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‘I’m Not There’ feels the Spirit

Todd Haynes film nabs five nominations

“I’m Not There” squeaked ahead of the pack for this year’s Spirit Award kudos with four nominations plus the inaugural Robert Altman Award.

The rumination on Bob Dylan drew noms for film, director (Todd Haynes), supporting actress (Cate Blanchett) and supporting actor (Marcus Carl Franklin).

Also receiving four mentions each were “Juno,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” and “The Savages.”

Lisa Kudrow and Zach Braff revealed the nominations Tuesday morning at the Sofitel Hotel in West Hollywood. The lighthearted duo set the tone for the noms as darker pics “A Mighty Heart” and “Lust, Caution” trailed with three each. Dramedy “Rocket Science” also landed three.

Noms for best feature are: “I’m Not There,” “Diving Bell,” “Juno,” A Mighty Heart” and Gus Van Sant’s latest, “Paranoid Park” — an IFC pic that debuts next year but screened at Cannes.

With four nominations and two wins, Van Sant has been a Spirit favorite since 1989’s “Drugstore Cowboy.” IFC marketing veep Ryan Werner said the writer-director “exemplifies independent spirit” with his history of personal and experimental filmmaking.

Tamara Jenkins, helmer of “The Savages” and past first feature nominee, is the sole female in the directory category, joining Haynes, Jason Reitman (“Juno”), Julian Schnabel (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”) and Van Sant.

Jenkins said she was thrilled to take on the boys. “I admire (them) very much,” she professed. “I’m honored to be in the company of such great men.”

In the actress category, Angelina Jolie (“A Mighty Heart”) will go against Tang Wei (“Lust, Caution”), Parker Posey (“Broken English”), Sienna Miller (“Interview”) and Ellen Page (“Juno”).

Vying for the actor nod are Philip Seymour Hoffman (“The Savages”), Pedro Castaneda (“August Evening”) Don Cheadle (“Talk to Me”), Frank Langella (“Starting Out in the Evening”) and Tony Leung (“Lust, Caution”).

New this year is the Robert Altman Award, shared by the eight-member “I’m Not There” ensemble (including Blanchett, Christian Bale and Heath Ledger) as well as director Haynes and casting director Laura Rosenthal. Altman was a perennial Spirit nominee and winner for 1984’s “Short Cuts.”

Writer-director Zoe Cassavetes is up for first screenplay for “Broken English.” Contenders for the John Cassavetes Award, which was named for her father and honors films made for less than $500,000, are “August Evening,” “Owl and the Sparrow,” “The Pool,” “Quiet City” or “Shotgun Stories.”

Scribes competing for screenplay honors include Ronald Harwood (“Diving Bell”), Jenkins, Fred Parnes & Andrew Wagner (“Starting Out in the Evening”), the late Adrienne Shelly for “Waitress” and Mike White for “Year of the Dog.”

Fox Searchlight was the clear winner of the day with 11 mentions, thanks mostly to its dysfunctional-family pics “Juno” and “The Savages.” Paramount Vantage, Miramax, Focus Features and the Weinstein Co. trail with five bids each.

Missing this year is a breakout commercial success like 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine.” Of the best feature contenders, “A Mighty Heart” has made the most coin, with a $9 million domestic take. Among the entire nominee pool, Fox Searchlight’s “Waitress” is the B.O. leader with $19 million.

Kathleen Kennedy, producer of “Diving Bell” and foreign language nom “Persepolis,” hopes Tuesday’s announcement goes a long way for her indies, especially with “Diving Bell” bowing Friday. With movies like “Diving Bell,” she said, “You worry if people are going to show up or not. … Nominations like this help generate some kind of awareness.” Kennedy also noted that the Spirit Awards are imperative if smaller movies are to distinguish themselves from the crowd, especially as Oscar buzz builds.

Jenkins echoed this sentiment, saying the nominations could make audiences give indies like “The Savages” a second look. “They provide visibility for smaller movies,” she said.

Film Independent will host the awards — which have gone green this year — one day before the Oscars, on Feb. 23, in a tent on the Santa Monica beach. A telecast will air on the Independent Film Channel live (and uncensored) at 2 p.m. PT.

