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©Focus Features / "Moonrise Kingdom"
© Focus Features / "Moonrise Kingdom"
'Moonrise Kingdom,' 'Silver Linings Playbook' top Indie Spirit Award nominations

By Steve Pond
The Wrap

On the heels of their wins at Monday night's Gotham Awards, Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" and Benh Zeitlin's "Beasts of the Southern Wild" are among the nominees in the Best Feature category at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" was also nominated for the top prize, and tied "Moonrise Kingdom" for the most overall noms with five.

Other films competing for the top award are "Bernie" and "Keep the Lights On."

Bing: 2012 Oscar buzz

Spirit Awards nominees were announced on Tuesday morning by actors Anna Kendrick, Zoe Saldana and Common. While "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Moonrise Kingdom" led with five nominations, "Beasts," "Middle of Nowhere" and "Keep the Lights On" received four.

"Silver Linings Playbook" was something of a surprise nominee, because its reported budget was higher than the $20 million limit set by Spirit Awards rules. The jury has some discretion in qualifying films, but every film with a budget of more than $15 million is required to submit the top sheet from its final budget report to determine eligibility.

Fox Searchlight led all distributors with nine nominations spread out over four films ("Beasts," "Ruby Sparks," "The Sound of My Voice" and "The Sessions"). Music Box Films received seven; IFC, Focus and Sony Classics six each; and Weinstein five.

In a year in which the major studios have reclaimed the awards picture, releasing such high-profile, critically-acclaimed contenders as "Argo," "Lincoln," "Les Miserables," "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Life of Pi," the leading independent-film awards appear more peripheral to the Oscar race than they have been in recent years.

The acting races did contain a number of performers who are expected to be competing for Oscars, among them Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper from "Silver Linings," John Hawkes and Helen Hunt" from "The Sessions" and Quvenzhane Wallis from "Beasts."

They will be going up against the likes of Jack Black in "Bernie," Linda Cardellini in "Return," Mary Elizabeth Winstead in "Smashed," Michael Pena in "End of Watch" and Sam Rockwell in "Seven Psychopaths."

Matthew McConaughey received two acting nominations, one for his lead role in William Friedkin's "Killer Joe" and one for his supporting turn in Steven Soderbergh's "Magic Mike," which was released by a major studio, Warner Bros., but made for less than $10 million.

While "Beasts of the Southern Wild" could have competed in the Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay categories, instead it skipped straight to the Best Feature, Best Director and acting races.

Last year, Oscar nominees "The Artist" and "The Descendants" were nominated for Best Feature, with "The Artist" defying the showbiz adage "win on Saturday, lose on Sunday" by taking the top Spirit Award one day before winning the Best Picture Oscar. In fact, six of last year's Spirit Award winners  including director Michel Hazanavicius, actor Jean Dujardin and Supporting Actor Christopher Plummer  won at both ceremonies.

The previous year, four out of the five Spirit Awards nominees in the Best Feature category also received Oscar Best Picture noms.

Nominations for the Spirit Awards are made by juries of about a dozen filmmakers and critics. The main jury, the American Narrative Nominating Committee, picks nominees in the majority of categories.

Generally, the awards are restricted to films made for less than $20 million and judged to be "independent" in nature by a jury. Winners are chosen by all members of Film Independent, which is open both filmmakers and to movie fans who pay an annual fee.

The 28th Film Independent Spirit Awards will take place on the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 23, in its usual location of a tent on Santa Monica beach.

The nominees:

BEST FEATURE
"Beasts of the Southern Wild"
"Bernie"
"Keep the Lights On"
"Moonrise Kingdom"
"Silver Linings Playbook"

BEST DIRECTOR
Wes Anderson, "Moonrise Kingdom"
Julia Loktev, "The Loneliest Planet"
David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Ira Sachs, "Keep the Lights On"
Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

BEST SCREENPLAY
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, "Moonrise Kingdom"
Zoe Kazan, "Ruby Sparks"
Martin McDonagh, "Seven Psychopaths"
David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Ira Sachs, "Keep the Lights On"

BEST FIRST FEATURE
"Fill the Void"
"Gimme the Loot"
"Safety Not Guaranteed"
"Sound of My Voice"
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Rama Burshtein, "Fill the Void"
Derek Connolly, "Safety Not Guaranteed"
Christopher Ford, "Robot & Frank"
Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, "Celeste and Jesse Forever"
Jonathan Lisecki, "Gayby"

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
(Given to the best feature made for under $500,000)
"Breakfast With Curtis"
"Middle of Nowhere"
"Mosquita y Mari"
"Starlet"
"The Color Wheel"

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Linda Cardellini, "Return"
Emayatzy Corinealdi, "Middle of Nowhere"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, "Smashed"

BEST MALE LEAD
Jack Black, "Bernie"
Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"
John Hawkes, "The Sessions"
Thure Lindhardt, "Keep the Lights On"
Matthew McConaughey, "Killer Joe"
Wendell Pierce, "Four"

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Rosemarie DeWitt, "Your Sister's Sister"
Ann Dowd, "Compliance"
Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"
Brit Marling, "Sound of My Voice"
Lorraine Toussaint, "Middle of Nowhere"

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Matthew McConaughey, "Magic Mike"
David Oyelowo, "Middle of Nowhere"
Michael Péna, "End of Watch"
Sam Rockwell, "Seven Psychopaths"
Bruce Willis, "Moonrise Kingdom"

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Yoni Brook, "Valley of Saints"
Lol Crawley, "Here"
Ben Richardson, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Roman Vasyanov, "End of Watch"
Robert Yeoman, "Moonrise Kingdom"

BEST DOCUMENTARY
"How to Survive a Plague"
"Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present"
"The Central Park Five"
"The Invisible War"
"The Waiting Room"

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
"Amour,"  Michael Haneke
"Once Upon a Time in Anatolia," Nuri Bilge Ceylan
"Rust and Bone," Jacques Audiard
"Sister," Ursula Meier
"War Witch," Kim Nguyen

16th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
(includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget)
"Nobody Walks," Alicia Van Couvering
"Prince Avalanche," Derrick Tseng
"Stones in the Sun," Mynette Louie

19th ANNUAL SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
(includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant)
"Pincus," David Fenster
"Gimme the Loot," Adam Leon
"Electrick Children," Rebecca Thomas

STELLA ARTOIS TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
(includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant)
"Leviathan," Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
"The Waiting Room," Peter Nicks
"Only the Young," Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
(Given to one film's director, casting director and its ensemble cast)
"Starlet"
Director: Sean Baker
Casting director: Julia Kim
Ensemble cast: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Karren Karagulian, Stella Maeve, James Ransone

Related articles from TheWrap:
Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom' Wins Best Feature at Gotham Film Awards
Film Independent Sets Spirit Awards for Feb. 23

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