The Independent Spirit Awards is an annual awards ceremony celebrating exclusively independent movies. The budget cap for these movies is $30 million, which on its own sounds like a lot, but in comparison with a big-budget studio movie like Spider-Man: No way Home, whose budget was $200 million, is evidently not so much. Taylour Paige and Raúl Castillo made the announcements of the 2023 nominees via YouTube. Leading the pack this year are Everything Everywhere All at Once and Tár, with eight and seven nominations, respectively. Both of these movies have nominations in the Best Supporting Performance category, although Everything Everywhere All at Once has two, and Tár has one. That said, having more nominations in one category doesn’t mean the movie is more likely to win – it’s possible that this will split the votes.
For 2023, The Independent Spirit Awards has decided to forgo the usual gendered categories of best supporting actor and actress. Instead, they’ve combined the categories so that best supporting performance will receive ten nominations rather than the previously given five. Other movies with nominations in this category include Causeway, The Cathedral, Bruiser, Emily the Criminal, Bones and All, Palm Trees and Power Lines, and The Inspection. But, most importantly, who should win? Here’s how we would rank the Best Supporting Performance nominees.
10/10 Jonathan Tucker — Palm Trees and Power Lines
First up, we have Jonathan Tucker. He has been nominated for his role as Tom in Palm Trees and Power Lines. The movie follows Lea, played by Lily McInerny. Director Jamie Dack describes the plot to Sundance as “a disconnected teenage girl enters a relationship with a man twice her age. She sees him as the solution to all her problems, but his intentions are not what they seem.” Tucker’s performance as Tom is impressive and successful, but up against some real heavy-hitting roles he falls behind.
9/10 Brian D’Arcy James — The Cathedral
Next comes Brian D’Arcy James as Richard Damrosch in The Cathedral. This film centers around only child Jesse and his impressions of his family in the 80s. Richard Damrosch is his father and the role is heartbreaking and subtle. Watching the rise and fall of this family play out through the eyes of young Jesse creates an intimate feeling, so the lows hit even harder. James does an excellent job as a father masking his pain.
8/10 Theo Rossi — Emily the Criminal
In Emily the Criminal, Theo Rossi plays Youcef. Aubrey Plaza stars in the main role as Emily, a college graduate with more debt than she can handle. She is introduced to a credit card fraud scheme by a friend, which is where Youcef comes in. He is the ringleader of the operation and his calm attitude lulls both Emily and the audience into a false sense of security. Their chemistry is strong, but Rossi isn’t listed higher because his performance is somewhat outshined by Plaza’s impressive turn.
7/10 Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Our first entry for Everything Everywhere All at Once brings Jamie Lee Curtis in at number seven. She plays Deirdre, an IRS auditor who inspects the Wang family’s taxes. The movie then takes a turn as main character Evelyn is thrust into the multiverse. It’s a terribly fun role, and she does it well, but it’s no match for the second Everything Everywhere nomination. More on that to come…
6/10 Gabrielle Union — The Inspection
The Inspection is the semi-autobiographical story of a young gay man, played by Jeremy Pope, who joins the marines in order to avoid homelessness and even death. Gabrielle Union plays his mother, Inez French, a staunchly Christian woman who cannot find it in herself to love her gay son. Union’s performance is hugely impressive; she doesn’t allow her character to be reduced to a single facet even with a short amount of time to do it in. The fact that Union comes in at number six on this list speaks to the quality of each nominee.
5/10 Trevante Rhodes — Bruiser
Known for his role in Moonlight, Trevante Rhodes does some more impactful and impressive work here in Bruiser. The movie’s main character is Darious, played by Jalyn Hall, a young teenager who finds himself lost between seventh and eighth grade. He encounters Rhodes’s character, Porter, in the woods after getting into a fight. Porter becomes a fatherly figure in his life, providing an ear to listen in a way that his parents cannot. Rhodes proves himself to be a master of portraying layered masculinity with this triumphant performance.
4/10 Brian Tyree Henry — Causeway
Recognizable from roles in a variety of projects Atlanta to Eternals, Brian Tyree Henry is no amateur. In Causeway, he plays James, a mechanic who befriends Jennifer Lawrence’s Lynsey. The two form an unlikely and touching bond as he brings her back out into the world after she experiences a traumatic brain injury. Their friendship is lovely to watch with their easy affection and teasing. Henry brings a special layer of warmth to the movie that couldn’t have been done in the same way by another actor.
3/10 Nina Hoss — Tár
Tár is a movie packed with strong performers. The fact that Hoss holds her own against Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár speaks volumes. The two play a couple who begin the movie a strong pair, but the relationship breaks down as the movie progresses. Tár is not dialogue-heavy and Hoss compensates well with subtle and evocative expressions.
2/10 Ke Huy Quan — Everything Everywhere All at Once
Now, for the second Everything Everywhere nomination. Ke Huy Quan plays Waymond Wang, Evelyn’s husband. Because of the nature of the multiverse, Quan plays a number of versions of Waymond throughout the movie. It’s an emotional, powerful performance that packs a punch at the climax of the movie.
1/10 Mark Rylance — Bones and All
If it’s not clear from the title, Bones and All follows the life of a young cannibal, Maren. She leaves home in search of her mother and meets others like her along the way, Mark Rylance‘s Sully being one of them. He is a constant source of creeping tension throughout the movie. Sully has great depths and a shiftiness that means you never know what he might do next. Rylance’s performance is incomparable in combined uneasiness and sympathy.