemble cast in a new scripted series

  • I May Destroy You - Michaela Coel, Paapa Essiedu, Wruche Opia, Stephen Wight