Spirited Indies Shine at the 2006 Independent Spirit Awards Nominations

It was a maverick kind of morning as the nominations for the 2006 Independent Spirit Awards were announced, honoring some of this year’s most affecting, avant garde and anti-studio independent film offerings.

Actress Laura Linney teamed up with Mark Ruffalo–the two co-starred in the acclaimed indie You Can Count On Me in 2000–to announce the nominees at Beverly Hills’ Le Meridian hotel, and despite some challenging tongue-twisting names on the list, they made it through admirably. Linney was rewarded for her trip in from New York with her own nomination as Best Female Lead in The Squid and the Whale.

Ruffalo, meanwhile, seemed to anxiously await his own name being called in the Lead Male and Supporting Male categories, but after he came up empty he suddenly realized: “Oh, I wasn’t in any independent movies this year.”

Several of Linney’s collaborators on The Squid and the Whale, about the painful, messy split of a couple with two sons, fared very well, with nominations going to writer-director Noah Baumbach (Best Director, Best Screenplay), co-stars Jeff Daniels (Best Male Lead) and Jesse Eisenberg (Best Supporting Male) and the film itself was nominated as Best Feature. The film led all nominations with a total of six.

Linney told Hollywood.com that she knew from the moment she finished the screenplay that the project was something extra special: “Noah gave me the script about five years ago, and it took a long time to get it made,” Linney said. “That’s one thing about independent films: you connect yourself to these projects and you don’t know how long it’s going to take to get them made. So when they finally DO get made, and you have to make them under difficult circumstances, always–because the budget is low, you don’t have the time–and then they reach their potential, and then they’re as good as you think they were going to be, as good as your instinct tells you they will be. And then you have a day like today, where there’s nominations and blah, blah, blah. It strengthens your faith in what you do.”

Other high-profile indies scoring multiple noms included stylish, historic look at journalistic principles Good Night and Good Luck (Best Feature, Best Cinematography, George Clooney for Best Director and David Strathairn for Best Male Lead), the gay themed Brokeback Mountain (Best Feature, Ang Lee for Best Director, Michelle Williams for Best Supporting Female and Heath Ledger as Best Lead Male), the insightful biopic Capote (Best Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Philip Seymour Hoffman for Best Male Lead), the Tommy Lee Jones-directed The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Best Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Barry Pepper for Best Supporting Male) and the gender-bending Transamerica (Best First Feature, Best First Screenplay and Felicity Huffman for Best Female Lead)

“It’s really nice for morale,” Linney said of the nominations for all of the indies honored, especially because many of them only get made through perseverance, ingenuity, and commitment–and typically without the big bucks that fuel most studio films.

“Independent film is great fun, but making an independent movie is tough and hard,” she explained. “The hours are rough, the resources are low, you work really, really hard, and so when you hear of a fun, glitzy thing to go to where all of us can celebrate and hoot and holler, it’s really, really nice. It’s also terrific for awareness of these kinds of films, so audiences can be aware of this sort of genre.”

Linney said that those who work in independent film share a bond and welcome any opportunity to meet, bond and share their experiences. “It is a community of people, it really is,” the actress said. “You can look at award shows from a business perspective, but then you can look at them from a community perspective. There is a reason for them other than just acknowledgement of merit for business. There’s also a community of people coming together and being able to run up to the director of the movie that you saw that loved and be able to go ‘Oh my God, you’re amazing.’ And that’s important–and very nice.”

The full list of nominees:

Best Feature:

The Squid and the Whale

Brokeback Mountain

Good Night, and Good Luck


The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Best Male Lead:

Jeff Daniels, The Squid and the Whale

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow

Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain

David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck

Best Female Lead:

Laura Linney, The Squid and the Whale

Felicity HuffmanTransamerica

Dina KorzunForty Shades of Blue

S. Epatha Merkerson, Lackawanna Blues

Cyndi Williams, Room

Best Supporting Male:

Firdous Bamji, The War Within

Matt DillonCrash

Jesse Eisenberg, The Squid and the Whale

Barry Pepper, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Jeffrey Wright, Broken Flowers

Best Supporting Female:

Amy AdamsJunebug

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Happy Endings

Allison Janney, Our Very Own

Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

Robin Wright Penn, Nine Lives

Best Director:

Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain

George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck

Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale

Gregg Araki, Mysterious Skin

Rodrigo Garcia, Nine Lives

Best First Feature:

Paul HaggisCrash

George C. Wolfe, Lackawanna Blues

Miranda July, Me and You and Everyone We Know

Mike MillsThumbsucker

Duncan Tucker, Transamerica

John Cassavetes Award (feature made for less than $500,000): 




The Puffy Chair


Best Screenplay:

Ayad Akhtar, Joseph Castelo and Tom GlynnThe War Within

Guillermo Arriaga, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale

Dan Futterman, Capote

Rodrigo Garcia, Nine Lives

Best First Screenplay:

Kenneth Hanes, Fixing Frank

Miranda July, Me and You and Everyone We Know

Angus MacLachlanJunebug

Sabina Murray, The Beautiful Country

Duncan Tucker, Transamerica

Best Cinematography:

Robert Elswit, Good Night, and Good Luck

John FosterKeane

Adam Kimmel, Capote

Chris Menges, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Harris Savides, Last Days

Best Foreign Film:

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Romania)

Duck Season (Mexico)

Head-On (Germany/Turkey)

Paradise Now (Palestine/Netherlands/Germany/France)

Tony Takitani (Japan)

Best Documentary:

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Grizzly Man

La Sierra 


Sir! No Sir!