Take Shelter, The Artist Lead Spirit Awards Nominations

Today, nominations for the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards were announced. At last year’s ceremony, winners included The King’s Speech (for Best Foreign Film) and Natalie Portman (for Best Female Lead), both which would go on to win Oscars. This year’s line-up of films includes a diverse array of nominees, including the apocalyptic thriller Take Shelter, the silent era homage The Artist, and Alexander Payne’s first film since 2004, The Descendants.

The 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards will take place on Saturday, February 25, and will be broadcast later that evening on IFC.

The Nominees:

Best Film
Take Shelter
The Artist
The Descendants

Best Director
Mike Mills (Beginners)
Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive)
Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter)
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Alexander Payne (The Descendants)

Best International Film
A Separation
The Kid With a Bike

Robert Altman Award for one film’s director, casting director and ensemble: Margin Call

Best Male Lead
Demian Bichir (A Better Life)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Ryan Gosling (Drive)
Woody Harrelson (Rampart)
Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)

Best Female Lead
Lauren Ambrose (Think of Me)
Rachel Harris (Natural Selection)
Adepero Oduye (Pariah)
Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)

Best Supporting Male
Albert Brooks (Drive)
John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
John C. Reilly (Cedar Rapids)
Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris)

Best Supporting Female
Jessica Chastain (Take Shelter)
Angelica Huston (50/50)
Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
Harmony Santana (Gun Hill Road)
Shaileen Woodley (The Descendants)

Best Documentary
An African Selection
Bill Cunningham New York
The Interrupters
The Redemption of General Butt Naked,
We Were Here

Best Screenplay
Joseph Cedar (Footnote)
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Tom McCarthy (Win Win)
Mike Mills (Beginners)
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash (The Descendants)

Best First Screenplay
Mike Cahill & Brit Marling (Another Earth)
J.C. Chandor (Margin Call)
Patrick DeWitt (Terri)
Phil Johnston (Cedar Rapids)
Will Reiser (50/50)

Best Cinematography
Joel Hodge (Bellflower)
Benjamin Kuh-Sulk (The Off Hours)
Darius Kond-Jee (Midnight in Paris)
Gui-omme Shiffman (The Artist)
Jeffrey Waldron (The Dynamiter)

John Cassavetes Award (films made for under $500,000)
Hello Lonesome
The Dynamiter

Best First Feature
Another Earth
In The Family
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Natural Selection

Someone to Watch Award:
Simon Arthur (Silver Tongues)
Mark Jackson (Without)
Nicholas Ozeki (Mamitas)

Piaget Producers Award:
Chad Burris (Mosquita y Mari)
Sophia Lin (Take Shelter)
Josh Mond (Martha Marcy May Marlene)

Truer than Fiction Award:
Heather Courtney (Where Soldiers Come From)
Danfung Dennis (Hell and Back Again)
Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach)

Bonus Commentary: Just looking over some of the categories, the biggest attention-getter is that neither George Clooney nor Michael Fassbender were among the nominees for Best Actor. The Descendants is up for most of the major awards, including picture, director, and writing, but the film doesn’t work without George Clooney’s portrayal of a grieving father dealing with the responsibility of raising two girls on his own. As for Michael Fassbender, in Steve McQueen’s Dante’s Inferno-inspired Shame involving a compulsive sex addict, he goes to some dark places, and provides one of the strongest performances of 2011.

While The Descendants and The Artist are building quite a following for major awards consideration, I’m glad to see people are paying attention to films like Martha Marcy May Marlene and Take Shelter, two of the best psychological dramas of the year.

In terms of acting nominations, the surprise was seeing Albert Nobbs‘ lone acting nomination go to Janet McTeer and not Glenn Close. Midnight in Paris scene-stealer Corey Stall as Ernest Hemmingway was another good pick for supporting.

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