'The Artist,' 'Take Shelter' Dominate Indie Spirit Award Nominations

37 BIZ RACE The Artist Jean Dujardin Berenice Bejo H
Peter Iovino/The Weinstein Co.

Jean Dujardin (left), as a silent-film star whose career is in danger, and Berenice Bejo, playing an up-and-coming dancer, could be rewarded with acting nominations.

UPDATED: Both films took five nominations while "Beginners," "Drive," "The Descendants" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene" each claimed four noms.

With five nominations each, the silent movie The Artist and the apocalyptic drama Take Shelter dominated the nominations for Film Independent's Spirit Awards, which were announced Tuesday.

They will compete for the best feature award with the father-son drama Beginners, the noir thriller Drive and the Hawaii-set family drama The Descendants.

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The Wall Street thiller Margin Call also earned some love since it was selected to receive the annual Robert Altman Award, given to a film's director, casting director and ensemble of actors.

While it's been a critical favorite on the festival scene, the presence of The Artist is sure to raise eyebrows. Film Independent earmarks its awards for American-made features produced for $20 million or less. According to the group's submission guidelines, an eligible feature must have been made by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in at least two of the following categories: director, writer or producer. It must be set in the U.S. and at least partially financed by a U.S.-based company. 

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While The Artist is set in Hollywood and filmed in Los Angeles, employed American actors like John Goodman and many local crew and was acquired for U.S. distribution by the Weinstein Co., its writer-director and two principal stars all hail from France.

According to a Film Independent spokesperson, the movie qualfied since in addition to filming in the U.S., Michel Hazanavicius, who scored writing and directing nominations, is actually a permanent U.S. resident.

Along with Hazanavicius, the nominated directors are Beginners' Mike Mills, Shelter's Jeff Nichols, Descendants' Alexander Payne and Drive's Nicolas Winding Refn.

Hazanavicius and Mills also earned best screenplay noms. Payne joined that group as well with his fellow Descendants writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Rounding out the category are Footnote's Joseph Cedar and Win Win's Tom McCarthy.

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Despite the strong showing by Descendants, its star George Clooney was not among the best actor nominees. Instead, the actors singled out for noms were A Better Life's Demian Bichir, Artist's Jean Dujardin, Drive's Ryan Gosling, Rampart's Woody Harrelson and Shelter's Michael Shannon.

On the female side of the equation, the lead nominees are Think of Me's Lauren Ambrose, Natural Selection's Rachael Harris, Pariah's Adepero Oduye, Martha's Elizabeth Olsen and My Week With Marilyn's Michelle Williams.

Jessica Chastain, who also picked up a New York Film Critics Circle award Tuesday, was nominated in the supporting female category for her work in Shelter. She will compete with established actresses like Angelica Huston for 50/50 and Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs along with newcomers like Gun Hill Road's Harmony Santana and Descendants' Shailene Woodley.

Albert Brooks made it into the best supporting male line-up for his gangster in Drive. That category also includes Martha's John Hawkes, Beginners' Christopher Plummer, Cedar Rapids' John C. Reilly and Midnight in Paris' Corey Stoll.

Margin and Martha also both made appearances among the best first feature nominees, along with Another Earth, In the Family and Natural Selection.

The best first screenplay nominees were Earth's Mike Cahill and Brit Marling, Margin's J.C. Chandor, Terri's Patrick deWitt, Cedar Rapids' Phil Johnston and 50/50's Will Reiser.

Looking abroad, the Spirits reserved best international film nominations for Iran's A Separation, the U.K.'s Tyrannosaur and Shame (although the later film was shot in New York) and Melancholia, which has Danish, Swedish, French and German backing, and The Kid With the Bike, financed through Belgian, French and Italian sources.

In the documentary category, noms went to An African SelectionBill Cunningham New YorkThe InterruptersThe Redemption of General Butt Naked and We Were Here.

The nominees for best cinematography were Bellflower's Joel Hodge, The Off Hours' Benjamin Kasulke, Midnight in Paris' Darius Khondji, The Artist's Guillaume Schiffman and The Dynamiter's Jeffrey Waldron.

On the low-budget end of the scale, the nominees for the John Cassevetes Award, given to a feature made for less than $500,000 were Bellflower, Circumstance, Hello Lonesome, Pariah and The Dynamiter.

With movies like Descendants and Martha, Fox Searchlight took the distributor's crown with 14 nominations, followed by Sony Pictures Classics with nine and Focus Features and the Weinstein Co., both with six.

The nominations, chosen from among 277 submissions, were announced Tuesday morning by Anthony Mackie and Kate Beckinsale.

The 27th annual awards ceremony will be held Feb. 25 at the beach in Santa Monica and broadcast by IFC.

