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‘Whale’ of a day at Spirits

'Squid,' 'Capote,' 'Brokeback' up for top honors

See Nominees

Samuel Goldwyn Films’ offbeat family drama “The Squid and the Whale” picked up six noms to lead all contenders for the 2006 Independent Spirit Awards.

Pic joins Focus Features’ “Brokeback Mountain,” Sony Pictures Classics’ “Capote,” Warner Independent Pictures’ “Good Night, and Good Luck” and SPC’s “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” in the feature race.

As always, nomination announcements are sure to reignite the debate over what defines an indie film in the age of studio specialty arms, especially given the wide budget range between the films vying for an award. “Squid” cost $1.5 million to make, while “Brokeback” cost between $13 million and $15 million.

In an attempt to clarify the process, Film Independent, which administers the awards, set an official budget ceiling this year of $20 million. Film Independent was formerly IFP/Los Angeles.

Four noms each went to “Brokeback,” “Capote,” “Good Night” and “Three Burials.”

They were followed by “Transamerica,” which is being released in the U.S. by the Weinstein Co., and “Nine Lives,” distribbed by Magnolia Pictures, with three noms apiece.

Among distribs, SPC far outpaced the competish with a combined 12 nominations for “Capote,” “The Beautiful Country,” “Junebug,” “Three Burials” and “Thumbsucker.”

“For us, it’s a real honor. We haven’t tried to become the whole new mini-major package, so it’s great to see these movies recognized,” said SPC co-president Tom Bernard. “It’s a voice that always needs to be encouraged in such a commercial world, and especially in the studio world.”

Magnolia came in second with seven noms while Focus and WIP tied at six with Goldwyn. Lions Gate Films picked up four, including a docu nom for Werner Herzog’s “Grizzly Man,” which didn’t make the Oscar short list.

Winners of the Spirit Awards will be named March 4 — one day before the Oscars — during a live ceremony that will air on the Independent Film Channel. Nominees were selected from more than 200 submissions.

Writer-director Noah Baumbach, who picked up a screenplay nod for “Squid,” shares the directing category with Ang Lee for “Brokeback,” George Clooney for “Good Night,” Gregg Araki for “Mysterious Skin” and Rodrigo Garcia for “Nine Lives.”

“Squid” star Jeff Daniels shares the male lead category with Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Capote”), Terrence Howard (“Hustle & Flow”), Heath Ledger (“Brokeback”) and David Strathairn (“Good Night”).

The female lead category comprises Laura Linney (“Squid”), Felicity Huffman (“Transamerica”), Dina Korzun (“Forty Shades of Blue,” First Look Pictures), S. Epatha Merkerson (“Lackawanna Blues,” HBO Films) and Cyndi Williams (“Room,” no distrib).

“I got a great message from Laura Linney saying, ‘Call me, call me,’ ” Baumbach said. Linney and Mark Ruffalo announced the noms for Film Independent at a breakfast in Beverly Hills.

Films picking up double noms included “Lackawanna Blues,” “Crash,” “Junebug,” “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” “Room” and HDNet Films’ “The War Within.”

Continuing its tradition of recognizing emerging filmmakers and producers, Film Independent also announced noms for the IFC/Acura Someone to Watch Award, the Truer Than Fiction Award and the AMC/American Express Producers Award.

Herzog’s “Grizzly Man” shared the docu category with Alex Gibney’s “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” Scott Dalton and Margarita Martinez’s “La Sierra,” David Zeiger’s “Sir! No Sir!” and Mark Becker’s “Romantico,” which also picked up a Truer Than Fiction nom.

Missing from the docu category was a nom for WIP’s box office hit “March of the Penguins.” WIP did make the foreign film category with “Paradise Now.”

