Since the beginning of this year, everyone has known that Silver Linings Playbook would be a major awards contender. Adapted from a well-reviewed book, the film is directed by Oscar nominee David O. Russel (The Fighter) and features an impressive cast including Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Jacki Weaver, and Robert de Niro. It premiered to high praise at the festivals months ago, but after lackluster box office performance it is quickly fading from the public mind.
The movie just got some much needed attention when the nominations for the Indie Spirit Awards were announced. The Indie Spirits are given out by a large non-profit to honor incredible achievements in filmmaking in independently produced movies. Silver Linings Playbook was nominated in five categories, including Best Feature, Best Director, Best Female Lead, and Best Screenplay.
The problem is, it seems Silver Linings Playbook may not have actually been eligible for an Indie Spirit. The film is independently produced, but its budget was reported to be $21 million when the rules state $20 million is the limit.
The Weinstein Company, which is distributing Silver Linings Playbook, claims once you factor in tax breaks the film could be as low as $16 million. Films are not required to officially release their budget and the final call goes to the people running the Indie Spirits. It appears they did not demand proof that no more than $20 million was spent.
The issue is upsetting many because unlike Silver Linings Playbook, most of the Indie Spirit nominees (like Keep the Lights On) have virtually no Oscar chance and this is one of very few chances to get their movies known. Furthermore, having Silver Linings Playbook in the running greatly hurts the chances for Beasts of the Southern Wild to win Best Feature and Best Female Lead. Southern Wild distributors are campaigning hard for their movie to get nominated in these categories at the Oscars, but since the movie was so low profile, lower budget, and not as well-received, it is an uphill battle. In other words, Indie Spirit Awards attention is going to help Silver Linings Playbook get Oscar wins (a nomination in Best Actress is a lock and Best Picture is very likely), while attention for Beasts of the Southern Wild will get that film nominations (it is not a guarantee in any slot at the Oscars).