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'Moonlight,' 'American Honey' to vie at Spirit Awards

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/25/2017 By JAKE COYLE, AP Film Writer
This image released by A24 Films shows Alex Hibbert in a scene from the film, "Moonlight." The film is nominated for an Oscar for best picture. The 89th Academy Awards will take place on Feb. 26. (David Bornfriend/A24 via AP) © The Associated Press This image released by A24 Films shows Alex Hibbert in a scene from the film, "Moonlight." The film is nominated for an Oscar for best picture. The 89th Academy Awards will take place on Feb. 26. (David Bornfriend/A24 via AP)

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — The last three best-feature winners at the Film Independent Spirit Awards have gone on to win best-picture the next day at the Academy Awards, but that streak appears likely to snap this year.

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2017 file photo, Barry Jenkins arrives at the 89th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. With "Fences," ''Hidden Figures," ''Loving" and "Moonlight" in the Oscar mix, #Oscarssowhite may be a thing of the past. Is this a blip or signs of progress? And if there aren't big wins, is it still a win for diversity? (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2017 file photo, Barry Jenkins arrives at the 89th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. With "Fences," ''Hidden Figures," ''Loving" and "Moonlight" in the Oscar mix, #Oscarssowhite may be a thing of the past. Is this a blip or signs of progress? And if there aren't big wins, is it still a win for diversity? (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

The Oscar favorite "La La Land," a smidge too pricey with a $30 million budget to qualify for the indie awards, isn't in the hunt at Saturday's awards. The leading contenders are Barry Jenkins' coming-of-age tale "Moonlight" and Andrea Arnold's heartland odyssey "American Honey." Both are up for a leading six nods, including best feature and best director.

While "Moonlight," up for eight Oscars, is likely to take home some awards Sunday, "American Honey" and other smaller releases will get their day in the sun Saturday. The Spirit Awards, held under a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, California, are the dressed-down, afternoon antidote to the Academy Awards, where cocktails and indie pride are consumed in equal measure.

The Spirit Awards, which will air live on IFC beginning at 2 p.m. PST, have often been a kind of a seaside dress rehearsal for the Oscars. Before "Spotlight," ''Birdman" and "12 Years a Slave" triumphed at the Academy Awards, they also won at the Spirits the day before.

Some still believe "Moonlight" or Kenneth Lonergan's "Manchester by the Sea" (up for five Spirits, including best feature and best actor for Casey Affleck) have an underdog's chance of upsetting the "La La Land" juggernaut. But that film's hefty Oscar haul — a record-tying 14 nods — has given the sense of an impending sweep.

The other best-feature candidates at the Spirits are "Jackie" (whose Natalie Portman is also up for best actress) and "Chronic," one of the awards' more off-the-map selections. The film stars Tim Roth as a homecare nurse.

Other somewhat-under-the-radar nominees include "The Fits," from first-time director Anna Rose Holmer, Robert Eggers' "The Witch," Chris Kelly's "Other People" and Andrew Ahn's "Spa Night."

Nominations are chosen by members of Film Independent, which includes critics, filmmakers, actors, festival programmers, past winners and nominees, and members of its board of directors. Hosting this year's ceremony are comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney.

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