Spirit Award Nominations Are All About ‘Take Shelter’ and ‘The Artist’

Tim Grierson
The Projector
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The most valuable part of the Film Independent Spirit Award nominations is that it helps crystallize what "indie" films "everybody" loves. We put those two words in quotes because, really, what exactly in an "indie" film anymore -- and who's this "everybody," anyway? Nonetheless, the Spirit Award nods serve the useful purpose of highlighting the five or six indie films that have the best chance of making a concerted push deep into Academy Award season. Of today's top nominees, "Take Shelter" and "The Artist," that's helpful in very different ways. For "Take Shelter," it helps build a little momentum for a small, great film that had seemingly been forgotten. As for "The Artist," it's just more ammo for a campaign that's seemingly firing on all cylinders.

The two movies each collected five nominations, including Best Feature. They will be squaring off against "Beginners," "The Descendants," "Drive" and "50/50." Other than "50/50," all those films have been part of the Oscar conversation, although not all of them are seen to be Best Picture possibilities.

The biggest absence in the Best Feature category would appear to be "Martha Marcy May Marlene," but because it's director Sean Durkin's first feature, it's relegated to the Best First Feature category, where it'll be taking on "Another Earth," "In the Family," "Margin Call" and "Natural Selection." Still, the dark drama managed to snag four Spirit Award nods, including Best Female Lead (for Elizabeth Olsen) and Best Supporting Male (for John Hawkes). The other movies to grab four nominations were "Beginners," "Drive," and "The Descendants." If you saw only a few indie films this year, there's a very good chance you saw these movies: They're the most popular and well-liked indies of the year. (Most obvious indie missing entirely from the Spirit Award nominations: "The Tree of Life." Again, what counts and what doesn't as an "indie" these days completely confuses us.)

Anything else of note? Just this: We're glad the Spirit Awards finally changed the name of their Best Foreign Film category to Best International Film. The way they do their awards, this prize goes to a film financed overseas, but not necessarily one in a foreign language. (Last year's award went to "The King's Speech.") This year, three of the five nominees are in English -- and one of them, "Shame," actually takes place in New York. Like we said, these indie designations are very complicated.

2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominations (partial list)

Best Feature
"The Artist"
"The Descendants"
"Take Shelter"

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Mike Mills, "Beginners"
Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter"
Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"
Nicolas Winding Refn, "Drive"

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"
Rachael 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"
Anjelica Huston, "50/50"
Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"
Harmony Santana, "Gun Hill Road"
Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants"

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 Cinematography
Joel Hodge, "Bellflower"
Benjamin Kasulke, "The Off Hours"
Darius Khondji, "Midnight in Paris"
Guillaume Schiffman, "The Artist"
Jeffrey Waldron, "The Dynamiter"

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

Best International Film
"A Separation"
"The Kid With a Bike"

'The Artist,' 'Take Shelter' Dominate Indie Spirit Award Nominations
[The Hollywood Reporter]