Dysfunctional Families & Troubled Teachers: Spirit Awards Nominations

Dysfunctional families
Dysfunctional families: Little Miss Sunshine.

With five nods each, the crowd-pleasing dysfunctional family comedy Little Miss Sunshine (US$59 million at the U.S. and Canada box office) and the socio-psychological drama Half Nelson ($2.7 million at the U.S. and Canada box office) led the pack of the 2006 nominees for the Independent Spirit Awards. In addition to its five nods, Half Nelson was listed (along with Point&Shoot) as Producer Award nominees Alex Orlovsky and Jamie Patricof's two representative films.

Both Little Miss Sunshine and Half Nelson received nominations for Best Film (or, per the official category title, Best Feature), Director (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, and Ryan Fleck, respectively) and First Screenplay (Michael Arndt, and Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, respectively).

Surprisingly, Little Miss Sunshine's much-touted Abigail Breslin failed to show up among the nominees, though veteran Alan Arkin and Paul Dano were both listed in the Best Supporting Actor (or, officially, Supporting Male) category. (Perhaps Breslin was the victim of a lead vs. supporting vote split.)

As expected, Ryan Gosling, the idealistic drug-addicted teacher in Half Nelson, is one of the five actors vying for the “Male Lead” award. But the “Female Lead” nomination for Shareeka Epps, the inner-city girl in the same film, came as a surprise for her role is considerably smaller than Gosling's.

(In one of those bizarre listings so beloved by award-giving groups, Amber Tamblyn, clearly the lead in Stephanie Daley – the actress, in fact, plays the title role – received a “Supporting Female” nod. Either way, Tamblyn is outstanding as the mother who may or may not have killed her newborn.)

Other Best Film nominees are Aric Avelino's look at gun madness, American Gun; Karen Moncrieff's psychological mystery thriller The Dead Girl; and Guillermo del Toro's violent political fantasy El laberinto del fauno / Pan's Labyrinth.

A Spanish-language Mexican-Spanish-American co-production, written and directed by Mexican del Toro, set in Spain, and starring a cast of mostly Spanish performers, Pan's Labyrinth curiously managed to be included as an American film. Del Toro's nightmarish fantasy is Mexico's submission for the 79th Academy Awards.

I hope the two foreign-language films I haven't seen – Auraeus Solito's dramatic comedy Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros / The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (The Philippines) and Adrián Caetano's political drama Crónica de una fuga / Chronicle of an Escape (Argentina) are (considerably) better than the three I've seen: Rachid Bouchareb's socially conscious war melodrama Indigènes / Days of Glory (France / Morocco / Algeria / Belgium), Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's political melodrama Das Leben der Anderen / The Lives of Others (Germany), and Corneliu Porumboiu's dry political satire A fost sau n-a fost? / 12:08 East of Bucharest. (Missing in Action: Pedro Almodóvar's Volver.)

Das Leben der Anderen has been nominated for Best European Film at the European Film Awards, while A fost sau n-a fost? has been listed in the Best Screenwriter (Porumboiu) category.

Recently deceased filmmaker Robert Altman's name was included among the nominees for the Director award – for his folksy dud A Prairie Home Companion – while Film Independent showed that its members have either a warped sense of humor or a warped sense of reality by placing Michael Winterbottom's and Mat Whitecross' docudrama The Road to Guantanamo in the “Documentary” category.

The 6,000 Film Independent members will pick the winners, who will be be announced on Feb. 24, 2007, the day before the Academy Awards ceremony.

Full list of nominees for the 2006 Independent Spirit Awards

22nd Spirit Awards - 2006

Film Independents 22nd Spirit Award nominees were announced by Don Cheadle and Felicity Huffman at the Sofitel Hotel in Los Angeles on Nov. 28, 2006.

The 22nd Spirit Award winners were announced on February 24, 2007.

BEST FILM (Award given to the Producer)
American Gun, Ted Kroeber, producer
The Dead Girl, Tom Rosenberg, Henry Winterstern, Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright, Eric Karten, Kevin Turen, producers
Half Nelson, Jamie Patricof, Alex Orlovsky, Lynette Howell, Anna Boden, Rosanne Korenberg, producers
* Little Miss Sunshine, Marc Turtletaub, David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf, Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, producers
El Laberinto del fauno / Pan's Labyrinth, Bertha Navarro, Alfonso Cuaron, Frida Torresblanco, Alvaro Augustin, Guillermo Del Toro, producers

BEST FOREIGN FILM (Award given to the director)
A fost sau n-a fost? / 12:08 East of Bucharest, (Romania); Corneliu Porumboiu, director
Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros / The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, (Philippines); Auraeus Solito, director
Crónica de una fuga / Chronicle of an Escape, (Argentina); Israel Adrián Caetano, director
Indigènes / Days of Glory, (France/Morocco/Algeria/Belgium); Rachid Bouchareb, director
* Das Leben der Anderen / The Lives of Others, (Germany); Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, director

