Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead

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Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
Presented byIndependent Spirit Awards
First awardedM. Emmet Walsh
Blood Simple (1986)
Last awardedSimon Rex
Red Rocket (2021)

The Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead was an award presented annually at the Independent Spirit Awards to honor an actor who has delivered an outstanding lead performance in an independent film. It was first presented in 1985, with M. Emmet Walsh being the first recipient of the award for his role as Investigator Loren Visser in Blood Simple. It was last presented in 2022 with Simon Rex being the final recipient of the award for his role in Red Rocket.

Jeff Bridges and Philip Seymour Hoffman are the only actors who have received this award more than once, with two wins each.

In 2022, it was announced that the four acting categories would be retired and replaced with two gender neutral categories, with both Best Male Lead and Best Female Lead merging into the Best Lead Performance category.[1]

Winners and nominees[edit]

M. Emmet Walsh won for Blood Simple.
Dennis Quaid won for The Big Easy.
Edward James Olmos won for Stand and Deliver.
Matt Dillon won for Drugstore Cowboy.
Danny Glover won for To Sleep with Anger.
River Phoenix won for My Own Private Idaho.
Jeff Bridges has won the award for American Heart (1993) and Crazy Heart (2009).
Samuel L. Jackson won for Pulp Fiction.
Ian McKellen won for God and Monsters.
Javier Bardem won for Before Night Falls.
Bill Murray won for Lost in Translation.
Philip Seymour Hoffman has won for Capote (2005) and The Savages (2007).
Ryan Gosling won for Half Nelson (2006).
Mickey Rourke won for The Wrestler.
John Hawkes won for The Sessions.
Michael Keaton won for Birdman.
Abraham Attah won for Beasts of No Nation.
Timothée Chalamet won for Call Me by Your Name.
Ethan Hawke won for First Reformed.
Adam Sandler won for Uncut Gems
Riz Ahmed won for Sound of Metal.
Simon Rex was the final recipient for Red Rocket.


Year Winner and nominees Film Role
1985 M. Emmet Walsh Blood Simple[2] Investigator Loren Visser
Rubén Blades Crossover Dreams Rudy Veloz
Tom Bower Wildrose Rick Ogaard
Treat Williams Smooth Talk Arnold Friend
1986 James Woods Salvador Richard Boyle
Roberto Benigni Down by Law Roberto
Willem Dafoe Platoon Sgt. Elias
Dennis Hopper Blue Velvet Frank Booth
Victor Love Native Son Bigger Thomas
1987 Dennis Quaid The Big Easy Det. Remy McSwain
Spalding Gray Swimming to Cambodia Himself
Terry O'Quinn The Stepfather Jerry Blake
Mickey Rourke Barfly Henry Chinaski
James Woods Best Seller Cleve
1988 Edward James Olmos Stand and Deliver Jaime Escalante
Eric Bogosian Talk Radio Barry Champlain
Harvey Fierstein Torch Song Trilogy Arnold Beckoff
Chris Mulkey Patti Rocks Billy Regis
James Woods The Boost Lenny Brown
1989 Matt Dillon Drugstore Cowboy Bob Hughes
Nicolas Cage Vampire's Kiss Peter Loew
Charles Lane Sidewalk Stories Artist
Randy Quaid Parents Nick Laemle
James Spader Sex, Lies, and Videotape Graham Dalton


