The Film Independent Spirit Awards are very close to my heart, as they're essentially the Oscars for indies, and often foretell some of those awards as well. Last year many of the films which were nominated for (and eventually won) Spirit Awards went on to dominate many Academy Awards categories.

The Film Independent Spirit Awards 25th Anniversary ceremony will take place in a tent on the panoramic event deck of LA Live in downtown Los Angeles and will air uncut, uncensored, and commercial-free on IFC (Independent Film Channel) at 8:00 PM PST/11:00 PM EST on Friday, March 5, 2010. In previous years, the event was held outdoors in the afternoon. This year it's been moved to a later time. "We wanted to do something very special and different for the 25th Anniversary by holding the only late-night awards show, where our audience can tune-in live at 11:00 pm on the East Coast," said Film Independent's Executive Director Dawn Hudson. "Our new venue will still have the laid-back, no-holds-barred atmosphere that only the independent film community can create."

Film Independent is an open enrollment and non-profit membership organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds the audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Anyone passionate about film can become a member, whether you are a filmmaker, film industry leader, or a film lover. In the interest of full disclosure, although I am a member of Film Independent, I dd not participate in the nomination process. I will, however, be voting for the winners.

The nominations were announced this morning by Matt Dillon and Taraji P. Henson at the Sofitel Hotel. Taking top honors were Lionsgate's Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire and Sony Classics' The Last Station with five nominations each. Top distributors, each with seven nominations, were Fox Searchlight, Oscilloscope and Sony Classics.

I was especially happy to see some of my favorites on the list. A Single Man was one of my Top Picks from the Toronto International Film Festival (see my review). The film picked up three nominations: Best First Feature (given to director Tom Ford and producers Tom Ford, Andrew Miano, Robert Salerno, and Chris Weitz), Best First Screenplay (Tom Ford and David Scearce), and to Colin Firth for Best Male Lead. Producer Weitz is also in the spotlight at the moment for having directed the record-shattering The Twilight Saga: New Moon. The Vicious Kind was one of my Top Picks from the Sundance Film Festival. It picked up two nominations: Lee Toland Krieger for Best Screenplay and Adam Scott for Best Male Lead.

Of particular interest to my readers are two more films which premiered at Sundance: the Kristen Stewart-starrer Adventureland, nominated for Best Screenplay (Greg Mottola), and (500) Days of Summer. That film picked up three nominations: Best Feature (given to producers Mason Novick, Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters, and Steven J. Wolfe), Best Screenplay (Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber), and to the often-overlooked Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Best Male Lead. Other nominated films I saw at festivals in the past year include Humpday, Zero Bridge, 45365, Me and Orson Welles, Fifty Dead Men Walking, and I Sell the Dead.

Here are the nominees:

BEST FEATURE (Award given to the Producer):

?(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


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 FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer):

?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


(Given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer)
?Big Fan? Writer/Director: Robert Siegel; Producers: Elan Bogarin, Jean Kouremetis
?Humpday? Writer/Director/Producer: Lynn Sheldon
?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


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?


Sophie Barthes, ?Cold Souls?
Scott Cooper, ?Crazy Heart?
Cherien Dabis, ?Amreeka?
Geoffrey Fletcher, ?Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire?
Tom Ford, David Scearce, ?A Single Man?


Maria Bello, ?Downloading Nancy?
Helen Mirren, ?The Last Station?
Gwyneth Paltrow, ?Two Lovers?
Gabourey Sidibe, ?Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire?
Nisreen Faour, ?Amreeka?


Jeff Bridges, ?Crazy Heart?
Colin Firth, ?A Single Man?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, ?(500) Days Of Summer?
Soul?ymane Sy Savan?, ?Goodbye Solo?
Adam Scott, ?The Vicious Kind?


Dina Korzun, ?Cold Souls?
Mo?Nique, ?Precious?
Samantha Morton, ?The Messenger?
Natalie Press, ?Fifty Dead Men Walking?
Mia Wasikowska, ?That Evening Sun?


Jemaine Clement, ?Gentleman Broncos?
Woody Harrelson, ?The Messenger?
Christian McKay, ?Me and Orson Welles?
Raymond McKinnon, ?That Evening Sun?
Christopher Plummer, ?The Last Station?


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 (Award given to the director):

?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 (Award given to the director):

?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: Sebastian Silva

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
Cast: Richard Kind, Sari Lennick, Jessica McManus, Michael Stuhlbarg, Aaron Wolff


Karin Chien, ?The Exploding Girl,? ?Santa Mesa?
Larry Fessenden, ?I Sell the Dead,? ?The House of the Devil?
Dia Sokol, ?Beeswax,? ?Nights & Weekends?


Kyle Patrick Alvarez, ?Easier With Practice?
Asiel Norton, ?Redland?
Tariq Tapa, ?Zero Bridge?


Natalia Almada, ?El General?
Jessica Oreck, ?Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo?
Bill Ross, Turner Ross, ?45365?


Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at

Comments (1)

  • Loretta Reply

    I think you forgot one of the greatest writers/directors...Blayne Weaver...his movie "weathergirl" is awesome, how did he get missed??

    December 01, 2009 at 1:33 pm

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