Film Independent Spirit Award Nominations Announced

"Birdman"
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

'Birdman' topped the noms with a total of six; the awards will be handed out Feb. 21 on the beach in Santa Monica

Birdman, Alejandro G. Inarritu's feature about a movie star trying to make a comeback by appearing on stage, flew high as Film Independent announced the nominees for its 2015 Spirit Awards on Tuesday morning. The film led the list with six nominations, including best feature, director and male lead Michael Keaton. Its closest competition was Richard Linklater's Boyhood, the 12 years-in-the-making movie about a boy growing into manhood, Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler, the noirish account of an L.A. video-shooter, and Ava DuVernay's Selma, her portrait of Martin Luther King in a key moment in the civil rights struggle. All three films scored five nominations each.

In addition to Birdman, Boyhood and Selma, the best feature nominees included Love Is Strange, which is centered around a longtime gay couple as they encounter setbacks in their life, and Whiplash, which focuses on the relationship between a musical prodigy and his tyrannical mentor.

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Four of those movie's also earned best director nominations. But while Inarritu, DuVernay, Linklater and Whiplash's Damien Chazelle made the cut, Love Is Strange's Ira Sachs (who did receive a screenwriting nomination), wasn't included among the nominated directors. Instead, the fifth spot went to David Zellner for Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, about a Japanese woman, played by Rinko Kikuchi, who believes a VHS copy of Fargo is a map to hidden treasure.

Joining Keaton in the circle of nominated male leads were Andre Benjamin for Jimi: All Is By My Side; Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler; John Lithgow for Love Is Strange and David Oyelowo for Selma. The noms for best female lead went to Marion Cotillard for The Immigrant, Kikuchi for Kumiko, Julianne Moore for Still Alice, Jenny Slate for Obvious Child and Tilda Swinton for Only Lovers Left Alive.

While Boyhood's Ellar Coltrane, now 20, wasn't rewarded with a nomination, Boyhood did pick up supporting nominations for its two adult actors, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. In addition to Arquette, the actresses nominated for best supporting female were Jessica Chastain for A Most Violent Year, Carmen Ejogo for Selma, Andrea Suarez Paz for Stand Clear of the Closing Doors and Emma Stone for Birdman. Hawke will compete for the best supporting male award with Nightcrawler's Riz Amed, Love Is Strange's Alfred Molina, Birdman's Edward Norton and Whiplash's J.K. Simmons.

Big Eyes, Tim Burton's film about the painters Margaret and Walter Keane, racked up one nomination for best screenplay for the work of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. The other nominees in the category were J.C. Chandor for A Most Violent Year, Gilroy for Nightcrawler, Jim Jarmusch for Only Lovers Left Alive and Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias for Love Is Strange.

The nominees for best documentaries ranged from Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard's 20,000 Days on Earth, a portrait of musician Nick Cave, and Laura Poitras' Citizenfour, a look at NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, to Debra Granik's Stray Dog, about an aging Vietnam vet, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders' The Salt of the Earth, about nature photographer Sebastiao Salgado, and Orlando von Einsiedel's Virunga, about efforts to save mountain gorillas.

In its best international film category, Film Independent nominated Sweden's Force Majeure, Poland's Ida, Russia's Leviathan, Canada's Mommy, the Philippine's Norte, the End of History and the United Kingdom's Under the Skin.

While Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher and Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice weren't considered in the competitive categories because their budgets were judged to be too large for the indie competition, they were each granted special awards. Foxcatcher will receive a Special Distinction Award, a trophy that Film Independent has given in the past to movies like 2003's 21 Grams. Anderson, his Vice cast and his casting director Cassandra Kulukundis will be presented with the Robert Altman Award, which could provide an emotional moment at the ceremony given that Anderson was a great fan of the late director after whom the award is named.

Among distributors, Sony Pictures Classics was by far the largest beneficiary of the noms, collecting 15 for his films like Love Is Strange and Whiplash. A24, repped by A Most Violent Year and Obvious Child, and Fox Searchlight, which released Birdman, collected six noms each.

The Spirit Awards ceremony is set to take place at 2 p.m. PT on February 21, 2015, the day before the Oscars, on the beach in Santa Monica. The show will air live on IFC. Joel Gallen and Shawn Davis are executive producing.

A complete list of nominees can be found below.

