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2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards Introduce Gender-Neutral Acting Categories

The 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards held at the Santa Monica Pier beach this afternoon have made history by introducing new gender-neutral acting categories across film and TV. 

The awards ceremony hosted by comedian Hasan Minhaj is the 38th annual ceremony, and the new categories were introduced to celebrate talent in a more inclusive way.

The decision to introduce gender-neutral acting categories is an important step towards recognizing talent based on merit rather than gender. It is a move towards inclusivity, diversity, and equality, and it is likely to inspire other award shows to follow suit.

In addition to the gender-neutral acting categories, the budgetary cap for eligible films was raised from $22.5 million to $30 million. This change will allow for a greater variety of films to be recognized, including those with higher budgets. 

Going forward, the John Cassavetes Awards will be granted to the most innovative crew of a film that has been budgeted at $1 million or less. This alteration guarantees that low-budget productions are also eligible for recognition.

The Film Independent, a non-profit organization that strives to promote independent cinema and diversity in the film industry, allows its members to vote on the Spirit Awards. This event serves as a platform for emerging talent and celebrates the finest achievements in independent filmmaking.

Read also: What to Expect from the Academy Awards 2023

Across Categories

This year’s winners include some of the most outstanding independent films and TV shows of the year. The Best Feature award went to “Red Rocket,” directed by Sean Baker, while “The Lost Daughter,” directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, won the Best Director award. 

Best Female Lead went to Olivia Colman for her role in “The Lost Daughter,” while Best Male Lead went to Simon Rex for his performance in “Red Rocket.”

The Best Supporting Female award went to Jessie Buckley for “The Lost Daughter,” while Best Supporting Male went to Kodi Smit-McPhee for “The Power of the Dog.” The Best Screenplay award went to Jane Campion for “The Power of the Dog,” while Best First Feature went to “Aftersun” by Charlotte Colbert.

In the TV category, the Best New Scripted Series award went to “The White Lotus,” while Best Female Performance in a New Scripted Series went to Jennifer Coolidge for her role in the same show. Best Male Performance in a New Scripted Series went to Michael Greyeyes for his role in “Rutherford Falls.”

The 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards have set a new standard for inclusivity and diversity in the industry. 

The introduction of gender-neutral acting categories and the changes to the budgetary caps demonstrate a commitment to recognizing talent based on merit and not on gender or budget. It is an exciting time for independent cinema, and the future looks bright for emerging talent.

2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards


Best Feature

Bones and All

WINNER: Everything Everywhere All At Once

Our Father, The Devil


Women Talking

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: Shayla Brown, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Kara Guloien, Kate Hallett, Judith Ivey, Rooney Mara, Sheila McCarthy, Frances McDormand, Michelle McLeod, Liv McNeil, Ben Whisaw, August Winter

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

Read also: Movie Must See – With A Female Director and An Authentic, Female Led Cast, “Pomegranate” Is First Ever Iraqi American Narrative Feature Film

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