Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead
Presented byIndependent Spirit Awards
First awardedGeraldine Page
The Trip to Bountiful (1986)
Last awardedTaylour Paige
Zola (2021)

The Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead was one of the annual Independent Spirit Awards to honor an actress who has delivered an outstanding lead performance in an independent film. It was first presented in 1985 with Geraldine Page being the first recipient of the award for her role as Carrie Watts in The Trip to Bountiful. It was last presented in 2022 with Taylour Paige being the final recipient of the award for her role in Zola.

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]

With two wins, Frances McDormand and Julianne Moore are the most awarded females in this category, while with 4 nominations Michelle Williams is the most nominated female in this category.

Winners and nominees

Geraldine Page won for The Trip to Bountiful.
Isabella Rossellini won for Blue Velvet.
Sally Kirkland won for Anna.
Jodie Foster won for Five Corners.
Anjelica Huston won for The Grifters.
Judy Davis won for Impromptu.
Elisabeth Shue won for Leaving Las Vegas.
Frances McDormand has won the award twice, for Fargo (1996) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017).
Julie Christie won for Afterglow.
Ellen Burstyn won for Requiem for a Dream.
Sissy Spacek won for In the Bedroom.
Julianne Moore has won the award twice, for Far from Heaven (2002) and Still Alice (2014).
Charlize Theron won for Monster.
Melissa Leo won for Frozen River.
Gabourey Sidibe won for Precious.
Natalie Portman won for Black Swan.
Michelle Williams won for My Week with Marilyn.
Jennifer Lawrence won for Silver Linings Playbook.
Cate Blanchett won for Blue Jasmine.
Brie Larson won for Room.
Isabelle Huppert won for Elle.
Glenn Close won for The Wife.
Taylour Paige was the final recipient for Zola.


Year Actress Film Role
Geraldine Page The Trip to Bountiful Carrie Watts
Rosanna Arquette After Hours Marcy Franklin
Laura Dern Smooth Talk Connie Wyatt
Lori Singer Trouble in Mind Georgia
1986 Isabella Rossellini Blue Velvet Dorothy Vallens
Elpidia Carrillo Salvador María
Patricia Charbonneau Desert Hearts Cay Rivvers
Laura Dern Blue Velvet Sandy Williams
Tracy Camilla Johns She's Gotta Have It Nola Darling
1987 Sally Kirkland Anna Anna
Lillian Gish The Whales of August Sarah Webber
Debra Sandlund Tough Guys Don't Dance Patty Lareine
Louise Smith Working Girls Molly
Joanne Woodward The Glass Menagerie Amanda Wingfield
1988 Jodie Foster Five Corners Linda
Ricki Lake Hairspray Tracy Turnblad
Nobu McCarthy The Wash Masi Matsumoto
Julia Roberts Mystic Pizza Daisy Arujo
Meg Ryan Promised Land Bev Sykes
1989 Andie MacDowell Sex, Lies, and Videotape Ann Bishop Mullany
Youki Kudoh Mystery Train Mitsuko
Kelly Lynch Drugstore Cowboy Dianne
Winona Ryder Heathers Veronica Sawyer
Annabella Sciorra True Love Donna