Year Winner and nominees Film Role
1990 Danny Glover To Sleep with Anger Harry
Martin Priest The Plot Against Harry Harry Plotnick
Christopher Reid House Party Kid
Michael Rooker Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer Henry
Christian Slater Pump Up the Volume Mark Hunter
1991 River Phoenix My Own Private Idaho Mike "Mikey" Waters
Doug E. Doug Hangin' with the Homeboys Willie
Robert Duvall Rambling Rose Daddy Hillyer
Gary Oldman Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead Rosencrantz
William Russ Pastime Roy Dean Bream
1992 Harvey Keitel Bad Lieutenant The Lieutenant
Craig Chester Swoon Nathan Leopold, Jr.
Laurence Fishburne Deep Cover Russell Stevens / John Hull
Peter Greene Laws of Gravity Jimmy
Michael Rapaport Zebrahead Zack
1993 Jeff Bridges American Heart Jack Kelson
Vincent D'Onofrio Household Saints Joseph Santangelo
Mitchell Lichtenstein The Wedding Banquet Simon
Matthew Modine Equinox Henry Petosa / Freddy Ace
Tyrin Turner Menace II Society Caine
1994 Samuel L. Jackson Pulp Fiction Jules Winnfield
Sihung Lung Eat Drink Man Woman Chu
William H. Macy Oleanna John
Campbell Scott Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle Robert Benchley
Jon Seda I Like It Like That Chino Linares
1995 Sean Penn Dead Man Walking Matthew Poncelet
Nicolas Cage Leaving Las Vegas Ben Sanderson
Tim Roth Little Odessa Joshua Shapira
Jimmy Smits My Family Jimmy Sánchez
Kevin Spacey Swimming with Sharks Buddy Ackerman
1996 William H. Macy Fargo Jerry Lundegaard
Chris Cooper Lone Star Sheriff Sam Deeds
Chris Penn The Funeral Chez
Tony Shalhoub Big Night Primo
Stanley Tucci Secondo
1997 Robert Duvall The Apostle Euliss "Sonny" Dewey / The Apostle E.F.
Peter Fonda Ulee's Gold Ulysses "Ulee" Jackson
Christopher Guest Waiting for Guffman Corky St. Clair
Philip Baker Hall Hard Eight Sydney Brown
John Turturro Box of Moon Light Al Fountain
1998 Ian McKellen Gods and Monsters James Whale
Dylan Baker Happiness Bill Maplewood
Nick Nolte Affliction Wade Whitehouse
Sean Penn Hurlyburly Eddie
Courtney B. Vance Blind Faith John Williams
1999 Richard Farnsworth The Straight Story Alvin Straight
John Cusack Being John Malkovich Craig Schwartz
Terence Stamp The Limey Wilson
David Strathairn Limbo Joe "Jumpin" Gastineau
Noble Willingham The Corndog Man Ace Barker


Year Winner and nominees Film Role
Javier Bardem Before Night Falls Reinaldo Arenas
Adrien Brody Restaurant Chris Calloway
Billy Crudup Jesus' Son FH
Hill Harper The Visit Alex Waters
Mark Ruffalo You Can Count on Me Terry Prescott
Tom Wilkinson In the Bedroom Matt Fowler
Brian Cox L.I.E. Big John Harrigan
Ryan Gosling The Believer Danny Balint
Jake Gyllenhaal Donnie Darko Donnie Darko
John Cameron Mitchell Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hansel Schmidt / Hedwig Robinson
Derek Luke Antwone Fisher Antwone "Fish" Fisher
Graham Greene Skins Mogie Yellow Lodge
Danny Huston Ivans Xtc Ivan Beckman
Jeremy Renner Dahmer Jeffrey Dahmer
Campbell Scott Roger Dodger Roger Swanson
Bill Murray Lost in Translation Bob Harris
Peter Dinklage The Station Agent Finbar McBride
Paul Giamatti American Splendor Harvey Pekar
Ben Kingsley House of Sand and Fog Massoud Amir Behrani
Lee Pace Soldier's Girl Calpernia Addams / Scottie
Paul Giamatti Sideways Miles Raymond
Kevin Bacon The Woodsman Walter
Jeff Bridges The Door in the Floor Ted Cole
Jamie Foxx Redemption Stan Tookie Williams
Liam Neeson Kinsey Alfred Kinsey
Philip Seymour Hoffman Capote Truman Capote
Jeff Daniels The Squid and the Whale Bernard Berkman
Terrence Howard Hustle & Flow DJay
Heath Ledger Brokeback Mountain Ennis Del Mar
David Strathairn Good Night, and Good Luck. Edward R. Murrow
Ryan Gosling Half Nelson Dan Dunne
Aaron Eckhart Thank You for Smoking Nick Naylor
Edward Norton The Painted Veil Walter Fane
Ahmad Razvi Man Push Cart Ahmad
Forest Whitaker American Gun Carter
Philip Seymour Hoffman The Savages Jon Savage
Pedro Castaneda August Evening Jaime
Don Cheadle Talk to Me Petey Greene
Frank Langella Starting Out in the Evening Leonard Schiller
Tony Leung Lust, Caution Mr. Yee
Mickey Rourke The Wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson
Javier Bardem Vicky Cristina Barcelona Juan Antonio Gonzalo
Richard Jenkins The Visitor Walter Vale
Sean Penn Milk Harvey Milk
Jeremy Renner The Hurt Locker Staff Sgt. First Class William James
Jeff Bridges Crazy Heart Otis "Bad" Blake
Colin Firth A Single Man George Falconer
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500) Days of Summer Tom Hansen
Souleymane Sy Savane Goodbye Solo Solo
Adam Scott The Vicious Kind Caleb Sinclaire


