The 2014 Independent Spirit Awards, celebrating the best of the year in independent cinema, has revealed its nominees with Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave leading the competition with seven nominations.

Alongside 12 Years a Slave, J.C. Chandor’s lost at sea film All Is Lost, Noah Baumbach’s story of a New York woman pursuing her dream of modern dance Frances Ha, the Coen brothers’ 1960s folk story Inside Llewyn Davis, and Alexander Payne’s father/son road trip dramedy Nebraska all picked up nominations for Best Feature. The adoration didn’t end there, however, as many other films were rewarded in different categories.

It’s been a strong year for independent cinema, and it showed in the nominations. The likes of Blue Jasmine, Fruitvale Station, Short Term 12, Dallas Buyers Club, Before Midnight, The Spectacular Now, Enough Said, Mud, and Upstream Color were all given multiple nominations in categories down the line. These and many other films will be recognized at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards, hosted by Patton Oswalt, on March 1, 2014 in Santa Monica.

Here are the nominees:

BEST FEATURE:

12 Years A Slave
All Is Lost
Frances Ha
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska

BEST LEAD FEMALE:

Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Julie Delpy – Before Midnight
Gaby Hoffman – Crystal Fairy
Brie Larson – Short Term 12
Shailene Woodley – The Spectacular Now

BEST LEAD MALE:

Bruce Dern – Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years A Slave
Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis
Michael B. Jordan – Fruitvale Station
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford – All Is Lost

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE:

Melonie Diaz – Fruitvale Station
Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine
Lupita N’Yongo – 12 Years A Slave
Yolanda Ross – Go For Sisters
June Squibb – Nebraska

BEST SUPPORTING MALE:

Michael Fassbender – 12 Years A Slave
Will Forte – Nebraska
James Gandolfini – Enough Said
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Keith Stanfield – Short Term 12

BEST DIRECTOR:

Shane Carruth – Upstream Color
J.C. Chandor – All Is Lost
Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave
Jeff Nichols – Mud
Alexander Payne – Nebraska

BEST FIRST FEATURE:

Blue Caprice
Concussion
Fruitvale Station
Una Noche
Wadjda

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD:

Computer Chess
Crystal Fairy
Museum Hours
Pit Stop
This Is Martin Bonner

BEST SCREENPLAY:

Woody Allen – Blue Jasmine
Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater – Before Midnight
Nicole Holofcener – Enough Said
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber – The Spectacular Now
John Ridley – 12 Years A Slave

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY:

Lake Bell – In A World
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Don Jon
Bob Nelson – Nebraska
Jill Soloway – Afternoon Delight
Michael Starburry – The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister & Pete

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Sean Bobbitt – 12 Years A Slave
Benoit Debie – Spring Breakers
Bruno Delbonnel – Inside Llewyn Davis
Frank G. Demarco – All Is Lost
Matthias Grunsky – Computer Chess

BEST EDITING:

Shane Carruth & David Lowery – Upstream Color
Jem Cohen & Marc Vives – Museum Hours
Jennifer Lame – Frances Ha
Cindy Lee – Una Noche
Nat Sanders – Short Term 12

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM:

A Touch Of Sin
Blue Is The Warmest Color
Gloria
The Great Beauty
The Hunt

BEST DOCUMENTARY

The Act Of Killing
After Tiller
Gideon’s Army
The Square
Twenty Feet From Stardom

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD

Toby Halbrooks & James M. Johnson
Jacob Jaffke
Andrea Roa
Ferderick Thornton

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARDS:

Kalyanee Mam – A River Changes Course
Jason Osder – Let The Fire Burn
Stephanie Spray & Pancho Valez – Manakamana

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARDS:

Aaron Douglas Johnston – My Sisters’ Quinceanera
Shaka King – Newlyweeds
Madeleine Olnek – The Foxy Merkins

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD

Mud

The 2014 Independent Spirit Awards take place March 1, 2014

Veronica Roth’s upcoming science fiction novel is titled Carve the Mark, and hits store shelves on January 17, 2017.

An official website (complete with a countdown clock!) launched Thursday morning. It reveals the cover (above) and synopsis for Carve the Mark, which will apparently appeal to “fans of Star Wars and Divergent.”

The cover is interesting, as it appears to show cuts made in stone, with something like gold seeping out of the openings. “Honor has no place in survival,” the book’s tagline reads.

Here’s the full synopsis:

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive — no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.

Intriguing! I’m liking the sound of these currentgifts and their influence on this science fiction world.

Previous reports have described Carve the Mark as the first part in a duology, with part 2 getting a release in 2018.

This will be the first book published since Roth wrapped up the Divergent Series. Although Allegiant was released in 2013, a book with short stories about Four arrived the following summer.

You can pre-order Carve the Mark here. Do you think you’ll be reading it?

Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle may have only just crash-landed in a dumpster near you, but we’ve already got information on the second book!

According to his newly upgraded website (hey! us too!), the second book in Rick Riordan’s latest Greek mythology series will be released on May 2, 2017 and is titled The Dark Prophecy. That doesn’t sound ominous at all.

The synopsis reads, “Zeus has punished his son Apollo–god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more–by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered 16-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo/Lester do anything about them without his powers? After experiencing a series of dangerous–and frankly, humiliating–trials at Camp Half-Blood, Lester must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships–with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride.”

Riordan’s fancy new website has a cool feature where, as you scroll the page, the dotted yellow line is replaced by a solid red one, like you’re really seeing yourself exploring the world as you venture through his books. (Accurate.) The Hidden Oracle took place in New York City, but our map tells us Apollo will be venturing into the unknown for the second book. Or has that bit of information just not been set in stone yet? There was something about Indiana…and bananas.

The Trials of Apollo is already off to a fantastic start. Check back later for our review of The Hidden Oracle and other in-depth coverage.

What did you think of ‘The Hidden Oracle’?

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ originally opened with Luke Skywalker’s hand

The space ship giving the finger to the audience wasn't how The Force Awakens was meant to open at all.

8:53 am EDT, May 5, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens made us wait until the very end before they revealed Luke Skywalker. But that wasn’t always the plan, according to Mark Hamill.

The opening shot of The Force Awakens is pretty iconic, and (unintentionally?) hilarious: A giant space ship blocks out our view of a planet, and for a second, J.J. Abrams is almost definitely giving the audience the finger.

Star Wars opening

Perhaps that finger says, “Suck it nerdz, I’m gonna make you sit through this whole film before revealing Luke Skywalker!” Because, as it turns out, we almost saw a bit of him right at the very start of the film.

Mark Hamill, speaking to The Sun (via Collider), has revealed that the original opening shot was a teaser of sorts to the scene at Maz Kanata’s castle, in which Rey finds the lightsaber:

“I can tell you now that in the original opening shot of 7, the first thing that came into frame was a hand with a lightsaber, a severed hand that enters the atmosphere, and then the hand and bone burns away and goes sticking into the surface of Jakku, and this alien hand comes in, don’t know if it was Maz but it was an alien hand who takes the lightsaber way, and then the movie proceeds as you see it.”

So basically we were meant to believe that Luke’s hand fell from the Cloud City tower on Bespin in the Outer Rim Territories (where he battled Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back), into space, and somehow found its way to Jakku?

Gotta say, as cool of an image that would have been, it wouldn’t have made a lot of sense.

It does help to fill in some of the gaps about just how Luke’s original lightsaber came into Maz’s possession, however. How do you think she got her hands (too soon?) on it?

Would you have preferred ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ opening with Luke’s hand and the lightsaber?