The full list of nominees:

Best Feature
50/50 - Producers: Evan Goldberg, Ben Karlin, Seth Rogen
Beginners - Producers: Miranda de Pencier, Lars Knudsen, Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Jay Van Hoy
Drive - Producers: Michel Litvak, John Palermo, Marc Platt, Gigi Pritzker, Adam Siegel
Take Shelter - Producers: Tyler Davidson, Sophia Lin
The Artist - Producer: Thomas Langmann
The Descendants - Producers: Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Mike Mills - Beginners
Jeff Nichols - Take Shelter
Alexander Payne - The Descendants
Nicolas Winding Refn - Drive

Best Screenplay
Joseph Cedar - Footnote
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Tom McCarthy - Win Win
Mike Mills - Beginners
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash - The Descendants

Best First Feature
Another Earth - Director: Mike Cahill, Producers: Mike Cahill, Hunter Gray, Brit Marling, Nicholas Shumaker
In the Family - Director: Patrick Wang, Producers: Robert Tonino, Andrew van den Houten, Patrick Wang
Margin Call - Director: J.C. Chandor, Producers: Robert Ogden Barnum, Michael Benaroya, Neal Dodson, Joe Jenckes, Corey Moosa, Zachary Quinto
Martha Marcy May Marlene - Director: Sean Durkin, Producers: Antonio Campos, Patrick Cunningham, Chris Maybach, Josh Mond
Natural Selection - Director: Robbie Pickering, Producers: Brion Hambel, Paul Jensen

Best First Screenplay
Mike Cahill, Brit Marling - Another Earth
J.C. Chandor - Margin Call
Patrick deWitt - Terri
Phil Johnston - Cedar Rapids
Will Reiser - 50/50

John Cassavetes Award
Bellflower - Writer/Director: Evan Glodell, Producers: Evan Glodell, Vincent Grashaw
Circumstance - Writer/Director: Maryam Keshavarz, Producers: Karin Chien, Maryam Keshavarz, Melissa M. Lee
Hello Lonesome - Writer/Director/Producer: Adam Reid
Pariah - Writer/Director: Dee Rees, Producer: Nekisa Cooper
The Dynamiter - Writer: Brad Inglesby, Director: Matthew Gordon, Producers: Kevin Abrams, Matthew Gordon, Merilee Holt, Art Jones, Mike Jones, Nate Tuck, Amile Wilson

Best Female Lead
Lauren Ambrose - Think of Me
Rachael Harris - Natural Selection
Adepero Oduye - Pariah
Elizabeth Olsen - Martha Marcy May Marlene
Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn

Best Male Lead
Demián Bichir - A Better Life
Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Ryan Gosling - Drive
Woody Harrelson - Rampart
Michael Shannon - Take Shelter

Best Supporting Female
Jessica Chastain - Take Shelter
Anjelica Huston - 50/50
Janet McTeer - Albert Nobbs
Harmony Santana - Gun Hill Road
Shailene Woodley - The Descendants

Best Supporting Male
Albert Brooks - Drive
John Hawkes - Martha Marcy May Marlene
Christopher Plummer - Beginners
John C. Reilly - Cedar Rapids
Corey Stoll - Midnight in Paris

Best Cinematography
Joel Hodge - Bellflower
Benjamin Kasulke - The Off Hours
Darius Khondji - Midnight in Paris
Guillaume Schiffman - The Artist
Jeffrey Waldron - The Dynamiter

Best Documentary
An African Election - Director/Producer: Jarreth Merz
Bill Cunningham New York - Director: Richard Press, Producer: Philip Gefter
The Interrupters - Director/Producer: Steve James, Producer: Alex Kotlowitz
The Redemption of General Butt Naked - Director/Producers: Eric Strauss, Daniele Anastasion
We Were Here - Director/Producer: David Weissman

Best International Film
A Separation (Iran)
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Melancholia (Denmark/Sweden/France/Germany)
Director: Lars von Trier
Shame (UK)
Director: Steve McQueen
The Kid With a Bike (Belgium/France/Italy)
Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Tyrannosaur (UK)
Director: Paddy Considine

Piaget Producers Award
Chad Burris - Mosquita y Mari
Sophia Lin - Take Shelter
Josh Mond - Martha Marcy May Marlene

Someone to Watch Award
Simon Arthur - Silver Tongues
Mark Jackson - Without
Nicholas Ozeki - Mamitas

Truer Than Fiction Award
Heather Courtney - Where Soldiers Come From
Danfung Dennis - Hell and Back Again
Alma Har'el - Bombay Beach

Robert Altman Award
Margin Call - Director: J.C. Chandor
Casting Director: Tiffany Little Canfield, Bernard Telsey
Ensemble Cast: Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci