Now that the seemingly infinite hell of election season has reached its merciful end, it’s time to move on to what is pretty much the election season of movies: awards season! The Golden Globes, Oscars, industry guilds and various critical bodies will soon hand down their rulings on the best films, performances, and technical achievements of 2016, but before that ball gets rolling and flattens all nuanced criticism in its way, the Independent Spirit Awards will have their say. The nominations for the slightly left-of-center awards program were announced yesterday, and the unusually stellar lineup provides a nice reminder that the whole “2016 was a disaster at the movies!” narrative only applies to Hollywood studio pictures.

Listen closely and you can hear champagne corks popping at boutique distributor A24’s New York headquarters: their releases Moonlight and American Honey led the pack of nominees with six nods apiece, both landing in the race for Best Feature. (Produced on a budget of $20 million or under, that is.) They’re joined in that category by Kenneth Lonergan’s superlative Manchester by the Sea — nipping at their heels with five nominations — as well as heating-up biopic Jackie and, weirdly enough, the Tim Roth-led drama Chronic. The Franco-Mexican production surprised a lot of observers when it elbowed into the Best Feature race, but it’s like Dr. Dre said: gotta have that Chronic.

The Best Actress race in particular heralds a tight race between lead actresses in the months to come, with 20th Century Women‘s Annette Bening and Jackie‘s Natalie Portman squaring off against on another, with Loving‘s Ruth Negga, Elle‘s Isabelle Huppert, and American Honey‘s Sasha Lane in the mix as well. It’s an overture to what’s sure to be a well-stocked and unusually contentious awards season, with more worthy films jockeying for dominance than we’ve seen in some time. Take a gander at the full list of nominees at Deadline.

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