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Home International CinemaAustralian Cinema Dysfunctional Families & Troubled Teachers: Spirit Awards Nominations

Dysfunctional Families & Troubled Teachers: Spirit Awards Nominations

16 minutes read

Dysfunctional families
Dysfunctional families: Little Miss Sunshine.
Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

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

Spirit Awards: Winners & nominations

Film Independents 22nd Spirit Award nominees were announced by Don Cheadle and Felicity Huffman at the Sofitel Hotel in Los Angeles on Nov. 28. The 22nd Spirit Award winners were announced on Feb. 24.

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 Soderbergh, Bubble

Aaron Eckhart, Thank You For Smoking
* Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Edward Norton, The Painted Veil
Ahmad Razvi, Man Push Cart
Forest Whitaker, American Gun

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

* Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Raymond J. Barry, Steel City
Daniel Craig, Infamous
Paul Dano, Little Miss Sunshine
Channing Tatum, A 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 McDormand, Friends 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 Mantle, Brothers 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 Lives, 10 Items or Less
Alex Orlovsky and Jamie Patricof, Half Nelson, Point&Shoot
* Howard Gertler and Tim Perell, Shortbus, Pizza

David Lynch and Laura Dern for Inland Empire

Robert Altman

Gotham Awards goes to drug-addicted teacher

2006 Gotham Award nominees: Oct. 23. Gotham Award winners: Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers, New York City, on Nov. 29.

Half Nelson (2006) by Ryan Fleck, with Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps

The socially-conscious psychological drama Half Nelson, one of those rare low-budget American films that actually have something to say and that manage to convey their message without condescending to their audience, nabbed three Gotham Awards at a Nov. 29 ceremony held in New York City.

The story of a liberal-minded public school teacher (Ryan Gosling) who tries to impart wisdom and power to his inner-city students while himself trying to escape – through drugs – from his own powerlessness to change the world around him, Half Nelson won awards for Best Film (beating critics’ darling The Departed), Breakthrough Director (Ryan Fleck), and Breakthrough Performer (Shareeka Epps, who shared the award with Babel‘s Rinko Kikuchi.)

James Longley’s well-received Iraq in Fragments was chosen Best Documentary. A rarity among American documentaries on the war in Iraq, which almost invariably focus on American military personnel, Iraq in Fragments portrays the Iraq disaster as seen through the eyes of ordinary Iraqis.

Steve Barron’s Choking Man, the tale of a pathologically shy Ecuadorian man (Octavio Gómez) working as a dishwasher in Queens, won the Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Award, given to American feature films without distribution.

The Babel cast, including nationals from Mexico, Australia, the United States, Japan, and Morocco, was voted the Best Ensemble award.

Additionally, assorted tributes were paid to the likes of Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro, Tim Robbins, and Babel director Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Referring to the controversy surrounding the inclusion of two big-studio productions – Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (Warner Bros.) and Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (Sony Pictures) – among the nominees for the Best Film Gotham Award, host David Cross joked about Scorsese’s crime drama, “How that ever got greenlit I have no idea.”

The Gotham Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards are the two, for lack of a better word, awards (mostly) dedicated to independent American filmmaking.

Gotham Awards

The 16th Gotham Award nominees were announced on Oct. 23.

The 16th Gotham Award winners were announced at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers, New York City, on Nov. 29.

Ryan Gosling plays an idealistic drug-addicted teacher in Ryan Flecks Half Nelson. The character may sound like an walking, talking oxymoron, but he isnt thanks to Goslings superb playing and Flecks careful handling of the material

Best Feature

The Departed
Martin Scorsese, director; Brad Pitt, Brad Grey, Graham King, producers (Warner Bros.)

* Half Nelson
Ryan Fleck, director; Jamie Patricof, Alex Orlovsky, Lynette Howell, Anna Boden, Rosanne Korenberg, producers (ThinkFilm)

Little Children
Todd Field, director; Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Todd Field, producers (New Line Cinema)

Marie Antoinette
Sofia Coppola, director; Ross Katz, Sofia Coppola, producers (Sony Pictures)

Old Joy
Kelly Reichardt, director; Neil Kopp, Lars Knudsen, Jay Van Hoy, Anish Savjani, producers
(Kino International)

Best Documentary

Deliver Us from Evil
Amy Berg, director; Amy Berg, Frank Donner, Hermas Lassalle, Matthew Cooke, producers (Lionsgate)

Following Sean
Ralph Arlyck, director; Ralph Arlyck, Malcolm Pullinger, producers (Upstate Films/Shadow Releasing)

An Inconvenient Truth
Davis Guggenheim, director; Laurie David, Lawrence Bender, Scott Z. Burns, producers
(Paramount Classics & Participant Productions)

