"Ballast," an austere drama about a grieving man who forms a bond with a woman and her young son, "Frozen River," a somber tale about the relationship between two poverty-stricken women, and "Rachel Getting Married," an intimate drama about a young woman confronting her demons at her sister's nuptials, dominated the nominations for the2009 Film Independent Spirit Awards today, earning six each.
Besides receiving a nomination for best film, "Ballast," which was also a Sundance award winner, received nominations for best first screenplay and best director for Lance Hammer, best female lead for Tarra Riggs, best supporting male for JimMyron Ross and best cinematography for Lol Crawley.
Jonathan Demme, best first screenplay for Jenny Lumet, best female lead for Anne Hathaway and best supporting female for Rosemarie DeWitt and Debra Winger.
"Frozen River" also earned a best feature nomination along with those for best first screenplay and best director for Courtney Hunt, best female lead for Melissa Leo, best supporting female for Misty Upham and best supporting male for Charlie McDermott.
Rounding out the best picture nominees were "Wendy and Lucy," a road drama about a young woman traveling with her dog, and "The Wrestler," a drama about an aging wrestler trying to make a comeback.
Joining Demme, Hammer and Hunt in the best director category were Ramin Bahrani for "Chop Shop" and Tom McCarthy for "The Visitor."
Nominees for best screenplay were Woody Allen for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck for "Sugar," Charlie Kaufman for "Synecdoche, New York," Howard A. Rodman for "Savage Grace" and Christopher Zalla for "Sangre de Mi Sangre."
Joining Hathaway, Leo and Riggs in the best female lead category were Summer Bishil for "Towelhead" and Michelle Williams for "Wendy and Lucy."
Best male lead nominations went to Javier Bardem for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," Richard Jenkins for "The Visitor," Sean Penn for "Milk," Jeremy Renner for "The Hurt Locker" and Mickey Rourke for "The Wrestler."
Penelope Cruz for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and Rosie Perez for "The Take" rounded out the best supporting female nominations. James Franco for "Milk," Anthony Mackie for "The Hurt Locker" and Haaz Sleiman for "The Visitor" also earned best supporting male nominations.
Best documentary nominations went to "The Betrayal," "Encounters at the End of the World," "Man on Wire," "The Order of Myths" and "Up the Yangtze. "The Class," "Gomorra," "Hunger," Secret of the Grain" and "Silent Light" earned nominations for best foreign film.
Also announced was this year's recipient of the Robert Altman Award, given to one film's director, casting director and ensemble cast: Charlie Kaufman's "Synecdoche, New York."
Film Independent's Spirit Awards is a "celebration honoring films made by filmmakers who embody independence and who dare to challenge the status quo."
All eligible films must be at least 70 minutes long, and the cost of the completed film including post-production must be less than $20 million. The film must have been shown in a commercial theater for at least one week this year or been screened at one of several film festivals, including Film Independent's Los Angeles Film Festival, Sundance and Toronto.
Since their inception in 1985, the Spirit Awards have become one of the hottest tickets in town. Several of the winners have gone on to earn Oscars, including "Juno" scribe Diablo Cody and best actress winners Charlize Theron ("Monster"), Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball") and Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry").
The 2009 Film Independent's Spirit Awards ceremony will take place at the tent on the beach in Santa Monica on Feb. 21. It will air uncut and commercial-free on the Independent Film Channel at 5 p.m. An edited version will air later that evening on AMC.
For a complete list of nominees go to www.filmindependent.org.