And the nominees are…

FEATURE
“Brokeback Mountain”
“Capote”
“Good Night, and Good Luck”
“The Squid and the Whale”
“The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada”

FIRST FEATURE
“Crash”
“Lackawanna Blues”
“Me and You and Everyone We Know”
“Thumbsucker”
“Transamerica”

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
(feature made for less than $500,000)

“Brick”
“Conventioneers”
“Jellysmoke”
“The Puffy Chair”
“Room”

FEMALE LEAD
Felicity Huffman, “Transamerica”
Dina Korzun, “Forty Shades of Blue”
Laura Linney, “The Squid and the Whale”
S. Epatha Merkerson, “Lackawanna Blues”
Cyndi Williams, “Room”

MALE LEAD
Jeff Daniels, “The Squid and the Whale”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Capote”
Terrence Howard, “Hustle & Flow”
Heath Ledger, “Brokeback Mountain”
David Strathairn, “Good Night, and Good Luck”

SUPPORTING FEMALE
Amy Adams, “Junebug”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Happy Endings”
Allison Janney, “Our Very Own”
Michelle Williams, “Brokeback Mountain”
Robin Wright Penn, “Nine Lives”

SUPPORTING MALE
Firdous Bamji, “The War Within”
Matt Dillon, “Crash”
Jesse Eisenberg, “The Squid and the Whale”
Barry Pepper, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada”
Jeffrey Wright, “Broken Flowers”

DIRECTOR
Ang Lee, “Brokeback Mountain”
George Clooney, “Good Night, and Good Luck”
Gregg Araki, “Mysterious Skin”
Rodrigo Garcia, “Nine Lives”
Noah Baumbach, “The Squid and the Whale”

SCREENPLAY
“Capote,” Dan Futterman
“Nine Lives,” Rodrigo Garcia
“The Squid and the Whale,” Noah Baumbach
“The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” Guillermo Arriaga
“The War Within,” Ayad Akhtar, Joseph Castelo, Tom Glynn

FIRST SCREENPLAY
“The Beautiful Country,” Sabina Murray
“Fixing Frank,” Kenneth Hanes
“Junebug,” Angus Maclachlan
“Me and You and Everyone We Know,” Miranda July
“Transamerica,” Duncan Tucker

CINEMATOGRAPHY
“Capote,” Adam Kimmel
“Good Night, and Good Luck,” Robert Elswit
“Keane,” John Foster
“Last Days,” Harris Savides
“The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” Chris Menges

FOREIGN FILM
“The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” (Romania)
“Duck Season” (Mexico)
“Head-On” (Germany/Turkey)
“Paradise Now” (Palestine/Netherlands/Germany/France)
“Tony Takitani” (Japan)

DOCUMENTARY
“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”
“Grizzly Man”
“La Sierra”
“Romantico”
“Sir! No Sir!”

GRANT NOMINEES

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Ian Gamazon & Neill Dela Llana, “Cavite”
Robinson Devor, “Police Beat”
Jay Duplass, “The Puffy Chair”

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Rachel Boynton, “Our Brand Is Crisis”
Garrett Scott & Ian Olds, “Occupation: Dreamland”
Mark Becker, “Romantico”
Thomas Allen Harris, “Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela”

PRODUCERS AWARD
Caroline Baron, “Capote” & “Monsoon Wedding”
Ram Bergman, “Brick” & “Conversations With Other Women”
Mike S. Ryan, “Junebug” & “Palindromes”

NOMS BY DISTRIB
(including grant nominations)

Sony Pictures Classics, 14
Focus Features, 7
Magnolia Pictures, 7
Samuel Goldwyn Films, 6
Warner Independent Pictures, 6
Lionsgate Films, 4
The Weinstein Co., 3
HBO Films, 2
IFC Films, 2
Roadside Attractions, 2
Strand Releasing, 2
Cinema Libre Studio, 1
First Look, 1
First Run/Icarus Films, 1
MTV Films/Paramount Classics, 1
Picturehouse, 1
Tartan Films USA, 1
TLA Releasing, 1

NO DISTRIBUTOR
“Fixing Frank”
“Jellysmoke”
“Our Very Own”
“Romantico”
“Room”
“Sir! No Sir!”

MULTIPLE NOMINATIONS
(including grant nominations)

“The Squid and the Whale,” 6
“Capote,” 5
“Brokeback Mountain,” 4
“Good Night, and Good Luck,” 4
“The Three Burials of Melquiades…,” 4
“Junebug,” 3
“Nine Lives,” 3
“Transamerica,” 3
“Brick,” 2
“Crash,” 2
“Lackawanna Blues,” 2
“Me and You and Everyone…,” 2
“The Puffy Chair,” 2
“Romantico,” 2
“Room,” 2
“The War Within,” 2

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