2015 FILM INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARD NOMINATIONS

BEST FEATURE
(Award given to the Producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Producers: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole

Boyhood
Producers: Richard Linklater, Jonathan Sehring, John Sloss, Cathleen Sutherland

Love is Strange
Producers: Lucas Joaquin, Lars Knudsen, Ira Sachs, Jayne Baron Sherman, Jay Van Hoy

Selma
Producers: Christian Colson, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Oprah Winfrey

Whiplash
Producers: Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, David Lancaster, Michael Litvak

BEST DIRECTOR

Damien Chazelle
Whiplash      

Ava DuVernay
Selma

Alejandro G. Iñárritu 
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Richard Linklater
Boyhood

David Zellner Kumiko
The Treasure Hunter

BEST SCREENPLAY

Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski
Big Eyes

J.C. Chandor
A Most Violent Year

Dan Gilroy
Nightcrawler

Jim Jarmusch
Only Lovers Left Alive

Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias
Love is Strange

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

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Producers: Justin Begnaud, Sina Sayyah

Dear White People
Director/Producer: Justin Simien
Producers: Effie T. Brown, Ann Le, Julia Lebedev, Angel Lopez, Lena Waithe

Nightcrawler
Director: Dan Gilroy
Producers: Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak

Obvious Child
Director: Gillian Robespierre
Producer: Elisabeth Holm

She's Lost Control
Director/Producer: Anja Marquardt
Producers: Mollye Asher, Kiara C. Jones

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY

Desiree Akhavan
Appropriate Behavior

Sara Colangelo
Little Accidents

Justin Lader
The One I Love

Anja Marquardt
She's Lost Control

Justin Simien
Dear White People

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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 awarded.

Blue Ruin
Writer/Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Producers:  Richard Peete, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani

It Felt Like Love
Writer/Director/Producer: Eliza Hittman
Producers: Shrihari Sathe, Laura Wagner

Land Ho!
Writers/Directors: Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens
Producers: Christina Jennings, Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy

Man From Reno
Writer/Director: Dave Boyle
Writers: Joel Clark, Michael Lerman
Producer: Ko Mori

Test
Writer/Director/Producer: Chris Mason Johnson
Producer: Chris Martin

BEST FEMALE LEAD

Marion Cotillard
The Immigrant

Rinko Kikuchi Kumiko
The Treasure Hunter

Julianne Moore
Still Alice

Jenny Slate
Obvious Child

Tilda Swinton
Only Lovers Left Alive                    

BEST MALE LEAD

André Benjamin
Jimi: All Is By My Side

Jake Gyllenhaal
Nightcrawler

Michael Keaton
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

John Lithgow
Love is Strange

David Oyelowo
Selma

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

Patricia Arquette
Boyhood

Jessica Chastain
A Most Violent Year

Carmen Ejogo
Selma

Andrea Suarez Paz
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

Emma Stone
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

BEST SUPPORTING MALE

Riz Ahmed
Nightcrawler

Ethan Hawke
Boyhood

Alfred Molina
Love is Strange

Edward Norton
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

J.K. Simmons
Whiplash

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Darius Khondji
The Immigrant

Emmanuel Lubezki 
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Sean Porter
It Felt Like Love

Lyle Vincent
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Bradford Young
Selma

BEST EDITING                  

Sandra Adair 
Boyhood

Tom Cross
Whiplash

John Gilroy 
Nightcrawler

Ron Patane 
A Most Violent Year

Adam Wingard 
The Guest

BEST DOCUMENTARY
(Award given to the director and producer)

20,000 Days on Earth
Directors: Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard
Producers: Dan Bowen, James Wilson    

CITIZENFOUR
Director/Producer: Laura Poitras 
Producers: Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky       

Stray Dog
Director: Debra Granik
Producer: Anne Rosellini    

The Salt of the Earth
Directors: Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders 
Producer: David Rosier

Virunga
Director/Producer: Orlando von Einsiedel
Producer: Joanna Natasegara

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
(Award given to the director)

Force Majeure (Sweden)
Director: Ruben Östlund      

Ida (Poland)
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski          

Leviathan (Russia)
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Mommy (Canada)
Director: Xavier Dolan         

Norte, the End of History (Philippines)
Director: Lav Diaz    

Under the Skin (United Kingdom)
Director: Jonathan Glazer   

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ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
(Given to one film's director, casting director and ensemble cast)

Inherent Vice
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Casting Director: Cassandra Kulukundis
Ensemble Cast: Josh Brolin, Martin Donovan, Jena Malone, Joanna Newsom, Joaquin Phoenix, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short Serena Scott Thomas, Benicio Del Toro, Katherine Waterston, Michael Kenneth Williams, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon

SPECIAL DISTINCTION AWARD

Foxcatcher
Director/Producer: Bennett Miller
Producers: Anthony Bregman, Megan Ellison, Jon Kilik 
Writers: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman 
Actors: Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum       

18th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
The 18th annual Producers Award, sponsored by Piaget, 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.

Chad Burris
Elisabeth Holm
Chris Ohlson

21st ANNUAL KIEHL'S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
The 21st annual Someone to Watch Award, sponsored by Kiehl's Since 1851, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition.  The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl's Since 1851.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour

H.
Directors: Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia   

The Retrieval
Director: Chris Eska

20th ANNUAL LENSCRAFTERS TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
The 20th annual Truer Than Fiction Award, sponsored by LensCrafters 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 funded by LensCrafters.

Approaching the Elephant
Director: Amanda Rose Wilder      

Evolution of a Criminal
Director: Darius Clark Monroe       

The Kill Team
Director: Dan Krauss           

The Last Season 
Director: Sara Dosa

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