>2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards nominees

>We’ve got spirit, yes we do. We’ve got spirit, how about you?

The nominations for the 2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards have been announced and Quickflix favourite Winter’s Bone has racked up an incredible seven nominations! It’s a promising sign after the film took out the Best Feature prize at the 2010 Gotham Independent Film Awards – the first major ceremony of the awards season. It’s the little indie that could and with the Oscars approaching fast, all eyes will be watching how it performs when the Spirit winners are announced.

The Film Independent Spirit Awards recognises films with an indie spirit produced for under $20 million; a hard sell in today’s environment of action blockbusters and CG extravaganzas. It’s a brilliant award that lets the smaller, and more often than not, better films get the recognition they deserve.

Though it’s not set in stone, when a film garners wins, or even nominations, at one of the earlier awards ceremonies, it can help them in their Oscar campaign. There will always be exceptions to this rule but one look at the Spirit Awards Best Feature nominations and we can guarantee you’ll be hearing a lot more about these films as the Academy Awards draw near.

Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours has scooped nominations for Best Feature, Best Director and Best Male lead for James Franco, who is set to host the Academy Awards this year with Anne Hathaway. Our guess is 127 Hours won’t go home with any awards but if you must choose one category to win, James Franco for Best Male Lead would be where our bet is placed.

Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan has twitter aflutter and film critics and lovers singing its praise already. It won’t hit Australian screens until January 20, 2011, but it is one of the most highly anticipated films of the new year. Black Swan has been nominated for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Female Lead and Best Cinematography. Based on the glowing reviews we’re already hearing you could safely say Black Swan could take home any of the categories it’s nominated in.

Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg is an interesting choice for Best Feature and a great example of the aforementioned exception to the rule. While it is a personal favourite of 2010, it’s not likely to win while in the company of more mainstream films. Still, it’s nice to see an under-appreciated film nominated. Greta Gerwig is nominated for Best Female Lead and Ben Stiller for Best Male Lead. Gerwig is in good company in the Female Lead category and while entirely deserving it’s hard to see her winning when pitted against the likes of Natalie Portman, Nicole Kidman and Annette Bening.

Lisa Cholodenko’s modern family drama The Kids Are All Right is nominated for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Female Lead and Best Supporting Male. There’s a lot of love for this film and it will be disappointing if it doesn’t take home at least one award. I’d love to see Mark Ruffalo win for Best Supporting Male but am saddened Julianne Moore wasn’t recognised for her performance which equalled, if not bettered, that of Annette Bening.

Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone is the real film to watch, as we mentioned before. With an amazing seven nominations – Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Female Lead, Best Supporting Female, Best Supporting Male and Best Cinematography – it’s sure to bring home the bacon in at least one category. What an amazing achievement it would be if young actress Jennifer Lawrence takes out Best Female Lead, a truly deserving win in our opinion. We’re pretty confident it’s a frontrunner for Best Cinematography also; it’s a stunning looking film that stands apart from the other nominees.

Another highly anticipated film, John Cameron Mitchell’s Rabbit Hole, released in Australia February 17, 2011, has a few nominations under its belt. It’s up for Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Female Lead for Nicole Kidman and Best Male Lead for Aaron Eckhart.

There was only one nomination for Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine, being released December 26, 2010, and that was for Michelle Williams in Best Female Lead. Similarly, Nicole Holofcener’s brilliant Please Give only managed one nomination for Best Screenplay. It did, however, win the Robert Altman Award, which is given to a film’s director, casting director and the ensemble cast.

Australian viewers will be unfamiliar with the majority of the nominations for Best Documentary. The most notable, and perhaps controversial, is Exit Through The Gift Shop, the Banksy produced film about street art. Other nominee Restrepo is getting early Oscar buzz and definitely sounds like one to watch out for.

Overall the Spirit Awards nominations are a list of must watch films; there’s not a bad one in the bunch. Check out the full list here. We’ll be anticipating the ceremony on February 26, 2011 when the winners will be announced.

Discuss: Your thoughts on the nominees?

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