Year Actress Film Role
1990 Anjelica Huston The Grifters Lilly Dillon
Mary Alice To Sleep with Anger Suzie
Eszter Balint Bail Jumper Elaine
Carolyn Farina Metropolitan Audrey Rouget
Joanne Woodward Mr. & Mrs. Bridge India Bridge
1991 Judy Davis Impromptu George Sand / Aurora
Patsy Kensit Twenty-One Katie
Mimi Rogers The Rapture Sharon
Lili Taylor Bright Angel Lucy
Lily Tomlin The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe Various Characters
1992 Fairuza Balk Gas Food Lodging Shade
Edie Falco Laws of Gravity Denise
Catherine Keener Johnny Suede Yvonne
Sheryl Lee Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me Laura Palmer
Cynda Williams One False Move Lila "Fantasia" Walker
1993 Ashley Judd Ruby in Paradise Ruby Lee Gissing
Suzy Amis Cameron The Ballad of Little Jo Josephine "Jo" Monaghan
May Chin The Wedding Banquet Wei-Wei
Ariyan A. Johnson Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. Chantel Mitchell
Emma Thompson Much Ado About Nothing Beatrice
1994 Linda Fiorentino The Last Seduction Bridget Gregory / Wendy Kroy
Jennifer Jason Leigh Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle Dorothy Parker
Karen Sillas What Happened Was... Jackie Marsh
Lauren Vélez I Like It Like That Lisette Linares
Jacklyn Wu Eat Drink Man Woman Jia-Chien
1995 Elisabeth Shue Leaving Las Vegas Sera
Jennifer Jason Leigh Georgia Sadie Flood
Elina Löwensohn Nadja Nadja
Julianne Moore Safe Carol White
Lili Taylor The Addiction Kathleen Conklin
1996 Frances McDormand Fargo Marge Gunderson
María Conchita Alonso Caught Betty
Scarlett Johansson Manny & Lo Manny
Catherine Keener Walking and Talking Amelia
Renée Zellweger The Whole Wide World Novalyne Price
1997 Julie Christie Afterglow Phyllis Mann
Stacy Edwards In the Company of Men Christine
Alison Folland All Over Me Claude
Lisa Harrow Sunday Madeleine Vesey
Robin Wright Loved Hedda Amerson
1998 Ally Sheedy High Art Lucy Berliner
Katrin Cartlidge Claire Dolan Claire Dolan
Christina Ricci The Opposite of Sex Dede Truitt
Robin Tunney Niagara, Niagara Marcy
Alfre Woodard Down in the Delta Loretta Sinclair
1999 Hilary Swank Boys Don't Cry Brandon Teena
Diane Lane A Walk on the Moon Pearl Kantrowitz
Janet McTeer Tumbleweeds Mary Jo Walker
Susan Traylor Valerie Flake Valerie Flake
Reese Witherspoon Election Tracy Flick


Year Actress Film Role
Ellen Burstyn Requiem for a Dream Sara Goldfarb
Joan Allen The Contender Laine Hanson
Sanaa Lathan Love & Basketball Monica Wright
Laura Linney You Can Count on Me Samantha "Sammy" Prescott
Kelly Macdonald Two Family House Mary O'Neary
Sissy Spacek In the Bedroom Ruth Fowler
Kim Dickens Things Behind the Sun Sherry
Molly Parker The Center of the World Florence
Tilda Swinton The Deep End Margaret Hall
Kerry Washington Lift Niecy
Julianne Moore Far from Heaven Cathy Whitaker
Jennifer Aniston The Good Girl Justine Last
Maggie Gyllenhaal Secretary Lee Holloway
Catherine Keener Lovely & Amazing Michelle Marks
Parker Posey Personal Velocity Greta Herskowitz
Charlize Theron Monster Aileen Wuornos
Agnes Bruckner Blue Car Megan Denning
Zooey Deschanel All the Real Girls Noel
Samantha Morton In America Sarah
Elisabeth Moss Virgin Jessie Reynolds
Catalina Sandino Moreno Maria Full of Grace María Álvarez
Kimberly Elise Woman Thou Art Loosed Michelle Jordan
Vera Farmiga Down to the Bone Irene Morrison
Judy Marte On the Outs Oz
Kyra Sedgwick Cavedweller Delia Byrd
Felicity Huffman Transamerica Bree
Dina Korzun Forty Shades of Blue Laura
Laura Linney The Squid and the Whale Joan Berkman
S. Epatha Merkerson Lackawanna Blues Rachel "Nanny" Crosby
Cyndi Williams Room Julia Barker
Shareeka Epps Half Nelson Drey
Catherine O'Hara For Your Consideration Marilyn Hack
Elizabeth Reaser Sweet Land Young Inge
Michelle Williams Land of Plenty Lana
Robin Wright Sorry, Haters Phoebe Torrence
Elliot Page Juno Juno MacGuff
Angelina Jolie A Mighty Heart Mariane Pearl
Sienna Miller Interview Katya
Parker Posey Broken English Nora Wilder
Tang Wei Lust, Caution Wong Chia Chi / Mak Tai Tai
Melissa Leo Frozen River Ray Eddy
Summer Bishil Towelhead Jasira Maroun
Anne Hathaway Rachel Getting Married Kym Buchman
Tarra Riggs Ballast Marlee
Michelle Williams Wendy and Lucy Wendy Carroll
Gabourey Sidibe Precious Claireece "Precious" Jones
Maria Bello Downloading Nancy Nancy Stockwell
Nisreen Faour Amreeka Muna Farah
Helen Mirren The Last Station Sophia Tolstaya
Gwyneth Paltrow Two Lovers Michelle Rausch


