The 2007 award season has officially begun with the announcement this morning of the nominees for Film Independent's Spirit Awards. Honoring the year's best in indie cinema, the awards may not directly influence the Oscars overall, but they can give a boost to potential contenders in the big race.
Best Feature nominees The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, I'm Not There and Juno lead the field with four nominations each (along with The Savages, which was not nominated for the top prize). It was also announced that I'm Not There already scored a trophy, the group's first Robert Altman Award, which will be presented to directing nominee Todd Haynes and his ensemble cast, including supporting nominees Cate Blanchett and Marcus Carl Franklin. Rounding out the top five is A Mighty Heart and Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park, leaving strong contenders Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and Lust, Caution out in the cold. (At least they got some love in other categories; other notable indies such as Away from Her (too Canadian), Into the Wild (too expensive) and Lars and the Real Girl got zip.)
Heart's Angelina Jolie and Juno's Ellen Page are the frontrunners for Best Actress, but The Savages' Laura Linney, Waitress' Keri Russell and Margot at the Wedding's Nicole Kidman were surprisingly left out, as was Rescue Dawn's Christian Bale for Best Actor; Don Cheadle in Talk to Me and Frank Langella in Starting Out in the Evening lead that category. Additionally, Film Independent apparently has no problem with all the English in The Band's Visit; it is competing in the Foreign Film category, alongside Once and Perseopolis.
The Spirit Awards will be presented February 23 (the night before the Oscars) and broadcast live on the Independent Film Channel. See the comments section below for a quick look at the full list of nominations.
Links via FilmIndependent.org and IFC.com.