If you aren’t familiar with the Independent Spirit Awards then you are really missing out. This award program is run by Film Independent, an organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision. Every year the voting members — of which I am one — choose the best films and performances from the independently produced films of the year. It is currently in its 23rd year and the awards event will take place on February 21, 2009 in Santa Monica.

This afternoon the nominations for the 2009 awards were announced, with films such as Courtney Hunt’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning Frozen River, Jonathan Demme’s critically acclaimed Rachel Getting Married and Darren Aronofsky’s Toronto gem The Wrestler leading the way. Have a look at the full list of nominations below. Click any of the film names below to browse that film’s IMDb page.

BEST FEATURE

Ballast
Frozen River
Rachel Getting Married
Wendy and Lucy
The Wrestler

BEST FIRST FEATURE

Afterschool
Medicine for Melancholy
Sangre De Mi Sangre
Sleep Dealer
Synecdoche, New York

BEST DIRECTOR

Ramin Bahrani - Chop Shop
Jonathan Demme – Rachel Getting Married
Lance Hammer – Ballast
Courtney Hunt – Frozen River
Tom McCarthy - The Visitor

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 FEMALE LEAD

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

BEST SUPPORTING MALE

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

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 SCREENPLAY

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

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Maryse Alberti - The Wrestler
Lol Crawley – Ballast
James Laxton - Medicine for Melancholy
Harris Savides - Milk
Michael Simmonds - Chop Shop

BEST DOCUMENTARY

The Betrayal
Encounters at the End of the World
Man on Wire
The Order of Myths
Up the Yangtze

BEST FOREIGN FILM

The Class (France)
Gomorra (Italy)
Hunger (U.K./Ireland)
Secret of the Grain (France)
Silent Light (Mexico/France/Netherlands/Germany)

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD

(Given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer)

Prince of Broadway (Sean Baker, Darren Dean)
Take Out (Sean Baker, Shih-Ching Tsou)
The Signal (David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry, Alexander Motlagh)
Turn the River (Chris Eigeman, Ami Armstrong)
In Search of a Midnight Kiss (Alex Holdridge, Seth Caplan, Scoot McNairy)

For more on the Independent Spirit Awards and information on how to become a member of Film Independent, visit FilmIndependent.org. For those who really love discovering great independent film and previously unseen talent, it is a great organization to be a part of.


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