Enhanced Eligibility: 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards Raise Budget Cap for Films

In a historic move at the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards held at the Santa Monica Pier, a groundbreaking introduction was made with the inclusion of new gender-neutral acting categories for both film and television.

These newly introduced categories reflect a broader, more inclusive approach to recognizing talent at the 38th annual ceremony, hosted by comedian Hasan Minhaj. The decision to create gender-neutral acting categories is a significant stride toward acknowledging talent solely based on merit, transcending gender barriers. This step is aligned with the overarching goals of equality, diversity, and inclusivity, setting a precedent that other award shows may consider following.

Furthermore, the cap on budgets for eligible films has been raised from $22.5 million to $30 million. This adjustment aims to broaden the spectrum of films eligible for recognition, including those with higher budgets. This change ensures that low-budget productions will continue to have a place in the spotlight, as exemplified by future John Cassavetes Award recipients, dedicated to celebrating the most creative teams behind movies with a budget of $1 million or less.

Film Independent, a non-profit organization committed to fostering diversity in independent film and the film industry, empowers its members to vote in the Spirit Awards. The event serves as a stage for emerging talent and a platform to honor the best in independent filmmaking.

Among this year’s winners were outstanding independent films and TV shows. “Red Rocket,” directed by Sean Baker, was awarded the Best Feature, while “The Lost Daughter,” directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, clinched the Best Director title. Notable individual awards included Olivia Colman receiving Best Female Lead for her role in “The Lost Daughter” and Simon Rex securing Best Male Lead for his performance in “Red Rocket.”

The Best Supporting Female award was bestowed upon Jessie Buckley for “The Lost Daughter,” and Kodi Smit-McPhee took home the Best Supporting Male award for “The Power of the Dog.” Jane Campion claimed the Best Screenplay award for “The Power of the Dog,” and “Aftersun” by Charlotte Colbert was honored as the Best First Feature.

In the realm of television, “The White Lotus” was recognized as the Best New Scripted Series, with Jennifer Coolidge winning Best Female Performance in a New Scripted Series for her role in the same show. Michael Greyeyes secured the title of Best Male Performance in a New Scripted Series for “Rutherford Falls.”

The 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards have set an industry benchmark for inclusivity and diversity. The introduction of gender-neutral acting categories and the expanded budgetary caps underscore the commitment to evaluating talent based solely on merit, irrespective of gender or budget. This marks an exciting era for independent cinema, with a promising future for emerging talent.

Film Independent Spirit Awards 2023 Winners


Best Feature:

“Bones and All”

“Our Father, The Devil”


“Women Talking”

WINNER: “Everything Everywhere All At Once”

Best Director:

Todd Field, “Tár”

Kogonada, “After Yang”

WINNER: Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Sarah Polley, “Women Talking”

Halina Reijn, “Bodies Bodies Bodies”

Best First Feature:

WINNER: “Aftersun”

“Emily the Criminal”

“The Inspection”


“Palm Trees and Power Lines”

Best Lead Performance:

Cate Blanchett, “Tár”

Dale Dickey, “A Love Song”

Mia Goth, “Pearl”

Regina Hall, “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.”

Paul Mescal, “Aftersun”

Aubrey Plaza, “Emily the Criminal”

Jeremy Pope, “The Inspection”

Taylor Russell, “Bones and All”

Andrea Riseborough, “To Leslie”

WINNER: Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Best Supporting Performance:

Jamie Lee Curtis, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Brian Tyree Henry, “Causeway”

Nina Hoss, “Tár”

Brian d’Arcy James, “The Cathedral”

WINNER: Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Trevante Rhodes, “Bruiser”

Theo Rossi, “Emily the Criminal”

Mark Rylance, “Bones and All”

Jonathan Tucker, “Palm Trees and Power Lines”

Gabrielle Union, “The Inspection”

Best Breakthrough Performance:

Frankie Corio, “Aftersun”

Gracija Filipović, “Murina”

WINNER: Stephanie Hsu, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Lily McInerny, “Palm Trees and Power Lines”

Daniel Zolghadri, “Funny Pages”

Best Screenplay:

Kogonada, “After Yang”

Lena Dunham, “Catherine Called Birdy”

WINNER: Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Todd Field, “Tár”

Sarah Polley, “Women Talking”

Best First Screenplay:

Sarah Delappe, “Bodies Bodies Bodies”

K.D. Dávila, “Emergency”

WINNER: John Patton Ford, “Emily the Criminal”

Joel Kim Booster, “Fire Island”

Jamie Back and Audrey Findlay, “Palm Trees and Power Lines”

Best Cinematography:

Gregory Oke, “Aftersun”

Hélène Louvart, “Murina”

Anisa Uzeyman, “Neptune Frost”

Eliot Rockett, “Pearl”

WINNER: Florian Hoffmeister, “Tár”

Best Editing:

Blair McClendon, “Aftersun”

Ricky D’Ambrose, “The Cathedral”

WINNER: Paul Rogers, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Dean Fleischer Camp & Nick Paley, “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”

Monika Willi, “Tár”

Robert Altman Award:

“Women Talking,” director Sarah Polley; casting directors John Buchan and Jason Knight; ensemble cast

Best Documentary:

“A House Made of Splinters”

“All That Breathes”

WINNER: “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”


“Riotsville, U.S.A.”

Best International Film:

“Corsage” (Austria, Luxembourg, France, Italy, England)

WINNER: “Joyland” (Pakistan, USA)

“Leonor Will Never Die” (Philippines)

“Return to Seoul” (South Korea, France, Belgium, Romania)

“Saint Omer” (France)

Someone to Watch Award:

Adamma Ebo, “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.”

WINNER: Nikyatu Jusu, “Nanny”

Araceli Lemos, “Holy Emy”

Truer Than Fiction Award:

Isabel Castro, “Mija”

WINNER: Reid Davenport, “I Didn’t See You There”

Rebeca Huntt, “Beba”

John Cassavetes Award:

“The African Desperate”

“A Love Song”

WINNER: “The Cathedral”

“Holy Emy”

“Something in the Dirt”

Producers Award:

Liz Cardenas

WINNER: Tory Lenosky

David Grove Churchill Viste


Best New Scripted Series:

WINNER: “The Bear”


“The Porter”


“Station Eleven”

Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series:

“Children of the Underground”

“Mind Over Murder”

“Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?”

WINNER: “The Rehearsal”

“We Need to Talk About Cosby”

Best Lead Performance in a New Scripted Series:

Aml Ameen, “The Porter”

Mohammed Amer, “Mo”

WINNER: Quinta Brunson, “Abbott Elementary”

Bridget Everett, “Somebody Somewhere”

KaMillion, “Rap Sh!t”

Melanie Lynskey, “Yellowjackets”

Himesh Patel, “Station Eleven”

Sue Ann Pien, “As We See It”

Adam Scott, “Severance”

Ben Whishaw, “This Is Going to Hurt”

Best Supporting Performance in a New Scripted Series:

Danielle Deadwyler, “Station Eleven”

WINNER: Ayo Edibiri, “The Bear”

Jeff Hiller, “Somebody Somewhere”

Gbemisola Ikumelo, “A League of Their Own”

Janelle James, “Abbott Elementary”

Ebon Moss-Bachrach, “The Bear”

Frankie Quiñones, “This Fool”

Sheryl Lee Ralph, “Abbott Elementary”

Molly Shannon, “I Love That For You”

Tramell Tillman, “Severance”

Best Ensemble Cast in a New Scripted Series:


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