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Spirit Award nominations announced

'Precious,' 'Last Station' score the most nods

The Oscars may be supersizing, expanding the best-pic nominations to 10, but the Spirit Awards stuck with the traditional five and on Tuesday planted a pair of disparate dramas atop the noms list.

Lionsgate’s “Precious” and Sony Classics’ “The Last Station” landed five Spirit noms apiece, and will face off against Fox Searchlight’s “500 Days of Summer,” National Geographic’s “Amreeka” and Focus Features’ “Sin Nombre” in the feature film category.

Four out of the five feature nominees premiered at Sundance; “The Last Station” preemed at Telluride.

Matt Dillon and Taraji P. Henson announced the nods Tuesday morning at the Sofitel L.A. Hotel, and winners will be announced March 5, two days before the Oscars. Film Independent has shifted the ceremonies to the downtown L.A. Live venue from the kudos’ traditional beachside site in Santa Monica, and from Saturday afternoon to Friday night.

“Precious,” centered on the life of an abused teen mother, also scored noms for director Lee Daniels, lead actress Gaborey Sidibe, supporting actress Mo’Nique and writer Geoffrey Fletcher for first screenplay.

“The Last Station,” focused on Leo Tolstoy’s marriage, received nods for lead actress Helen Mirren, supporting actor Christopher Plummer and screenwriter-helmer Michael Hoffman, who took noms in both the director and screenplay categories.

“I think it resonated because it’s about the existential problems of love and marriage and how difficult that is — which is something everyone can relate to,” Hoffman told Daily Variety.

Oscilloscope’s “The Messenger” took four noms, including first feature for director Oren Moverman, screenplay for Alessandro Camon and Moverman, supporting actor for Woody Harrelson and supporting actress for Samantha Morton.

Fox Searchlight, Oscilloscope and Sony Classics tied for the most distributor nods, with seven each.

In addition to Daniels and Hoffman, director noms went to Joel and Ethan Coen for “A Serious Man,” Cary Joji Fukunaga for “Sin Nombre” and James Gray for “Two Lovers.”

“Sin Nombre” marks the first narrative feature for Fukunaga, who also won the director prize at Sundance.

Gray found out about his nod while changing his daughter’s diaper and noted that he had not been expecting recognition, as the romancer opened way back in February.

“It was a most unexpected and delightful surprise, partly because I had been dealing with kids who were in a bad mood with lots of yelling and screaming,” he said.

Besides Mirren and Sidibe, female lead nods went to Maria Bello for “Downloading Nancy,” Nisreen Faour for “Amreeka” and Gwyneth Paltrow for “Two Lovers.”

Male lead noms were received by Jeff Bridges for “Crazy Heart,” Colin Firth for “A Single Man,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt for “500 Days of Summer,” Souleymane Sy Savane for “Goodbye Solo” and Adam Scott for “The Vicious Kind.”

“The Last Station” and “The Messenger” will face competition in the screenplay category from Lee Toland Kirkland for “The Vicious Kind,” Greg Mottola for “Adventureland” and Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for “500 Days of Summer.”

“We’re jumping around with joy right now,” Neustadter told Daily Variety. “I think we connected with the voters because our film really did have a singular vision. Everyone wanted to make the same movie.”

“A Serious Man” was announced Tuesday as winner of the Robert Altman Award, given to a director, casting director and ensemble cast.

Paramount’s surprise hit “Paranormal Activity,” which has grossed $107 million domestically from a $15,000 budget, received a nom for best first feature. It will face “A Single Man,” “Crazy Heart,” “Easier with Practice” and “The Messenger.” But the film didn’t get a nod for the John Cassavetes Award, which honors the best feature made for under $500,000. Those noms went to “Big Fan,” “Humpday,” “The New Year’s Parade,” “Treeless Mountain” and “Zero Bridge.”

Summit’s “The Hurt Locker,” which dominated Monday night’s Gotham Awards, wasn’t eligible this year for the Spirit nods. It was submitted last year and earned Spirit nominations for actors Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie.

Film Independent enacted a new rule requiring that films open in a commercial theater for a week to qualify.

(Sharon Swart contributed to this report.)