Year Actress Film Role
Natalie Portman Black Swan Nina Sayers
Annette Bening The Kids Are All Right Nicole "Nic" Allgood
Greta Gerwig Greenberg Florence Marr
Nicole Kidman Rabbit Hole Becca Corbett
Jennifer Lawrence Winter's Bone Ree Dolly
Michelle Williams Blue Valentine Cindy Heller
Michelle Williams My Week with Marilyn Marilyn Monroe
Lauren Ambrose About Sunny Angela
Rachael Harris Natural Selection Linda White
Adepero Oduye Pariah Alike
Elizabeth Olsen Martha Marcy May Marlene Martha
Jennifer Lawrence Silver Linings Playbook Tiffany Maxwell
Linda Cardellini Return Kelli
Emayatzy Corinealdi Middle of Nowhere Ruby
Quvenzhané Wallis Beasts of the Southern Wild Hushpuppy
Mary Elizabeth Winstead Smashed Kate Hannah
Cate Blanchett Blue Jasmine Jeanette "Jasmine" Francis
Julie Delpy Before Midnight Céline Wallace
Gaby Hoffmann Crystal Fairy Crystal Fairy
Brie Larson Short Term 12 Grace Howard
Shailene Woodley The Spectacular Now Aimee Finecky
Julianne Moore Still Alice Dr. Alice Howland
Marion Cotillard The Immigrant Ewa Cybulska
Rinko Kikuchi Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter Kumiko
Jenny Slate Obvious Child Donna Stern
Tilda Swinton Only Lovers Left Alive Eve
Brie Larson Room Joy "Ma" Newsome
Cate Blanchett Carol Carol Aird
Rooney Mara Therese Belivet
Bel Powley The Diary of a Teenage Girl Minnie Goetze
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez Tangerine Sin-Dee Rella
Isabelle Huppert Elle Michèle Leblanc
Annette Bening 20th Century Women Dorothea Fields
Sasha Lane American Honey Star
Ruth Negga Loving Mildred Loving
Natalie Portman Jackie Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Frances McDormand Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Mildred Hayes
Salma Hayek Beatriz at Dinner Beatriz
Margot Robbie I, Tonya Tonya Harding
Saoirse Ronan Lady Bird Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson
Shinobu Terajima Oh Lucy! Setsuko Kawashima / Lucy
Regina Williams Life and Nothing More Regina
Glenn Close The Wife Joan Castleman
Toni Collette Hereditary Annie Graham
Elsie Fisher Eighth Grade Kayla Day
Regina Hall Support the Girls Lisa Conroy
Helena Howard Madeline's Madeline Madeline
Carey Mulligan Wildlife Jeanette Brinson
Renée Zellweger Judy Judy Garland
Karen Allen Colewell Nora Pancowski
Hong Chau Driveways Kathy
Elisabeth Moss Her Smell Becky Something
Mary Kay Place Diane Diane
Alfre Woodard Clemency Warden Bernadine Williams


Year Actress Film Role
Carey Mulligan Promising Young Woman Cassandra "Cassie" Thomas
Nicole Beharie Miss Juneteenth Turquoise Jones
Viola Davis Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Gertrude "Ma" Rainey
Sidney Flanigan Never Rarely Sometimes Always Autumn Callahan
Julia Garner The Assistant Jane
Frances McDormand Nomadland Fern
Taylour Paige Zola Aziah "Zola" King
Isabelle Fuhrman The Novice Alex Dall
Brittany S. Hall Test Pattern Renesha
Patti Harrison Together Together Anna Caper
Kali Reis Catch the Fair One Kaylee

Multiple nominees

Multiple winners

2 wins

See also


  1. ^ Chapman, Wilson (August 23, 2022). "Spirit Awards to Implement Gender Neutral Acting Categories". Variety. Retrieved September 9, 2022.
  2. ^ "34 Years of Nominees and Winners" (PDF). Film Independent Spirit Awards. 2019. Retrieved February 26, 2024.
  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.