* Iraq in Fragments
James Longley, director; James Longley, John Sinno, producers (Typecast Releasing in association with HBO Documentary Films)

Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple
Stanley Nelson, director/producer (Seventh Art Releasing)

Best Ensemble Cast

* Babel
Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho, Adriana Barraza, Rinko Kikuchi, Said Tarchani, Boubker Ait El Caid (Paramount Vantage)

For Your Consideration
Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, Christopher Guest, John Michael Higgins, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Michael McKean, Catherine OHara, Parker Posey, Harry Shearer, Fred Willard
(Warner Independent Pictures)

Little Miss Sunshine
Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)

A Prairie Home Companion
Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, L.Q. Jones, Sue Scott, Tim Russell (Picturehouse)

Sook-Yin Lee, Paul Dawson, Lindsay Beamish, PJ DeBoy, Raphael Barker, Peter Stickles, Jay Brannan, Justin Bond (ThinkFilm)

Breakthrough Director

Ramin Bahrani for Man Push Cart (Films Philos)
Laurie Collyer for Sherrybaby (IFC Films)
* Ryan Fleck for Half Nelson (ThinkFilm)
So Yong Kim for In Between Days
James Marsh for The King (ThinkFilm)

Breakthrough Actor (tie)

Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
* Shareeka Epps in Half Nelson (ThinkFilm)
Melinda Page Hamilton in Sleeping Dogs Lie (Roadside Attractions / Samuel Goldwyn Films)
* Rinko Kikuchi in Babel (Paramount Vantage)
Channing Tatum in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (First Look Pictures)

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You

* Choking Man
Steve Barron, director; Joshua Zeman, Zachary Mortensen, producers

Colma: The Musical
Richard Wong, director; Paul Kolsanoff, Richard Wong, Angel Vasquez, producers

In Between Days
So Yong Kim, director; Bradley Rust Gray, producer

The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief
Jake Clennell, director/producer

Wristcutters: A Love Story
Goran Dukic, director; Adam Sherman, Chris Coen, Tatiana Kelly, Mikal P. Lazarev, producer

Gotham Tribute: Kate Winslet & Edward Norton.

World Cinema Tribute: Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro & Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Humanitarian Tribute: Tim Robbins.

Special Tribute: Todd Wagner & Mark Cuban.

Stockholm Film Festival winners

For only the second time, the Stockholm Film Festival’s Best Film award was presented to a female director, Laurie Collyer, whose feature-film debut, Sherrybaby, took the festival’s top prize and brought star Maggie Gyllenhaal a Best Actress award. Earlier this year, Sherrybaby won those two honors at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

The U.S.-made Sherrybaby tells the story of a former heroin addict who, after serving a three-year jail sentence, tries to prove to herself and to those around her that she can take care of her little daughter.

The Best Actor award went to Canadian-born Ryan Gosling for his superb portrayal of an idealistic drug-addicted New York City high-school teacher in the Ryan Fleck’s Half Nelson, which has been nominated in three categories – including Best Film – for the Gotham (independent American film) Awards. Gosling has already won a Best Actor award the Seattle Film Festival.

The Best Directorial Debut award went to Daniel Sánchez Arévalo for Darkbluealmostblack / Azuloscurocasinegro, a Spanish drama about a young man’s search for his own identity.

Beatrix Christian won the Best Screenplay award for Jindabyne, a psychological drama revolving around family relations, racism, and murder in a small Australian town. Jindabyne has been nominated for 9 Australian Film Institute awards, including Best Film. Directed by Ray Lawrence, it stars Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne.

The Audience Award went to Little Miss Sunshine, the crowd-pleasing (I’m clearly not part of the crowd) American comedy about a dysfunctional – but oh-so-loving – New Mexico family who discovers the profound lesson that life shouldn’t be one beauty pageant after another. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Little Miss Sunshine stars Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, and Steve Carell.

The 2006 Stockholm Film Festival Award was held between Nov. 17-25.

Stockholm Film Festival Awards (partial)

Best Film: Sherrybaby, dir.: Laurie Collyer.

Best Actress: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Sherrybaby.

Best Actor: Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson.

Best Screenplay: Beatrix Christian, Jindabyne.

Best Directorial Debut: Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, Darkbluealmostblack.

Best Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle, The Last King of Scotland.

Best Short Film: Adults Only, dir.: Joon Han Yeo.

Audience Award: Little Miss Sunshine, dir.: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris.

FIPRESCI (International Film Critics) Best Film: Jindabyne, dir.: Ray Lawrence.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Lasse Hallström.

Visionary Award: Darren Aronofsky.

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.

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