2009 Spirit Award Nominations for Independent Film Announced

Nominations for the 24th annual Spirit Awards, which highlight excellence in independent film, were announced on December 2nd. 

Courtney Hunt’s “Frozen River” leads the pack with 7 nominations, followed by Lance Hammer’s “Ballast” with 6. Gus Van Sant’s “Milk” received 5, while Darren Aronofsky’s hotly tipped film “The Wrestler” received 3.

The 2009 Spirit Awards will be telecast live on IFC with an edited re-broadcast on AMC Saturday, February 21st, 2009.

Here’s blogger EditorLisa‘s response to the nominations:

Ballast, 6 nominations – picked up by IFC Films and eventually self-distributed.  Imagine my colleagues there are kicking themselves today, despite having several other films on the list.

Frozen River, 7 nominations – was initally released as a short, which garnered funding for the feature film.  Won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

The Order of Myths, 2 nominations – a really terrrific documentary that was shamefully overlooked by the Oscar nominating committee this year.

MILK, 5 nominations – a beautifully directed and acted film.  I’m glad to see James Franco nominated for his role, and Sean Penn is a shoo-in for Best Actor (here at the Academy Awards).  That is, if he isn’t beaten by…

The Wrestler, 3 nominations – I got teary-eyed just watching the trailer Sunday night.  I’ve been a fan of Darren Aronofsky’s since seeing Requiem for a Dream; this may very well be the film that takes him from respected indie director to make-what-you-want auteur.

Below is the full list of 2009 Spirit Award nominees:

Best Feature

“Ballast”
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

“Afterschool”
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 under $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 Boden and Ryan Fleck, “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
Ensemble Cast: Hope Davis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Tom Noonan, Dianne Wiest, Michelle Williams

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 Jay 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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