Year Winner and nominees Film Role
James Franco 127 Hours Aron Ralston
Ronald Bronstein Daddy Longlegs Lenny Sokol
Aaron Eckhart Rabbit Hole Howie Corbett
John C. Reilly Cyrus John Kilpatrick
Ben Stiller Greenberg Roger Greenberg
Jean Dujardin The Artist George Valentin
Demián Bichir A Better Life Carlos Galindo
Ryan Gosling Drive Driver
Woody Harrelson Rampart Dave Brown
Michael Shannon Take Shelter Curtis LaForche
John Hawkes The Sessions Mark O'Brien
Jack Black Bernie Bernie Tiede
Bradley Cooper Silver Linings Playbook Patrick "Pat" Solitano, Jr.
Thure Lindhardt Keep the Lights On Erik
Matthew McConaughey Killer Joe Joe "Killer" Cooper
Wendell Pierce Four Joe
Matthew McConaughey Dallas Buyers Club Ron Woodroof
Bruce Dern Nebraska Woody Grant
Chiwetel Ejiofor 12 Years a Slave Solomon Northup
Oscar Isaac Inside Llewyn Davis Llewyn Davis
Michael B. Jordan Fruitvale Station Oscar Grant III
Robert Redford All Is Lost Our Man
Michael Keaton Birdman Riggan Thomson
André 3000 Jimi: All Is by My Side Jimi Hendrix
Jake Gyllenhaal Nightcrawler Louis "Lou" Bloom
John Lithgow Love Is Strange Ben
David Oyelowo Selma Martin Luther King Jr.
Abraham Attah Beasts of No Nation Agu
Christopher Abbott James White James White
Ben Mendelsohn Mississippi Grind Gerry
Jason Segel The End of the Tour David Foster Wallace
Koudous Seihon Mediterranea Aviva
Casey Affleck Manchester by the Sea Lee Chandler
David Harewood Free in Deed Abe Wilkins
Viggo Mortensen Captain Fantastic Ben Cash
Jesse Plemons Other People David Mulcahey
Tim Roth Chronic David Wilson
Timothée Chalamet Call Me by Your Name Elio Perlman
Harris Dickinson Beach Rats Frankie
James Franco The Disaster Artist Tommy Wiseau
Daniel Kaluuya Get Out Chris Washington
Robert Pattinson Good Time Constantine "Connie" Nikas
Ethan Hawke First Reformed Ernst Toller
John Cho Searching David Kim
Daveed Diggs Blindspotting Collin Hoskins
Christian Malheiros Sócrates Sócrates
Joaquin Phoenix You Were Never Really Here Joe
Adam Sandler Uncut Gems Howard Ratner
Chris Galust Give Me Liberty Vic
Kelvin Harrison Jr. Luce Luce Edgar
Robert Pattinson The Lighthouse Thomas Howard
Matthias Schoenaerts The Mustang Roman Coleman