BEST FIRST FEATURE FILM (Award given to the director and producer)
Day Night Day Night, Julia Loktev, director; Julia Loktev, Melanie Judd, Jessica Levin, producers
Man Push Cart, Ramin Bahrani, director; Ramin Bahrani, Pradip Ghosh, Bedford T. Bentley III, producers
The Motel, Michael Kang, director; Matthew Greenfield, Miguel Arteta, Gina Kwon, Karin Chien, producers
* Sweet Land, Ali Selim, director; Alan Cumming, James Bigham, Ali Selim, producers
Wristcutters: A Love Story, Goran Dukic, director; Adam Sherman, Chris Coen, Tatiana Kelly, Mikal P. Lazarev, producers

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director)
A Lion in the House, Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert, directors
My Country, My Country, Laura Poitras, director
* The Road to Guantanamo, Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross, directors
The Trials of Darryl Hunt, Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, directors
Youre Gonna Miss Me, Keven McAlester, director

Robert Altman, A Prairie Home Companion
* Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, Little Miss Sunshine
Ryan Fleck, Half Nelson
Karen Moncrieff, The Dead Girl
Steven SoderberghBubble

Aaron EckhartThank You For Smoking
* Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Edward NortonThe Painted Veil
Ahmad Razvi, Man Push Cart
Forest WhitakerAmerican Gun

* Shareeka Epps, Half Nelson
Catherine OHara, For Your Consideration
Elizabeth ReaserSweet Land
Michelle WilliamsLand of Plenty
Robin Wright Penn, Sorry, Haters

* Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Raymond J. BarrySteel City
Daniel CraigInfamous
Paul Dano, Little Miss Sunshine
Channing TatumA Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

Melonie Diaz, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
Marcia Gay Harden, American Gun
Mary Beth Hurt, The Dead Girl
* Frances McDormandFriends with Money
Amber Tamblyn, Stephanie Daley

Neil Burger, The Illusionist
Nicole Holofcener, Friends with Money
Ron Nyswaner, The Painted Veil
* Jason Reitman, Thank You for Smoking
Jeff Stanzler, Sorry, Haters

* Michael Arndt, Little Miss Sunshine
Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, Half Nelson
Goran Dukic, Wristcutters: A Love Story
Dito Montiel, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
Gabrielle Zevin, Conversations with Other Women

Arin Crumley, Four Eyed Monsters
Anthony Dod MantleBrothers of the Head
* Guillermo Navarro, El Laberinto del fauno / Pan's Labyrinth
Aaron Platt, Wild Tigers I Have Known
Michael Simmonds, Man Push Cart

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (Given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer)
Chalk, Mike Akel, director; Mike Akel, Angela Alvarez, Graham Davidson, Chris Mass, producers; Chris Mass & Mike Akel, writers
Four Eyed Monsters, Arin Crumley & Susan Buice, writer/director/producers
Old Joy, Kelly Reichardt, director; Lars Knudsen, Jay Van Hoy, Anish Savjani, Neil Kopp, producers; Jon Raymond & Kelly Reichardt, writers
* Quinceañera, Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland, writer/directors; Anne Clements, producer
Twelve and Holding, Michael Cuesta, director; Leslie Urdang, Michael Cuesta, Brian Bell, Jenny Schweitzer, producers; Anthony S. Cipriano, writer

So Yong Kim, In Between Days
* Julia Loktev, Day Night Day Night
Richard Wong, Colma: The Musical

AJ Schnack, Kurt Cobain: About a Son
* Adele Horne, The Tailenders
Eric Daniel Metzgar, The Chances of the World Changing

Julie Lynn, Nine Lives10 Items or Less
Alex Orlovsky and Jamie Patricof, Half NelsonPoint&Shoot
* Howard Gertler and Tim Perell, ShortbusPizza

David Lynch and Laura Dern for Inland Empire

Robert Altman

Heath Ledger Movie Up for Australian Film Institute Awards

We've added the list of nominees for the Australian Film Institute's L'Oréal Paris 2006 AFI Awards. The awards, a sort of Australian Oscars-cum-Emmys, cover narrative feature films, shorts, documentaries, and television programs.

Below are the four nominees in the Best Film category:

Directed by (non-nominee) Neil Armfield, Candy received a total of 8 nods. The film stars nominees Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish as a heroin-addicted couple whose lives rapidly go on a tailspin. Geoffrey Rush was also nominated as Best Supporting Actor. (He and Cornish won in their respective categories at the Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards.) Candy also won the Best Adapted Screenplay Award (Armfield and Luke Davies) from the Australian Writers' Guild. Earlier this year, it was shown in competition at the Berlin Film Festival.

Set in a small New South Wales town, Ray Lawrence's psychological drama Jindabyne revolves around a woman who begins to question her relationship with her husband after he, during a fishing trip with friends, discovers the body of a murdered girl but – busy with his fishing – fails to report it to the police until days later. Stars Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne received two of the film's 9 nominations.

