The Artist, The Descendants Lead Independent Spirit Award Nominations

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The Artist and The Descendants head the pack as the nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards have been announced. The annual awards show celebrates the independent film and in many ways is one way to measure the upcoming Oscar nominees.

George Clooney and Shailene Woodley in The Descendants
Among the welcomed surprises were the nominations for Take Shelter including Best Director for Jeff Nichols, Best Actor for Michael Shannon and Best Supporting Female for Jessica Chastain. After extolling the virtues of the ensemble piece Margin Call (check out our review), we were thrilled that the film’s cast earned the Robert Altman Award for an Ensemble.

Many times when award season rolls around, films that arrived earlier in the year are forgotten. Beginners is one of the best of the year (check out our Best of 2011 so far) and it was rewarded with a Best Picture nod, as well as nominations for Best Director (Mike Mills) and Christopher Plummer for Best Supporting Male -- even though it arrived during summer.

And finally, one of the best performances of the year was rewarded as Elizabeth Olsen earned her first Independent Spirit Award nod for her work on Martha Marcy May Marlene.

Independent Spirit Award Nominees:

Best Feature
50/50
Beginners
Drive
Take Shelter
The Artist
The Descendants

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

Best First Feature
Another Earth
In The Family
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Natural Selection

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

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

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

John Cassavetes Award for films made under $500,000
Bellflower
Circumstance
Hello Lonesome
Pariah
The Dynamiter

Best Documentary
An African Selection
Bill Cunningham New York
The Interrupters
The Redemption of General Butt Naked
We Were Here

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

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

Best Screenplay
Joseph Cedar, Footnote
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Tom McCarthy, Win Win
Mike Mills, Beginners
Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Best Foreign Film
A Separation
Melancholia
Shame
The Kid With a Bike
Tyrannosaur

Robert Altman Award for Ensemble
Margin Call
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