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Spirit Awards: Jennifer Lopez Picks Up Oscar Steam, but What Happened to ‘Waves’?

Jennifer Lopez is one step closer to getting an Oscar nomination.

J.Lo received her second Film Independent Spirit Award nomination this morning for best supporting female for STX’s “Hustlers.” Awards buzz began building for Lopez as soon as the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September.

While Regina King won both the Spirit Award and Oscar for supporting female last year for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Lopez’s path isn’t as solid. Her Indie Spirit competition includes “The Farewell” favorite Zhao Shuzhen as well as newcomers Taylor Russell (“Waves”) and Lauren “LoLo” Spencer (“Give Me Liberty”). Rounding out the list is Oscar winner Octavia Spencer for “Luce.” The competition at the Oscars will be even tighter with Laura Dern a likely nominee for “Marriage Story.”

Here are nine more highlights and lowlights from this morning’s nominations announcement and how it could affect some key Oscar races…

  1. Where is Lulu Wang? “The Farewell” picked up noms for best feature and for Shuzhen, but Wang’s directing and screenplay were shut out as was Awkwafina for lead female. Perhaps members of the nominating committee figured Wang and Awkwafina will be well taken care by the Academy? Wang, however, was recognized along with Marielle Heller and Kelly Reichardt with a nomination for the Spirits’ Bonnie Award, which recognizes breakthrough women directors.
  2. A24’s “The Lighthouse” and “Uncut Gems” each received five nominations. This may help their chances at the Oscars, but they could be too indie and outside-the-box to receive the same amount of attention from the Academy. The same could be said for “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” which picked up four noms.
  3. Amazon scooped up eight noms, including four for “Honey Boy,” Shia LaBeouf’s biopic about his troubled upbringing. Interestingly, LaBeouf and Noah Jupe are both up for supporting male. This could muddy the waters a bit come Oscar time, because the streamer is pushing Jupe for lead and LaBeouf for supporting.
  4. Elisabeth Moss has been working the awards circuit and looks like it paid off. She’s among the female lead nominees for her portrayal of a Courtney Love-like addict and rock star in “Her Smell.” It could give her an extra push for Oscar recognition, so look for more Moss on the campaign trail.
  5. Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut “Booksmart” is up for best first feature, but that’s it. The fan favorite and critically acclaimed coming-of-age dramedy isn’t an Oscar front runner but there’s been some traction, especially for screenplay. However, the lack of Spirit noms may have taken some of the wind out of its high school angst sails.
  6. Terrence Malick’s real-life World War II drama “A Hidden Life” was a surprise for best feature. As with many of Malick’s films, it’s been in the Oscar conversation. The Spirit nom just gave it some needed visibility to help it move forward to the Dolby.
  7. “Waves” didn’t make much of a splash with the Spirit awards. It was one of the must-see films on the awards circuit, but Russell earned its sole nomination. It was released just a week ago, so there may still be time for it to pick up support in time for Oscar noms, but it’s a heavy drama that may not be a main attraction for voters during the holidays.
  8. Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson and Laura Dern are MIA for “Marriage Story.” They weren’t shut out — the Noah Baumbach divorce drama will instead receive the Robert Altman Award for ensemble, making it ineligible for individual acting nominations. The Netflix title is also way on its way to the Oscars with Spirit nominations for best feature and best screenplay. Among the films that won the best picture Oscar after receiving the feature award at the Spirits are “12 Years a Slave,” “Birdman,” “Moonlight” and “Spotlight.”
  9. Besides the above-mentioned ensemble honor for “Marriage Story,” it might look like Netflix’s other indie-esque hopefuls — “Dolemite,” “Laundromat,” “The Two Popes” and “The King” — were shut out, but they weren’t. They weren’t eligible for one reason or another.

The Spirit Awards will be held on Feb. 8 at the beach in Santa Monica and broadcast live on IFC at 2 p.m. PT/5 p p.m. ET.

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