"Artist," "Take Shelter" lead Spirit Award nominees

Tue Nov 29, 2011 4:56pm EST

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(Reuters) - Silent film "The Artist" and the apocalyptic tale "Take Shelter" led the Independent Spirit Award nominations on Tuesday, each taking nods for best feature, director and for acting.

"The Artist," which led Tuesday's New York Film Critics Circle honors with wins for best picture and director, took two Spirit Award nominations for Michel Hazanavicius for directing and screenplay. The festival hit about the transition in Hollywood from silent films to talkies also scored a nod for lead actor Jean Dujardin.

"Take Shelter," another well-received indie film in 2011, tied with "The Artist" for most nominations, each garnering five. It tells the story of a man haunted by apocalyptic visions and nightmares, and earned nods for director Jeff Nichols and lead actor Michael Shannon.

"The Descendants," highly touted during the current film awards season, took home nominations for best feature and for director Alexander Payne in the Hawaii-set story of a man trying to connect with his daughters while his wife is comatose following an accident. Payne's screenplay was also nominated.

"Beginners," which on Monday shared the top prize for best feature at the Gotham Film Awards that also honor independent films, won four nominations including two for Mike Mills for directing and his screenplay based on his own experience when his gay, elderly father came out of the closet.

The film also earned Christopher Plummer a best supporting actor nomination, in the role as the father. "Beginners" was honored by the Gothams for its ensemble cast.

Other best feature nominees for Spirit awards included cancer drama "50/50" and the thriller "Drive."

OSCAR WATCH

The Spirit Awards are among the year's top honors for art house films, and combined with New York's Gotham Awards as well as critics' accolades, they give industry watchers an eye on the year's best low-budget films. Often those movies also compete for Oscars, the world's top cinema honors given in February by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Last year's best actress winner for the Spirits, Natalie Portman, went on to collect the Oscar for "Black Swan."

In other Spirit Award nominations, best actor nods went to Demian Bichir for "A Better Life," Ryan Gosling with "Drive" and Woody Harrelson in "Rampart."

Michelle Williams, considered a leading Oscar contender, was nominated for best actress in "My Week With Marilyn," in which she plays Marilyn Monroe struggling on the troubled set of the British film, "The Prince and the Showgirl."

Other nominees included Lauren Ambrose in "Think of Me," Rachael Harris in "Natural Selection," Adepero Oduye in "Pariah" and Elizabeth Olsen in "Martha Marcy May Marlene."

Independent Spirit Award winners will given out by the Los Angeles-based group Film Independent on February 25, one day before the Oscars.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Jill Serjeant and Bob Tourtellotte)

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