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'Amazing' Graced with Six Spirit Noms

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The nominating committee for the 2003 IFP Independent Spirit Awards found Nicole Holofcener's "Lovely & Amazing" to be just that, honoring the Lions Gate Films release with a total of six nominations, including mentions for best feature, best director and best female lead for Catherine Keener.

The indie drama, following the story of a family of women in Los Angeles, additionally helped boost Lions Gate to lead all distributors with 10 nominations. Runners-up included Fox Searchlight, with seven nominations, and Focus Features, with five.

Joining "Lovely" in the best feature category were Focus' "Far From Heaven," Searchlight's "The Good Girl," Lions Gate's "Secretary" and filmmaker Hilary Birmingham's "Tully."

Said Lions Gate's distribution head Tom Ortenberg: "The Spirit nominations are great validation for Nicole Holofcener and 'Lovely & Amazing' in the truest independent spirit."

Added Emily Mortimer, who received a best supporting female nomination for her role in "Lovely": "It's brilliant. I've never been nominated for anything except for best kept garden."

On a more serious note, the British-born Mortimer said that she so responded to the Holofcener project that she hired a dialect coach to perfect a Los Angeles accent, spending more money on the coach than she earned for the part. "I'm so proud of the film, and it's such an ensemble movie so it's great to see the nominations spread around to everyone who worked so hard on it."

Best director nods went to Holofcener, Joe Carnahan ("Narc"), Todd Haynes ("Far From Heaven"), Bernard Rose ("ivans xtc.") and Gus Van Sant ("Gerry").

"Lovely's" Keener is nominated for best female lead against Maggie Gyllenhaal for "Secretary," Julianne Moore for "Far From Heaven," Parker Posey for "Personal Velocity" and "The Good Girl's" Jennifer Aniston.

This month, Moore grabbed the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures' award for best actress in "Heaven," in which she plays a 1950s Connecticut housewife (HR 12/5). Focus Features co-head David Linde said of Moore's awards season roll thus far: "'Far From Heaven' is a wonderfully emotional film, and everyone at Focus Features feels really gratified by the IFP's recognition."

Focus further celebrated "Lovely & Amazing's" fortunes as the Universal specialty arm is that film's international distributor.

Said "Secretary" director Steven Shainberg of Gyllenhaal's nomination: "Independent movies are such an important part of the American film landscape, and the list this year is really of films made outside the system. Every year a film like 'Boys Don't Cry' and a performance like Hillary Swank's emerges and I think (Maggie Gyllenhaal's) is on that level."

Fresh from an NBR win this month as best actor in Artisan Entertainment's "Roger Dodger," Campbell Scott nabbed a Spirit nomination for best male lead. The category was rounded out by Graham Greene ("Skins"), Danny Huston ("ivans xtc."), Derek Luke ("Antwone Fisher") and Jeremy Renner ("Dahmer").

Said Scott, who also executive produced "Dodger": "It feels rather shocking. My ultimate goal--with my producer's cap on--is that more people will see the movie. So ultimately, if it makes people pay attention to what is really a tiny film, that will be the real award."

The nominations were announced Wednesday morning at a rooftop press conference held at L'Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills by actors Carrie-Anne Moss, Isaiah Washington, Mena Suvari and Anthony LaPaglia. The IFP's national membership of 9,000 will vote on the winners, to be unveiled at the IFP Independent Spirit Awards ceremony March 22. Filmmaker John Waters returns for a third consecutive year as emcee for the event, held in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica.

The executive director of IFP/Los Angeles, Dawn Hudson, said she's proud of this year's crop of nominees, adding the list contains more female directors, more films without distribution and more digitally shot entries than in years past. "The nominations represent the depth of talent from the indie film world this year," Hudson said. "And the films are telling very personal stories, very complex characters and are just solid films on all levels, from lower budget to higher budgets."

Bill Condon--who penned the movie musical "Chicago" for Miramax Films--served as chair of this year's nominating committee, which also included Hudson, cinematographer John Bailey, documentarian Randy Barbato, film programmer Dennis Bartok, filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko, casting director Aisha Coley, producer Jeff Kleeman, filmmaker Karyn Kusama, producer Gail Mutrux, writer Jose Rivera, actress Michelle Rodriguez, the Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan and Washington.

The awards ceremony will be broadcast on cabler IFC.

In the Spirits' best supporting female category, "Lovely's" Mortimer was joined by Viola Davis ("Antwone Fisher"), Jacqueline Kim ("Charlotte Sometimes"), Juliette Lewis ("Hysterical Blindness") and "Tully's" Julianne Nicholson.

Best supporting males are: Alan Arkin ("Thirteen Conversations About One Thing"), Ray Liotta ("Narc"), Dennis Quaid ("Far From Heaven"), John C. Reilly ("The Good Girl") and Peter Weller ("ivans xtc.")

Vying for best screenplay honors will be Holofcener, Mike White ("The Good Girl"), Dylan Kidd ("Roger Dodger"), Jill and Karen Sprecher ("Thirteen Conversations About One Thing") and Hilary Birmingham and Matt Drake ("Tully").

Best first screenplay nominations were doled out to Laura Cahill ("Hysterical Blindness"), Burr Steers ("Igby Goes Down"), Neil Burger ("Interview with the Assassin"), Heather Juergensen and Jennifer Westfeldt ("Kissing Jessica Stein") and Erin Cressida Wilson ("Secretary").

Best first feature nominations went to "Dodger's" Kidd, "Assassin's" Burger, Peter Care ("The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys"), Eric Eason ("Manito") and Charles Stone III ("Paid in Full").

Bob Burrus ("Tully"), America Ferrera ("Real Women Have Curves"), Raven Goodwin ("Lovely & Amazing"), Artel Kayaru ("Dahmer") and Nia Vardalos ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding") all received nominations for best debut performance.