And the 2008 Spirit nominees are…

FEATURE (Award given to the producer)
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” – Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Jon Kilik
“I’m Not There” – Producers: Christine Vachon, John Sloss, John Goldwyn, James D. Stern
“Juno” – Producers: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Mason Novick, Russell Smith
“A Mighty Heart” – Producers: Dede Gardner, Andrew Eaton, Brad Pitt
“Paranoid Park” – Producers: Neil Kopp, David Cress

FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
“2 Days in Paris” – Director: Julie Delpy; Producers: Julie Delpy, Christophe Mazodier, Thierry Potok
“Great World of Sound” – Director: Craig Zobel; Producers: Melissa Palmer, David Gordon Green, Richard Wright, Craig Zobel
“The Lookout” – Director: Scott Frank; Producers: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Laurence Mark, Walter Parkes
“Rocket Science” – Director: Jeffrey Blitz; Producers: Effie T. Brown, Sean Welch
“Vanaja” – Director: Rajnesh Domalpalli; Producer: Latha R. Domalapalli

DIRECTOR
Todd Haynes – “I’m Not There”
Tamara Jenkins – “The Savages”
Jason Reitman – “Juno”
Julian Schnabel – “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
Gus Van Sant – “Paranoid Park”

MALE LEAD
Pedro Castaneda – “August Evening”
Don Cheadle – “Talk To Me”
Philip Seymour Hoffman – “The Savages”
Frank Langella – “Starting Out in the Evening”
Tony Leung – “Lust, Caution”

FEMALE LEAD
Angelina Jolie – “A Mighty Heart”
Sienna Miller – “Interview”
Ellen Page – “Juno”
Parker Posey – “Broken English”
Tang Wei – “Lust, Caution”

SUPPORTING MALE
Chiwetel Ejiofor – “Talk To Me”
Marcus Carl Franklin – “I’m Not There”
Kene Holliday – “Great World of Sound”
Irrfan Khan – “The Namesake”
Steve Zahn – “Rescue Dawn”

SUPPORTING FEMALE
Cate Blanchett – “I’m Not There”
Anna Kendrick – “Rocket Science”
Jennifer Jason Leigh – “Margot at the Wedding”
Tamara Podemski – “Four Sheets to the Wind”
Marisa Tomei – “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”

SCREENPLAY
Ronald Harwood – “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
Tamara Jenkins – “The Savages”
Fred Parnes & Andrew Wagner – “Starting Out in the Evening”
Adrienne Shelly – “Waitress”
Mike White – “Year of the Dog”

FIRST SCREENPLAY
Jeffrey Blitz – “Rocket Science”
Zoe Cassavetes – “Broken English”
Diablo Cody – “Juno”
Kelly Masterson – “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”
John Orloff – “A Mighty Heart”

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Mott Hupfel – “The Savages”
Janusz Kaminski – “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
Milton Kam – “Vanaja”
Mihai Malaimare, Jr. – “Youth Without Youth”
Rodrigo Prieto – “Lust, Caution”

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (Given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer)
“August Evening” – Writer/Director: Chris Eska; Producers: Connie Hill, Jason Wehling
“Owl and the Sparrow” – Writer/Director: Stephane Gauger; Producers: Nguyen Van Quan, Doan Nhat Nam, Stephane Gauger
“The Pool” – Director: Chris Smith; Producer: Kate Noble; Writer: Chris Smith & Randy Russell
“Quiet City” – Director: Aaron Katz; Producers: Brendan McFadden, Ben Stambler
“Shotgun Stories” – Writer/Director: Jeff Nichols; Producers: David Gordon Green, Lisa Muskat, Jeff Nichols

DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director)
“Crazy Love” – Director: Dan Klores
“Lake of Fire” – Director: Tony Kaye
“Manufactured Landscapes” – Director: Jennifer Baichwal
“The Monastery” – Director: Pernille Rose Grønkjær
“The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair” – Directors: Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
“I’m Not There”
Director: Todd Haynes; Casting Director: Laura Rosenthal; Ensemble Cast: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Bruce Greenwood, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Ben Whishaw

IFC/ACURA SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Ramin Bahrani, director of “Chop Shop”
Ronnie Bronstein, director of “Frownland”
Lee Isaac Chung, director of “Munyurangabo”

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Laura Dunn for “The Unforeseen”
Gary Hustwit for “Helvetica”
John Maringouin for “Running Stumbled”

PRODUCERS AWARD
Anne Clements, producer of “Ping Pong Playa” and “Quinceañera”
Alexis Ferris, producer of “Cthulhu” and “Police Beat”
Neil Kopp, producer of “Paranoid Park” and “Old Joy”

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