I was going to headline this post with something about 'being there in spirit,' but I decided that's a lame way to start things off. Obviously, I'm being lame anyway by pointing out that I wasn't going to begin that way, while in effect beginning that way. So, why don't we just get to the news about the Independent Spirit Award nominations, shall we?

Todd Hayne's I'm Not Therereceived four nominations, including one each for Cate Blanchett and Marcus Carl Franklin, who are up for supporting actress and supporting actor, respectively, for their semi-portrayals of Bob Dylan. The film was also recognized in the Best Feature category, in which it's competing against Juno, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Paranoid Park and A Mighty Heart, and Haynes was nominated for Best Director, going up against Jason Reitman (Juno), Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), Gus Van Sant (Paranoid Park) and Tamara Jenkins (The Savages) -- meaning A Mighty Heart's Michael Winterbottom was shut out despite his film's receiving the Best Feature nomination. I'm Not There is already the winner of one Independent Spirit Award, the newly conceived, and appropriately titled Robert Altman Award, which honors the film's director, casting director and ensemble cast. Because of that win, I'm Not There has been labeled the leader of the nominated films, although Juno, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and The Savages all received the same amount of actual nominations as Haynes' film.

Since I haven't seen any of the major nominees (yet), I will take this opportunity to celebrate a few films, which I have seen, that have been deservedly recognized in other categories. First, I'm excited to see that Adrienne Shelly is up for Best Screenplay for Waitress. I doubt she'll win, unless enough voters want to further highlight her posthumous success, but I'm happy to see her included. I'm delighted to see Jennifer Jason Leigh nominated for Margot at the Wedding, considering Nicole Kidman, who wasn't nominated, has been receiving most of that film's accolades. And finally, I am ecstatic to see that Vanaja, which I loved, has been given two nominations, one for Best First Feature and one for Best Cinematography. Overall, we should all be glad that this year's crop of nominees includes few huge stars, Angelina Jolie being the one major exception, in the acting categories. The 2008 Independent Spirit Awards will be presented on February 23.