‘Moonrise Kingdom,’ ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’ ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ Top Indie Spirit Awards Nominations

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With big studios dominating the Oscar race, Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations go for smaller films, with "Moonrise Kingdom" and "Silver Linings Playbook" landing five noms each

On the heels of their wins at Monday night's Gotham Awards, Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" and Benh Zeitlin's "Beasts of the Southern Wild" are among the nominees in the Best Feature category at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Moonrise KingdomDavid O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" was also nominated for the top prize, and tied "Moonrise Kingdom" (left) for the most overall noms with five.

Other films competing for the top award are "Bernie" and "Keep the Lights On."

Spirit Awards nominees were announced on Tuesday morning by actors Anna Kendrick. Zoe Saldana and Common. While "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Moonrise Kingdom" led with five nominations, "Beasts," "Middle of Nowhere" and "Keep the Lights On" received four.

"Silver Linings Playbook" was something of a surprise nominee because its reported budget was higher than the $20 million limit set by Spirit Awards rules. The jury has some discretion in qualifying films, but every film with a budget of more than $15 million is required to submit the top sheet from its final budget report to determine eligibility.

Fox Searchlight led all distributors with nine nominations spread out over four films ("Beasts," "Ruby Sparks," "The Sound of My Voice" and "The Sessions"). Music Box Films received seven; IFC, Focus and Sony Classics six each; and Weinstein five.

In a year in which the major studios have reclaimed the awards picture, releasing such high-profile, critically-acclaimed contenders as "Argo," "Lincoln," "Les Miserables," "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Life of Pi," the leading independent-film awards appear more peripheral to the Oscar race than they have been in recent years.

The acting races did contain a number of performers who are expected to be competing for Oscars, among them Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper from "Silver Linings," John Hawkes and Helen Hunt" from "The Sessions" and Quvenzhane Wallis from "Beasts."

They will be going up against the likes of Jack Black in "Bernie," Linda Cardellini in "Return," Mary Elizabeth Winstead in "Smashed," Michael Pena in "End of Watch" and Sam Rockwell in "Seven Psychopaths."

Matthew McConaughey received two acting nominations, one for his lead role in William Friedkin's "Killer Joe" and one for his supporting turn in Steven Soderbergh's "Magic Mike," which was released by a major studio, Warner Bros., but made for less than $10 million.

While "Beasts of the Southern Wild" could have competed in the Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay categories, instead it skipped straight to the Best Feature, Best Director and acting races.

Last year, Oscar nominees "The Artist" and "The Descendants" were nominated for Best Feature, with "The Artist" defying the showbiz adage "win on Saturday, lose on Sunday" by taking the top Spirit Award one day before winning the Best Picture Oscar. In fact, six of last year's Spirit Award winners – including director Michel Hazanavicius, actor Jean Dujardin and Supporting Actor Christopher Plummer – won at both ceremonies.

The previous year, four out of the five Spirit Awards nominees in the Best Feature category also received Oscar Best Picture noms.

Nominations for the Spirit Awards are made by juries of about a dozen filmmakers and critics. The main jury, the American Narrative Nominating Committee, picks nominees in the majority of categories.

Generally, the awards are restricted to films made for less than $20 million and judged to be "independent" in nature by a jury. Winners are chosen by all members of Film Independent, which is open both filmmakers and to movie fans who pay an annual fee.

The 28th Film Independent Spirit Awards will take place on the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 23, in its usual location of a tent on Santa Monica beach.

The nominees:

BEST FEATURE
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Bernie
Keep the Lights On
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook

BEST DIRECTOR
Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
Julia Loktev, The Loneliest Planet
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Ira Sachs, Keep the Lights On
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

BEST SCREENPLAY
Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
Zoe Kazan, Ruby Sparks
Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Ira Sachs, Keep the Lights On

BEST FIRST FEATURE
Fill the Void
Gimme the Loot
Safety Not Guaranteed
Sound of My Voice
The Perks of Being a Wallflower

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Rama Burshtein, Fill the Void
Derek Connolly, Safety Not Guaranteed
Christopher Ford, Robot & Frank
Rashida Jones & Will McCormack, Celeste and Jesse Forever
Jonathan Lisecki, Gayby

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000. 
Breakfast with Curtis
Middle of Nowhere
Mosquita y Mari
Starlet
The Color Wheel

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Linda Cardellini, Return
Emayatzy Corinealdi, Middle of Nowhere
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Smashed

BEST MALE LEAD
Jack Black, Bernie
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Thure Lindhardt, Keep the Lights On
Matthew McConaughey, Killer Joe
Wendell Pierce, Four

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Rosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister's Sister
Ann Dowd, Compliance
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Brit Marling, Sound of My Voice
Lorraine Toussaint, Middle of Nowhere

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike
David Oyelowo, Middle of Nowhere
Michael Péna, End of Watch
Sam Rockwell, Seven Psychopaths
Bruce Willis, Moonrise Kingdom

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Yoni Brook, Valley of Saints
Lol Crawley, Here
Ben Richardson, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Roman Vasyanov, End of Watch
Robert Yeoman, Moonrise Kingdom

BEST DOCUMENTARY
How to Survive a Plague
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present
The Central Park Five
The Invisible War
The Waiting Room

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Amour,  Michael Haneke
Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Rust And Bone, Jacques Audiard
Sister, Ursula Meier
War Witch, Kim Nguyen

16th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
(includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget)
Nobody Walks, Alicia Van Couvering
Prince Avalanche, Derrick Tseng
Stones in the Sun, Mynette Louie

19th ANNUAL SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
(includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant)
Pincus, David Fenster
Gimme the Loot, Adam Leon
Electrick Children, Rebecca Thomas

STELLA ARTOIS TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
(includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant)
Leviathan, Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
The Waiting Room, Peter Nicks
Only the Young, Jason Tippet & Elizabeth Mims

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
(Given to one film's director, casting director, and its ensemble cast)
Starlet
Director: Sean Baker
Casting Director: Julia Kim
Ensemble Cast: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Karren Karagulian, Stella Maeve, James Ransone