The historical tale "The Last Station" and gritty teen drama "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' by Sapphire" each have five nominations to lead the pack heading into tonight's presentation of the 25th Film Independent Spirit Awards.
Both films are nominated for best feature, along with the romantic comedy "(500) Days of Summer" and immigration tales "Amreeka" and "Sin Nombre."
The awards, which honor smaller-budget independent films, will be presented at the L.A. Live complex in downtown Los Angeles.
Lee Daniels, who directed "Precious," and Michael Hoffman, who helmed "Last Station," are both nominated for best director. Mo'Nique, who has won Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards and is nominated for an Oscar for her role as an abusive mother in "Precious," is nominated for best supporting female.
Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, who plays the abused teen in "Precious," and Helen Mirren of "Last Station," about the last year in the life of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, are nominated for best actress. They are both up for the best-actress Oscar on Sunday.
Joining them among Spirit Award nominees are Gwyneth Paltrow for the drama "Two Lovers," Maria Bello for "Downloading Nancy" and Nisreen Faour for "Amreeka," about a Palestinian mother and son who move to Illinois to start a new life.
The lead actor race has Joseph Gordon-Levitt of "(500) Days of Summer" up against Oscar favorite Jeff Bridges of "Crazy Heart" and Oscar nominee Colin Firth of "A Single Man." They are joined by Adam Scott of "The Vicious Kind" and Souleymane Sy Savane from "Goodbye Solo."
"Last Station" also has nominations for Hoffman for best screenplay, as well as for veteran Canadian actor and Oscar nominee Christopher Plummer for supporting actor.
"Precious" also has a nomination for screenwriting for Geoffrey Fletcher.
Several winners of past Spirit Awards have earned Academy Awards, including Penelope Cruz for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and "Juno" screenwriter Diablo Cody last year.
During tonight's ceremony, Joel and Ethan Coen's "A Serious Man," which loosely updates the Biblical story of Job, will receive the Robert Altman Award, given to a film's director, casting director and ensemble cast.
To be eligible for a Spirit Award, films must be at least 70 minutes long, and cost less than $20 million.
The films must have been shown in a commercial theater for at least one week during 2009 or have been shown at one of the qualifying festivals -- Film Independent's Los Angeles Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, New York, Sundance, Telluride or Toronto.
Here is a complete list of nominees:
- BEST FEATURE (Award given to the Producer, Executive Producers are not listed)
- "(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"
- 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"
- "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
- Sophie Barthes, "Cold Souls"
- Scott Cooper, "Crazy Heart"
- Cherien Dabis, "Amreeka"
- Geoffrey Fletcher, "Precious"
- Tom Ford, David Scearce, "A Single Man"
- "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
- Maria Bello, "Downloading Nancy"
- Nisreen Faour, "Amreeka"
- Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"
- Gwyneth Paltrow, "Two Lovers"
- Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious"
- Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"
- Colin Firth, "A Single Man"
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "(500) Days Of Summer"
- Souleymane Sy Savane, "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, "Gentlemen 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"
- "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
- "A Prophet," Director: Jacques Audiard (France)
- "An Education," Director: Lone Scherfig (UK/France)
- "Everlasting Moments," Director: Jan Troell (Sweden)
- "Mother," Director: Bong Joon-Ho (South Korea)
- "The Maid," Director: Sebastian Silva (Chile)
- 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"
- Karin Chien, "The Exploding Girl," "Santa Mesa"
- Larry Fessenden, "I Sell the Dead," "The House of the Devil"
- Dia Sokol, "Beeswax," "Nights & Weekends"
- "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
BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD - Given to the best feature made for under $500,000. Award given to the writer, director, and producer. Executive Producers are not listed
BEST FEMALE LEAD
BEST MALE LEAD
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director)
BEST FOREIGN FILM (Award given to the director)
ACURA SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD - The 16th annual Acura Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Acura.
TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD - The 15th annual Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD - The 13th annual Piaget Producers Award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget.
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD - (Given to one film's director, casting director, and its ensemble cast)