Year Winner and nominees Film Role
Riz Ahmed Sound of Metal Ruben Stone
Chadwick Boseman (posthumous) Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Levee Green
Adarsh Gourav The White Tiger Balram Halwai
Rob Morgan Bull Abe
Steven Yeun Minari Jacob Yi
Simon Rex Red Rocket Mikey Saber
Clifton Collins Jr. Jockey Jackson Silva
Frankie Faison The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.
Michael Greyeyes Wild Indian Makwa ("Michael Peterson")
Udo Kier Swan Song Pat Pitsenbarger

Multiple nominees[edit]

Multiple winners[edit]

2 wins

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chapman, Wilson (August 23, 2022). "Spirit Awards to Implement Gender Neutral Acting Categories". Variety. Retrieved September 9, 2022.
  2. ^[bare URL PDF]
  3. ^ "Tiger Takes 3 Spirit Awards". ABC News. March 24, 2001. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  4. ^ ""Memento" Has the Spirit". E! Online. March 23, 2002. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  5. ^ Hernandez, Eugene; Brooks, Brian (March 22, 2003). ""Far From Heaven" Sweeps 2003 Independent Spirit Awards". IndieWire. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  6. ^ Hernandez, Eugene (February 28, 2004). ""Lost In Translation" Tops Independent Spirit Awards, "Station Agent" Another Big Winner". IndieWire. Retrieved August 20, 2012.
  7. ^ Hernandez, Eugene (February 28, 2005). "Sideways Wins Six at Independent Spirit Awards". IndieWire. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  8. ^ Germain, David (March 4, 2006). "'Brokeback' named best independent film". USA Today. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  9. ^ McNary, Dave (February 24, 2007). "'Sunshine' brightens Spirit Awards". Variety. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  10. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (February 23, 2008). "'Juno' tops Spirit Awards". Variety. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
  11. ^ Brooks, Brian (February 21, 2009). ""The Wrestler" Leads 2009 Spirit Award Winners". IndieWire. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  12. ^ Breznican, Anthony (March 6, 2010). "'Precious' dominates Spirit Awards with 5 prizes". USA Today. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  13. ^ Knegt, Peter (February 27, 2011). ""Black Swan" Lead Spirit Award Winners". IndieWire. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  14. ^ McNary, Dave (February 25, 2012). "'The Artist' dominates Spirit Awards". Variety. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  15. ^ "Independent Spirit Awards 2013: Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. February 23, 2013. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  16. ^ Atkinson, Katie. "Independent Spirit Awards 2014: The winners list". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  17. ^ "Spirit Awards 2015: The Complete Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. February 21, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  18. ^ "Spirit Awards 2016: Complete Winners List". Variety. February 27, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  19. ^ Earl, William (February 26, 2017). "2017 Independent Spirit Awards: Full Winners List". IndieWire. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  20. ^ Nyren, Erin (March 3, 2018). "2018 Independent Spirit Awards: Winners List (Updating Live)". Variety. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  21. ^ Welk, Brian (February 24, 2019). "Independent Spirit Awards 2019: Complete Winners List". TheWrap. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  22. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony; Blyth, Antonia (February 8, 2020). "Independent Spirit Awards Redresses Female Balance With Wins For Lulu Wang, Olivia Wilde & Julia Reichert – Complete Winners List". Deadline. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  23. ^ Grobar, Matt (April 22, 2021). "'Nomadland' Wins Independent Spirit Awards For Best Picture, Director, Editing & Cinematography, Further Solidifying Oscars Prospects". Deadline. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  24. ^ Sharf, Zack (April 23, 2021). "2021 Independent Spirit Awards Winner's List". IndieWire. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  25. ^ Long, Brent; Tangcay, Jazz (December 14, 2021). "Indie Spirit Awards 2022: Full List of Nominations". Variety. Retrieved December 14, 2021.

External links[edit]