Clayton Jacobson's box office hit Kenny, a mockumentary about a dedicated deliverer of portable johns and all-around defecation expert, received 6 nods, including Best Actor (Clayton's real-life brother Shane Jacobson) and Original Screenplay (for the two Jacobson brothers; their father, Ronald Jacobson, received a Best Supporting Actor nod).

Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr's Ten Canoes, about conflicts between ancient tribes of Australian aborigines and Australia's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, received 7 nominations. Ten Canoes has already won the Best Film Award from the Film Critics Circle of Australia.

Strangely, the AFI's most nominated film, Suburban Mayhem, failed to be included in the Best Film shortlist, though director Paul Goldman did manage a nomination. Suburban Mayhem, the story of a troubled 19-year-old girl who decides to kill her unresponsive father, received a total of 12 nods, including Best Actress (Emily Barclay).

The AFI winners will be announced in two stages: at a “craft” ceremony on Dec. 6, and at an awards dinner on Dec. 7.

Full list of nominees for the Australian Film Institute's L'Oréal Paris 2006 AFI Awards

The Road Movie'The Road.'

'The Road' Movie, 'Journey from the Fall': Asian Festival of 1st Films 2006 Best Film nominees

As its title clearly states, the Asian Festival of 1st Films consists of first feature-film efforts by filmmakers from Asian countries (or “semi-Asian” countries, such as Armenia and Cyprus) – in addition to filmmakers of Asian descent. Also: all nominees for the Asian Festival of 1st Films Awards are supposed to be first timers in their respective categories.

In 2006, the four nominees in the Asian Festival of 1st Films' Best Film category are the following:

  • Nishikant S. Kamat's Dombivali Fast (India), which, according to its website, tells “the story of [an] every man who journeys to and fro everyday, trapped in metal boxes [in this case the Dombivali Fast train], trying to beat the monstrosity he himself created.”
  • Zhang Jiarui's The Road / Fangxiang zhi lu (China), about the lives of a provincial bus driver and his wife through four decades of recent Chinese history.
  • Ham Tran's U.S.-made, Vietnamese-language Journey from the Fall, which follows a Vietnamese family struggling to remain together after the fall of Saigon.
  • Robin Moran's Maskot (Indonesia), about a man who, in order to inherit the family business, must find a new chicken mascot for his family's company logo printed on ketchup bottles.

Note: Zhang Jiarui has directed three previous feature films, but The Road marks his debut as a film producer. That's why it received a Best Film nomination, though Jiarui himself was ineligible for the Best Director Award. The winners of the 2006 Asian Festival of 1st Films Awards will be announced on December 6, 2006.

Full list of 2006 Asian Festival of 1st Films nominations and winners

Dombivali Fast, producer: Ramakant S Gaikwad (India)
* The Road / Fangxiang zhi lu, producer: Zhang Jiarui (China)
Journey from the Fall, producer: Lam Nguyen; director: Ham Tran (USA)
Maskot, producers: Robin Moran and Ari M Syarip (Indonesia)

* Dombivali Fast,  Ramakant S Gaikwad (India)
The Road, Zhang Jiarui (China)
* Journey from the Fall, Lam Nguyen (USA)
Men Suddenly in Black 2, Teresa Mo (Hong Kong)

* Dombivali Fast, Nishikant S Kamat (India)
Bliss, Sheng Zhimin (China)
A Bite of Love, Siwaporn Pongsuwan (Thailand)
* Journey from the Fall, Ham Tran (USA)

Bliss, He Xing-quan (China)
Becoming Royston, Alvin Neo (Singapore)
* The Road in the Air, Le Go (Taiwan)

* Gangster, Kangana Ranaut (India)
Bliss, Guan Jinag-ge (China)
Journey from the Fall, Diem Lien (USA)
Sringaram - Dance of Love, Aditi Rao Hydari (India)

*  The Road, Zhang Jiarui (China)
Maskot, Robin Moran, Ari M Syarip, Joko Nugroho (Indonesia)
Go Go G-Boys, Da Yi Li, Chang Lee Shamolo (Taiwan)
Becoming Royston, Nicholas Chee, Terence Teo (Singapore)

Becoming Royston, Ken Minehan (Singapore)
* Omkara, Tassaduq Hussain (India)
* Gangster, Bobby Singh (India)
Lost or Found, Nitin Bal Chauhan (India)

Bagher Baccha, producers: Bishnu Dev Halder / Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute (India)
* One Show Less, producer: Nayantara Kotian (India)
A Hero's Journey, producer: Grace Phan (Singapore)
House No. 103, producer: Ohad Domb (Israel)

* Banana in a Nutshell, Roseanne Liang (New Zealand)
Jonathan, Adi Helman (Israel)
Don't Cry, Cheng Gong (China)
All About Our Mothers, Manak Matiyani, Kuber Sharma (India)

The Road

 In this instance, both the film's producer and director were listed as nominees.

2006 Asian Festival of 1st Films Jury: Cinematographer Volker Langhoff (Germany), filmmaker and writer Michael Yorke (United Kingdom), director Ketan Mehta (India), producer and screenwriter James V. Hart (United States), and actress Cecilia Yip (Hong Kong).

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