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Spirit Award Nominees Announced; The Wrestler Is a Heavyweight Contender

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Those who say independent film is dead are wrong — but those who say it’s no longer independent might be right. Film Independent’s Spirit Award nominees were announced this morning, and Hollywood heavyweights (on both sides of the camera) are among them. Rachel Getting Married, the dysfunctional-family pic directed by Jonathan Demme and starring former Disney darling Anne Hathaway, garnered six nominations, including best picture, while Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) and Sean Penn (Milk) are on the best actor list. (Check out our video interview with Rourke on The Wrestler.)

There are still some under-the-radar movies and artists getting well-deserved attention, including Ballast (about a single mother surviving on the rural Mississippi Delta), from first-time director Lance Hammer, and Frozen River (a border smuggling tale), from newcomer Courtney Hunt; both tied Rachel with six nominations.

The awards ceremony will take place on February 21, and will be broadcast on IFC and later in the evening on AMC.

Here’s a full list of this year’s nominees:

Best Feature

Producers: Lance Hammer, Nina Parikh

Frozen River
Producers: Chip Hourihan, Heather Rae

Rachel Getting Married
Producers: Neda Armian, Jonathan Demme, Marc Platt

Wendy and Lucy
Producers: Larry Fessenden, Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani

The Wrestler
Producers: Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin

Best Director

Ramin Bahrani, Chop Shop
Jonathan Demme, Rachel Getting Married
Lance Hammer, Ballast
Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
Thomas McCarthy, The Visitor

Best First Feature

Director: Antonio Campos
Producers: Sean Durkin, Josh Mond 

Medicine for Melancholy
Director: Barry Jenkins
Producer: Justin Barber

Sangre de Mi Sangre
Director: Christopher Zalla
Producers: Per Melita, Benjamin Odell

Sleep Dealer
Director: Alex Rivera
Producer: Anthony Bregman

Synecdoche, New York
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Producers: Anthony Bregman, Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, Sidney Kimmel

John Cassavetes Award (Given to the best feature made for less than $500,000)

In Search of a Midnight Kiss
Writer/Director: Alex Holdridge
Producers: Seth Caplan and Scoot McNairy

Prince of Broadway
Director: Sean Baker
Writers: Sean Baker, Darren Dean
Producer: Darren Dean

The Signal
Writer/Directors: David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry
Producers: Jacob Gentry and Alexander Motiagh

Take Out
Writer/Directors/Producers: Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou

Turn the River
Writer/Director: Chris Eigeman
Producer: Ami Armstrong

Best First Screenplay

Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Lance Hammer, Ballast
Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
Jonathan Levine, The Wackness
Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married

Best Screenplay

Woody Allen, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Anna Fleck and Ryan Boden, Sugar
Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York
Howard A. Rodman, Savage Grace
Christopher Zalla, Sangre de Mi Sangre

Best Female Lead

Summer Bishil, Towelhead
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Tarra Riggs, Ballast
Michelle Williams, Wendy and Lucy

Best Male Lead

Javier Bardem, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Sean Penn, Milk
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Best Supporting Female

Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married
Rosie Perez, The Take
Misty Upham, Frozen River
Debra Winger, Rachel Getting Married

Best Supporting Male

James Franco, Milk
Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker
Charlie McDermott, Frozen River
JimMyron Ross, Ballast
Haaz Sleiman, The Visitor

Best Cinematography

Maryse Alberti, The Wrestler
Lol Crowley, Ballast
James Laxton, Medicine for Melancholy
Harris Savides, Milk
Michael Simmonds, Chop Shop

Best Documentary

The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
Director: Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath

Encounters at the End of the World
Director: Werner Herzog

Man on Wire
Director: James Marsh

The Order of Myths
Director: Margaret Brown

Up the Yangtze
Director: Yang Chung

Best Foreign Film

The Class (France)
Director: Laurent Cantet

Gomorrah (Italy)
Director: Matteo Garrone

Hunger (UK/Ireland)
Director: Steve McQueen

Secret of the Grain (France)
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche

Silent Light (Mexico/France/Netherlands/Germany)
Director: Carlos Reygadas

Robert Altman Award (Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast)

Synecdoche, New York
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Casting Director: Jeanne McCarthy
Cast: Hope Davis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jennifer Jason Leigh,
Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Tom Noonan, Dianne Wiest, Michelle

Someone to Watch Award

Barry Jenkins, Medicine for Melancholy
Nina Paley, Sita Sings the Blues
Lynn Shelton, My Effortless Brilliance

Truer Than Fiction Award

Margaret Brown, The Order of Myths
Sacha Gervasi, Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Darius Marder, Loot

Producers Award

Lars Knudsen and Joy Van Hoy, Treeless Mountain and I’ll Come Running
Jason Orans, Goodbye Solo and Year of the Fish
Heather Rae, Frozen River and Ibid

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