Film Independent Spirit Awards 2021 nominees: female directors dominate and Chadwick Boseman receives posthumous nod

Eliza Hittman's 'Never Rarely Sometimes Always' leads the way with seven nominations

This image released by Focus Features shows Sidney Flanigan in a scene from "Never Rarely Sometimes Always." The film was nominated for seven Independent Film Spirit Awards including one for best feature. (Focus Features via AP)
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As a scaled-back awards season prepares to get under way, the Film Independent Spirit Awards has announced its 2021 crop of nominees.

Leading the way is teenage drama Never Rarely Sometimes Always, which landed seven nominations, while awards season front-runners Minari and Nomadland also received several nods.

Women dominate the Best Director category, making up four out of the five nominees, while late actor Chadwick Boseman is posthumously nominated for Best Male Lead.

The 36th annual Spirit Awards, like most awards shows during the pandemic, are adjusting to difficult circumstances brought about by the pandemic.

Tuesday's nominees were announced virtually, with taped messages from Olivia Wilde, Laverne Cox and Barry Jenkins — who was joined by his dog, Chauncey Wang-Jenkins. The awards, usually held in a tent on Santa Monica Beach in California the day before the Oscars, have been postponed to a prime time broadcast on Thursday, April 22, three days before the Academy Awards.

“2020 was obviously hell on earth but one glorious lifeline these past few months has been the ability to watch so many great films and shows," said Josh Welsh, president of Film Independent, during the presentation streamed on YouTube.

Eliza Hittman's Never Rarely Sometimes Always racked up nominations for Best Feature Film, Best Director and Best Female Lead for Sidney Flanigan. It was followed closely by Lee Isaac Chung's Korean immigrant family drama Minari, with six nominations including Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Male Lead for Steven Yeun and supporting nods for Han Ye-ri and Youn Yuh-jung. Chloe Zhoe's Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand, scored five nods, including Best Feature, Best Director and Best Female Lead for McDormand.

The other nominees for Best Feature were Kelly Reichardt's First Cow (also up for Best Director and Best Supporting Male for Orion Lee) and George C Wolfe's August Wilson adaptation Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Viola Davis and Boseman, the two stars of Ma Rainey were also nominated, as was Glynn Turman.

The Spirits' Robert Altman Award, an honour for a film's ensemble, will go to Regina King's feature film directorial debut One Night in Miami ..., a fictional account of a 1960s meeting of Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown.

Nominations for the Spirits are limited to films made for less than $22.5 million.

Also on Tuesday, the National Board of Review gave a boost to Spike Lee's Vietnam War drama Da 5 Bloods, naming it best film along with awards for directing and best ensemble.

Other picks by the long-running organisation of film enthusiasts, which usually holds a gala for winners in New York, included Soul for Best Animated Film, Time for Best Documentary and acting awards for Carey Mulligan's turn in Promising Young Woman and Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal.

Additional reporting by Associated Press