‘Winter’s Bone’ leads Spirit Awards with 7 noms

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - The rural crime thriller “Winter’s Bone” earned a leading seven nominations Tuesday for the Spirit Awards honoring independent film, including best picture and acting honors for Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes and Dale Dickey.

Also nominated for best picture were James Franco’s survival tale “127 Hours,” Natalie Portman’s ballet drama “Black Swan,” Ben Stiller’s dark romance “Greenberg” and Annette Bening’s lesbian family drama “The Kids Are All Right.”

The awards will be presented Feb. 26, the day before the Academy Awards.

“Winter’s Bone,” which won the top prize at last winter’s Sundance Film Festival, also earned a best-actress nomination for Lawrence, who stars as an Ozark Mountains teen on a desperate search through the region’s criminal underbelly to find her missing father and save her family home.

The film also picked up supporting-acting slots for Hawkes and Dickey, a directing nomination for Debra Granik, a screenplay honor for Granik and co-writer Anne Rosellini, and a cinematography nomination.

“The Kids Are All Right” was second with five nominations, including a best-actress honor for Bening and a supporting-actor slot for Mark Ruffalo. Co-star Julianne Moore missed out on a nomination for the comic drama about lesbian parents whose teenage children make contact with their sperm-donor father.

Along with Lawrence, Bening and Portman, best-actress nominations went to Greta Gerwig for “Greenberg,” Nicole Kidman for the grief drama “Rabbit Hole” and Michelle Williams for the marital tale “Blue Valentine.” The category had six nominees instead of the usual five.

Besides Franco and Stiller, best-actor nominees were Ronald Bronstein for the fatherhood story “Daddy Longlegs,” Aaron Eckhart for “Rabbit Hole” and John C. Reilly for the romantic comedy “Cyrus.”

Along with Granik, the best-director field includes “127 Hours” filmmaker Danny Boyle, who won best picture and director Oscars for 2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire.” Also competing for the directing honor are Darren Aronofsky for “Black Swan,” Lisa Cholodenko for “The Kids Are All Right” and John Cameron Mitchell for “Rabbit Hole.”

Nicole Holofcener’s “Please Give” was selected to receive the Robert Altman Award honoring a film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast. The film stars Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet and Rebecca Hall in the tale of a couple clashing with the granddaughters of a woman living in an apartment they own.

Low-budget films such as those honored at the Spirit Awards have gained more and more weight at the Oscars, filling a void left as Hollywood studios increasingly concentrated on mainstream blockbusters.

Recent Spirit Awards winners such as “Precious,” “The Wrestler” and “Juno” have been major Oscar contenders.

Bening, Franco and Portman are considered strong Oscar prospects, while the Spirit Awards nominations could help draw Oscar attention to films with lesser-known stars such as “Winter’s Bone.”

Presented by the cinema group Film Independent, the Spirit Awards honor movies that cost less than $20 million to make. Other criteria include films’ originality, provocative subject matter and percentage of funding from independent sources outside the Hollywood studio system.

Joel McHale, star of the TV comedy “Community,” will be host of the Spirit Awards, airing on IFC.

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On the Net:

http://www.spiritawards.com

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