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“Descendants,” “The Artist” lead Indie Spirit noms – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: Mornings won’t get much busier than this at Awards Alley. Even when Oscar reveals his annual nominations, he has the decency of being the only game in town. Tuesday, as the New York Film Critics’ Circle (slowly) revealed their selections for the Best of 2011, the Independent Spirit Awards also took over West Hollywood to pull the curtain back on their full slate of nominees. We have them below.

Just this morning, I was writing about how Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” was collecting a series of small victories that could add up to big wins at the Academy Awards. Malick’s thoughtful drama split Best Feature with “Beginners” at the Gotham Independent Film Awards. And Sight & Sound named it the Best Film of 2011 in its annual poll.

“Tree” co-star Jessica Chastain then won Best Supporting Actress for her “Tree” role (in addition to her contributions to “The Help” and “Take Shelter.” And while “Tree” wasn’t eligible for the Spirits, Chastain did get into the race for her “Shelter” performance. Well deserved.

Plenty of other films received a much-needed boost by the Indie Spirit noms. Jonathan Levine’s “50/50,” Nicolas Winding-Refn’s “Drive,” Mike Mills’ “Beginners,” the Wall Street drama “Margin Call,” and “Take Shelter” all worked their way back into the race with strong showings. Expected Oscar contenders “The Descendants” and “The Artist” also scored crucial noms.

Winners will be announced on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, from the beaches of Santa Monica. The premiere broadcast will air later that evening at 10 p.m. ET/PT on IFC.

Here’s the complete list of Independent Spirit Award nominees:

Best Feature
Take Shelter
The Artist
The Descendants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Screenplay
Joseph Cedar, Footnote
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Tom McCarthy, Win Win
Mike Mills, Beginners
Alexander Payne, The Descendants

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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