Best cinematography nominations went to: Edward Lachman ("Far From Heaven"), Harris Savides ("Gerry"), Richard Rutkowski ("Interview with the Assassin"), Alex Nepomniaschy ("Narc") and Ellen Kuras ("Personal Velocity").

Best foreign film nominations were handed out to Paul Greengrass' "Bloody Sunday," Zacharias Kunuk's "The Fast Runner" (Atanarjuat), Michael Haneke's "The Piano Teacher" (La Pianiste), Laurent Cantet's "Time Out" (L'Emploi du temps) and Alfonso Cuaron's "Y Tu Mama Tambien." Documentary nominations for the Spirit awards went to Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine," Bill Weber and David Weissman's "The Cockettes," Lucy Walker's "Devil's Playground," John Walter's "How to Draw a Bunny" and Steve James' "Stevie."

Other awards nominations were handed out for the Motorola Producers Award, John Cassavetes Award, Turning Leaf Coastal Reserve Someone to Watch Award and DIRECTV / IFC Truer Than Fiction Award.

2003 IFP INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARD NOMINATIONS BY CATEGORY

A complete list of the 2003 IFP Independent Spirit Awards nominees follows:

FEATURE (Award given to the producer.)

(*Executive producers are not listed.)

"Far From Heaven," Producers: Jody Patton, Christine Vachon

"The Good Girl," Producer: Matthew Greenfield

"Lovely & Amazing," Producers: Anthony Bregman, Eric d'Arbeloff, Ted Hope

"Secretary," Producers: Andrew Fierberg, Amy Hobby, Steven Shainberg

"Tully," Producers: Hilary Birmingham, Annie Sundberg

DIRECTOR

Joe Carnahan, "Narc"

Todd Haynes, "Far From Heaven"

Nicole Holofcener, "Lovely & Amazing"

Bernard Rose, "ivans xtc."

Gus Van Sant, "Gerry"

SCREENPLAY

"The Good Girl," Mike White

"Lovely & Amazing," Nicole Holofcener

"Roger Dodger," Dylan Kidd

"Thirteen Conversations About One Thing," Jill Sprecher and Karen Sprecher

"Tully," Hilary Birmingham and Matt Drake

FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director)

"The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys," Director: Peter Care

"Interview With the Assassin," Director: Neil Burger

"Manito," Director: Eric Eason

"Paid in Full," Director: Charles Stone III

"Roger Dodger," Director: Dylan Kidd

FIRST SCREENPLAY

"Hysterical Blindness," Laura Cahill

"Igby Goes Down," Burr Steers

"Interview With the Assassin," Neil Burger

"Kissing Jessica Stein," Heather Juergensen and Jennifer Westfeldt

"Secretary," Erin Cressida Wilson

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (Given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer)

(*Executive Producers are not listed.)

"Charlotte Sometimes," Director/Writer: Eric Byler, Producers: Marc Ambrose, Eric Byler

"Dahmer," Director/Writer: David Jacobson, Producer: Larry Rattner

"ivans xtc.," Director: Bernard Rose, Writers: Lisa Enos and Bernard Rose, Producer: Lisa Enos

"Personal Velocity," Director/Writer: Rebecca Miller, Producers: Alexis Alexanian, Lemore Syvan, Gary Winick

"The Slaughter Rule," Directors/Writers: Alex Smith and Alex Smith, Producers: Gregory O'Connor, Michael Robinson

DEBUT PERFORMANCE (Actors in their first significant role in a feature film)

Bob Burrus, "Tully"

America Ferrera, "Real Women Have Curves"

Raven Goodwin, "Lovely & Amazing"

Artel Kayaru, "Dahmer"

Nia Vardalos, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"

SUPPORTING FEMALE

Viola Davis, "Antwone Fisher"

Jacqueline Kim, "Charlotte Sometimes"

Juliette Lewis, "Hysterical Blindness"

Emily Mortimer, "Lovely & Amazing"

Julianne Nicholson, "Tully"

SUPPORTING MALE

Alan Arkin, "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing"

Ray Liotta, "Narc"

Dennis Quaid, "Far From Heaven"

John C. Reilly, "The Good Girl"

Peter Weller, "ivans xtc."

FEMALE LEAD

Jennifer Aniston, "The Good Girl"

Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Secretary"

Catherine Keener, "Lovely & Amazing"

Julianne Moore, "Far From Heaven"

Parker Posey, "Personal Velocity"

MALE LEAD

Graham Greene, "Skins"

Danny Huston, "ivans xtc."

Derek Luke, "Antwone Fisher"

Jeremy Renner, "Dahmer"

Campbell Scott, "Roger Dodger"

CINEMATOGRAPHY

"Far From Heaven," Edward Lachman

"Gerry," Harris Savides

"Interview With the Assassin," Richard Rutkowski

"Narc," Alex Nepomniaschy

"Personal Velocity," Ellen Kuras

FOREIGN FILM (Award given to the director)

"Bloody Sunday" -- Ireland, Director: Paul Greengrass

"The Fast Runner" (Atanarjuat) -- Canada, Director: Zacharias Kunuk

"The Piano Teacher" (La Pianiste) -- France, Director: Michael Haneke

"Time Out (L'Emploi du temps)" -- France, Director: Laurent Cantet

"Y Tu Mama Tambien -- Mexico, Director: Alfonso Cuaron

DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director)

"Bowling for Columbine," Director: Michael Moore

"The Cockettes," Directors: Bill Weber and David Weissman

"Devil's Playground," Director: Lucy Walker

"How to Draw a Bunny," Director: John Walter

"Stevie," Director: Steve James

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