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The Spirit Awards nominations were announced this morning.  The press had Anthony Mackie and Kate Beckinsale reading the list, while us mere mortals waited breathlessly for the official twitter feed to update.  Seems like a tossup to me.  In any case, the Spirit Award nominations are officially the start of Oscar season!  Yay!  It was so kind of them for wait until I bought a new laptop.

As a reminder/disclosure, the Grouches vote for the Spirit Awards.  So if anyone representing some of the harder to see films (especially for us out in DC) wants to send us a screener, we won’t complain!

You can find the nominees here.  As the tweets started rolling out, I sent a confused message to John: The Artist was eligible?  A point you’ll also find made in this quite excellent take on the biggest surprises of the nominations.  Frankly, it is pretty silly that no one quite knows which films are and aren’t eligible for the Spirit Awards.  If the Oscars can make such a list available, you can too, Spirit Awards.

The Grouches were surprised at how mainstream, relatively speaking, the nominations seemed to be.  Naturally, there were the out of left picks picks that have become the signature of the Spirit Awards – I doubt pretty much anyone had heard of Think of Me, I’m a fervent Lauren Ambrose supporter and I hadn’t heard of it.  But a significant majority of the noms are at least in the Oscar conversation.

There’s also a lot of overlap between categories, there aren’t very many films with a single nomination.  Even three out of the five nominees in the John Cassevetes category (films made for under $500,000) received a nomination elsewhere.  I’m not sure what to make of that.  Maybe the committee got it right.  But it seems unimaginative at best and lazy at worst.

The article I linked above hit the major snubs: Clooney, Close, Like Crazy, Midnight in Paris for most categories.  There are always going to be snubs, this batch seems relatively tame.

But enough negatives!  Oscar season has kicked off with an intriguing bunch of movies.  They may not all turn out to be winners, (cough, Cedar Rapids) but it is going to be a lot of fun exploring them.

And in case you are wondering, I’m actively ignoring the New York critics awards that were also announced this morning.  New York bias aside, their refusal to wait until all 2011 likely eligible films had, you know, BEEN COMPLETED was absurd.  I realize this whole process is ridiculous, but to me, if you are naming best in class without having at least the chance to see the whole class, you’ve completely abandoned any pretense that you are interested in the movies.

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We here at Golden Grouches are a voter for the Independent Spirit Awards. That is, the four of us combine to form one member of Film Independent and we merge our brainpower to submit one ballot. We had a fun time doing it last year, seeking out smaller films and arguing about our votes.

On Tuesday the nominees will be announced and we’ll have our list of films to try to track down in the next three months. The Spirits give us a nice long time to see the films and hopefully give the nominees a box office boost.

It’s tough to know beforehand what has qualified for the Spirits. A film’s budget must come in under $20 million and be primarily American. They don’t publish a list of qualified films so we’re all left doubly guessing for tomorrow. Maybe the films we hope to see on the nomination list were too costly or too Canadian. But we’ve got a few nominees we’re hoping to see show up.

John

My major hope is a Best Actress nomination for Liana Liberato in Trust. I really liked the (David Schwimmer-directed!) film about a girl targeted by an online predator and maybe Catherine Keener and Clive Owen as her parents will garner the awards nominations as the bigger stars, but Liberato is so so good as the victimized teen. The film works because it’s not simply a weepy melodrama. Liberato’s character won’t admit she was a victim and her relationship with her dad becomes fraught. So she’s got the angsty teen thing down! Plus of course the horrible abuse.

I’m not entirely positive 50/50 qualifies, but if it does I’d like to see it get some recognition. It wasn’t as great as I was expecting – I think I sunk it with high expectations – but it’s still a very good and fairly brave film. Any of the actors would be good nominees: Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, and especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Jared

If it is eligible, I’d love to see Gregg Araki’s Kaboom get some love.  A divisive movie, to be sure, but it totally worked for me.  It will end up as one of my favorite films of the year, so I’d be tickled pick if it somehow got some top nominations, including a best actor for lead Thomas Dekker.

Super is a dark, twisted, brilliant ordinary guy-turned-superhero flick.  It is best watched with a friend and some good beer (Thanks, Adam!).  I’d love to see its script get a nod and I wouldn’t mind Rainn Wilson for lead and Ellen Page for supporting.  And OK, it is the fanboy in me, but if Judi Dench can get an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, then Nathan Fillion is totally deserving of a nomination for his role here.

One of the few actual contenders I’ve seen is Martha Marcy May Marlene, and I’m pretty sure it is deserving of all the noms it will receive.

I’m guessing Hesher was eligible last year, but if not, Joseph Gordon-Levitt deserves a nom both because he is awesome and because he so completely inhabits this role that’s like nothing else I’ve ever seen from him.

Best Actor is always crowded, but David Hyde Pierce in The Perfect Host is way more under than radar than he should be, in my opinion.  He’s excellent as a…well…I don’t want to spoil anything, but he is super creepy.

And I’m actually pretty down on three likely contenders: Jane Eyre, Win Win, and Take Shelter.  They are all populated with actors I really like, so I’m not necessarily opposed to acting nominations (I think the order in which I’d root fort them is: Michael Shannon, Michael Fassbender, Amy Ryan, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Paul Giamatti).  But I’ll be a little disappointed with any best picture or writing nominations.

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