That’s right folks, Awards season in Hollywood is upon us. The headlines of the day may all be centered on the Writers Guild strike, but those of us who are entrusted with keeping an eye on the films of the year are working behind the headlines, getting ready for the run toward Oscar’s gold. Step one is to take in the nominees for the Independent Spirit Awards, celebrating the best in independent film. Some of these flicks may rise up to take home some recognition in February, but for others this is their biggest stage. On Tuesday, the following nominees were announced at a Film Independent Press Conference by Zach Braff and Lisa Kudrow. I have highlighted my personal picks (not predictions, just my picks) in red. (Thanks to Alex at FirstShowing.net for putting together the list with IMDb links.)

BEST FEATURE
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly [IMDb]
I’m Not There [IMDb]
Juno [IMDb]
A Mighty Heart [IMDb]
Paranoid Park [IMDb]

BEST FIRST FEATURE
2 Days in Paris [IMDb]
Great World of Sound [IMDb]
The Lookout [IMDb]
Rocket Science [IMDb]
Vanaja [IMDb]

BEST DIRECTOR
Todd Haynes – I’m Not There [IMDb]
Tamara Jenkins – The Savages [IMDb]
Jason Reitman – Juno [IMDb]
Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly [IMDb]
Gus Van Sant – Paranoid Park [IMDb]

BEST MALE LEAD
Pedro Castaneda – August Evening [IMDb]
Don Cheadle – Talk To Me [IMDb]
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Savages [IMDb]
Frank Langella – Starting Out in the Evening [IMDb]
Tony Leung – Lust, Caution [IMDb]

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Angelina Jolie – A Mighty Heart [IMDb]
Sienna Miller – Interview [IMDb]
Ellen Page – Juno [IMDb]
Parker Posey – Broken English [IMDb]
Tang Wei – Lust, Caution [IMDb]

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Chiwetel Ejiofor – Talk To Me [IMDb]
Marcus Carl Franklin – I’m Not There [IMDb]
Kene Holliday – Great World of Sound [IMDb]
Irrfan Khan – The Namesake [IMDb]
Steve Zahn – Rescue Dawn [IMDb]

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There [IMDb]
Anna Kendrick – Rocket Science [IMDb]
Jennifer Jason Leigh – Margot at the Wedding [IMDb]
Tamara Podemski – Four Sheets to the Wind [IMDb]
Marisa Tomei – Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead [IMDb]

BEST SCREENPLAY
Ronald Harwood – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly [IMDb]
Tamara Jenkins – The Savages [IMDb]
Fred Parnes & Andrew Wagner – Starting Out in the Evening [IMDb]
Adrienne Shelly – Waitress [IMDb]
Mike White – Year of the Dog [IMDb]

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Jeffrey Blitz – Rocket Science [IMDb]
Zoe Cassavetes – Broken English [IMDb]
Diablo Cody – Juno [IMDb]
Kelly Masterson – Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead [IMDb]
John Orloff – A Mighty Heart [IMDb]

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Mott Hupfel – The Savages [IMDb]
Janusz Kaminski – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly [IMDb]
Milton Kam – Vanaja [IMDb]
Mihai Malaimare, Jr. – Youth Without Youth [IMDb]
Rodrigo Prieto – Lust, Caution [IMDb]

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Crazy Love [IMDb]
Lake of Fire [IMDb]
Manufactured Landscapes [IMDb]
The Monastery [IMDb]
The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair [IMDb]

BEST FOREIGN FILM
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania) [IMDb]
The Band’s Visit (Israel) [IMDb]
Lady Chatterley (France) [IMDb]
Once (Ireland) [IMDb]
Persepolis (France) [IMDb]

Just a few notes: Juno was absolutely one of the best films of the past 5 years — and I have every reason to believe that it will be this year’s Little Miss Sunshine. Ellen Page’s performance is the stand-out of the year so far, as is Don Cheadle’s performance in Talk to Me. In my mind, they should both be clear winners. Also, I just finished watching Once (nominated for Best Foreign Film) and WOW! It was a spectacular harmonious story of love’s journey — set to a brilliant soundtrack. I would definitely be voting for it as well. And thankfully for all of these favorites of mine, I am a voting member of Film Independent. You can be too, just check out the Film Independent website here.


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