nominees for the Independent Spirit Awards have been announced, and maybe their list of Best Feature nominees will finally inspire me to finish my editorial about Little Miss Sunshine. See, that film – which stars such edgy, indie unknowns as Steve Carrell, Greg Kinnear and Alan Arkin – is among the five films nominated.

The Best Feature is really a mixed bag – great, and truly independently made and minded films like Pan’s Labyrinth made the cut. Half Nelson, a film I didn’t particularly like, but which has strong indie credentials, is on there as well, but so is The Dead Girl – a movie that I hear is quite good, but is stuffed to the gills with name actors. And I am happy about some of the other nominees – it’s great to see Man Push Cart, the Bicycle Thief of coffee vendor movies, get recognized. And I thought Channing Tatum was fantastic in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.

The full list of nominees is below, but I wonder why the John Cassavetes Award even needs to exist. I mean, the obvious answer is because an 8 million dollar fake indie like Little Miss Sunshine, or a movie like The Painted Veil, which cost $34 million, hogs up the nomination list with name actors who will guarantee a better TV viewing audience. So I guess that was a rhetorical question, but one that should be asked of any awards show that claims to honor independent film.

I may sound like I am slamming these films in general (well, I sort of am slamming Little Miss Sunshine, the single most overpraised movie of 2006), but I’m not. I like films like this. I like that Hollywood stars now go and star in smaller movies. But the reality is that when you’re making a 34 million dollar movie with Warner Independent Pictures financing and it stars Edward Norton, it’s not exactly what we think of when we think of "indie" movies. When I think of an "indie" movie, I think about a scrappy crew of people with a vision trying to make something for very little money and very little support – not Edward Norton in a period drama that’s actually filmed in China.

The awards are given out live on IFC February 24 at 5pm, EST. Ignore the ‘Bravo’ in the image above, they aren’t showing it this year. Look, I was in a rush.


BEST FEATURE (Award given to the Producer)
NOTE: Executive Producers are not listed.

American Gun
Producer: Ted Kroeber

The Dead Girl
Producers: Tom Rosenberg, Henry Winterstern, Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright, Eric Karten, Kevin Turen

Half Nelson
Producers: Jamie Patricof, Alex Orlovsky, Lynette Howell, Anna Boden, Rosanne Korenberg

Little Miss Sunshine
Producers: Marc Turtletaub, David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf, Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa

Pan’s Labyrinth
Producers: Bertha Navarro, Alfonso Cuaron, Frida Torresblanco, Alvaro Augustin, Guillermo del Toro

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

Day Night Day Night
Director: Julia Loktev
Producers: Julia Loktev, Melanie Judd, Jessica Levin

Man Push Cart
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Producers: Ramin Bahrani, Pradip Ghosh, Bedford T. Bentley III

The Motel
Director: Michael Kang
Producers: Matthew Greenfield, Miguel Arteta, Gina Kwon, Karin Chien

Sweet Land
Director: Ali Selim
Producers: Alan Cumming, James Bigham, Ali Selim

Wristcutters: A Love Story
Director: Goran Dukic
Producers: Adam Sherman, Chris Coen, Tatiana Kelly, Mikal P. Lazarev


Robert Altman – A Prairie Home Companion
Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris – Little Miss Sunshine
Ryan Fleck – Half Nelson
Karen Moncrieff – The Dead Girl
Steven Soderbergh – Bubble

(Given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer)
NOTE: Executive Producers are not listed.

Director: Mike Akel
Producers: Mike Akel, Angela Alvarez, Graham Davidson, Chris Mass
Writers: Chris Mass & Mike Akel

Four Eyed Monsters
Writer/Director/Producers: Arin Crumley & Susan Buice

Old Joy
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Producers: Lars Knudsen, Jay Van Hoy, Anish Savjani, Neil Kopp
Writers: Jon Raymond & Kelly Reichardt

Writer/Directors: Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland
Producer: Anne Clements

Twelve and Holding
Director: Michael Cuesta
Producers: Leslie Urdang, Michael Cuesta, Brian Bell, Jenny Schweitzer
Writer: Anthony S. Cipriano


Neil Burger – The Illusionist
Nicole Holofcener – Friends with Money
Ron Nyswaner – The Painted Veil
Jason Reitman – Thank You For Smoking
Jeff Stanzler – Sorry, Haters


Michael Arndt – Little Miss Sunshine
Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck – Half Nelson
Goran Dukic – Wristcutters: A Love Story
Dito Montiel – A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
Gabrielle Zevin – Conversations with Other Women


Shareeka Epps – Half Nelson
Catherine O’Hara – For Your Consideration
Elizabeth Reaser – Sweet Land
Michelle Williams – Land of Plenty
Robin Wright Penn – Sorry, Haters


Aaron Eckhart – Thank You For Smoking
Ryan Gosling – Half Nelson
Edward Norton – The Painted Veil
Ahmad Razvi Man – Push Cart
Forest Whitaker – American Gun


Melonie Diaz – A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
Marcia Gay Harden – American Gun
Mary Beth Hurt – The Dead Girl
Frances McDormand – Friends with Money
Amber Tamblyn – Stephanie Daley


Alan Arkin – Little Miss Sunshine
Raymond J. Barry – Steel City
Daniel Craig – Infamous
Paul Dano – Little Miss Sunshine
Channing Tatum – A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints


Arin Crumley – Four Eyed Monsters
Anthony Dod Mantle – Brothers of the Head
Guillermo Navarro – Pan’s Labyrinth
Aaron Platt – Wild Tigers I Have Known
Michael Simmonds – Man Push Cart

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director)

A Lion in the House
Directors: Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert

My Country, My Country
Director: Laura Poitras

The Road to Guantanamo
Directors: Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross

The Trials of Darryl Hunt
Directors: Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern

You’re Gonna Miss Me
Director: Keven McAlester

BEST FOREIGN FILM (Award given to the director)

12:08 East of Bucharest
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu

The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros
Director: Auraeus Solito

Chronicle of an Escape
Director: Israel Adrian Caetano

Days of Glory
Director: Rachid Bouchareb

The Lives of Others
Director: Florian Henckel von
(Germany) Donnersmarck