2010 Spirit Award nominations

BEST FEATURE
“(500) Days Of Summer” – Producers: Mason Novick, Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters, Steven J. Wolfe
“Amreeka” – Producers: Paul Barkin, Christina Piovesan
“Precious” – Producers: Lee Daniels, Gary Magness, Sarah Siegel-Magness
“Sin Nombre” – Producer: Amy Kaufman
“The Last Station” – Producers: Bonnie Arnold, Chris Curling, Jens Meuer

BEST DIRECTOR
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen – “A Serious Man”
Lee Daniels – “Precious”
Cary Joji Fukunaga – “Sin Nombre”
James Gray – “Two Lovers”
Michael Hoffman – “The Last Station”

BEST SCREENPLAY
Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman – “The Messenger”
Michael Hoffman – “The Last Station”
Lee Toland Krieger – “The Vicious Kind”
Greg Mottola – “Adventureland”
Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber – “(500) Days Of Summer”

BEST FIRST FEATURE
“A Single Man” – Director: Tom Ford; Producers: Tom Ford, Andrew Miano, Robert Salerno, Chris Weitz
“Crazy Heart” – Director: Scott Cooper; Producers: T Bone Burnett, Judy Cairo, Rob Carliner, Scott Cooper, Robert Duvall
“Easier With Practice” – Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez; Producer: Cookie Carosella
“Paranormal Activity” – Director: Oren Peli; Producer: Jason Blum, Oren Peli
“The Messenger” – Director: Oren Moverman; Producers: Mark Gordon, Lawrence Inglee, Zach Miller

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Sophie Barthes – “Cold Souls”
Scott Cooper – “Crazy Heart”
Cherien Dabis – “Amreeka”
Geoffrey Fletcher – “Precious”
Tom Ford, David Scearce – “A Single Man”

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000.
“Big Fan” – Writer/Director: Robert Siegel; Producers: Elan Bogarin, Jean Kouremetis
“Humpday” – Writer/Director/Producer: Lynn Shelton
“The New Year Parade” – Writer/Director: Tom Quinn; Producers: Steve Beal, Tom Quinn
“Treeless Mountain” – Writer/Director: So Yong Kim; Producers: Bradley Rust Gray, Ben Howe, So Yong Kim, Lars Knudsen, Jay Van Hoy
“Zero Bridge” – Writer/Director: Tariq Tapa; Producers: Josee Lajoie, Hilal Ahmed Langoo, Tariq Tapa

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Maria Bello – “Downloading Nancy”
Nisreen Faour – “Amreeka”
Helen Mirren – “The Last Station”
Gwyneth Paltrow – “Two Lovers”
Gabourey Sidibe – “Precious”

BEST MALE LEAD
Jeff Bridges – “Crazy Heart”
Colin Firth – “A Single Man”
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – “(500) Days Of Summer”
Souléymane Sy Savané – “Goodbye Solo”
Adam Scott – “The Vicious Kind”

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Dina Korzun – “Cold Souls”
Mo’Nique – “Precious”
Samantha Morton – “The Messenger”
Natalie Press – “Fifty Dead Men Walking”
Mia Wasikowska – “That Evening Sun”

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Jemaine Clement – “Gentlemen Broncos”
Woody Harrelson – “The Messenger”
Christian McKay – “Me and Orson Welles”
Raymond McKinnon – “That Evening Sun”
Christopher Plummer – “The Last Station”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Roger Deakins – “A Serious Man”
Adriano Goldman – “Sin Nombre”
Anne Misawa – “Treeless Mountain”
Andrij Parekh – “Cold Souls”
Peter Zeitlinger – “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“Anvil! The Story of Anvil” – Director: Sacha Gervasi
“Food, Inc.” – Director: Robert Kenner
“More Than A Game” – Director: Kristopher Belman
“October Country” – Directors: Donal Mosher, Michael Palmieri
“Which Way Home” – Director: Rebecca Cammisa

BEST FOREIGN FILM
“A Prophet” – (France) Director: Jacques Audiard
“An Education” – (UK/France) Director: Lone Scherfig
“Everlasting Moments” – (Sweden) Director: Jan Troell
“Mother” – (South Korea) Director: Bong Joon-Ho
“The Maid” – (Chile) Director: Sebastián Silva

ACURA SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Kyle Patrick Alvarez – “Easier With Practice”
Asiel Norton – “Redland”
Tariq Tapa – “Zero Bridge”

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Natalia Almada – “El General”
Jessica Oreck – “Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo”
Bill Ross, Turner Ross – “45365”

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
Karin Chien – “The Exploding Girl,” “Santa Mesa”
Larry Fessenden – “I Sell the Dead,” “The House of the Devil”
Dia Sokol – “Beeswax,” “Nights & Weekends”

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – (Given to one film’s director, casting director, and its ensemble cast)
“A Serious Man”
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Casting Directors: Ellen Chenoweth, Rachel Tenner
Ensemble Cast: Richard Kind, Sari Lennick, Jessica McManus, Fred Melamed, Michael Stuhlbarg, Aaron Wolff

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