It's getting to be that magical time of year known as Awards Season, when we pause from our daily lives and tell famous people how awesome they are. As usual, the first shot across the bow comes from the Gotham Independent Film Awards, which announced its nominees today and will hand out the trophies on Dec. 2.

Ballast, a much-honored drama about life and death on the Mississippi delta, scored four nominations -- more than anything else -- in the categories of Best Feature, Breakthrough Director (Lance Hammer), Breakthrough Actor (Michael J. Smith Sr.), and Best Ensemble Performance. It's a notable indie film because it's being distributed independently, too, with Hammer having backed out of a deal with IFC Films to release it himself.

The other Best Feature nominees are Frozen River, The Visitor, The Wrestler, and Synecdoche, New York. Synecdoche will have just barely been released when the awards are presented, and The Wrestler won't have come out at all yet. Wins at the Gotham Awards are often seen as boosting a film's chances at the box office and at the Oscars. Juno, Half Nelson, and Junebug were all Gotham winners that went on to find Oscar glory.

For Best Documentary, the nominees are Chris & Don: A Love Story, Encounters at the End of the World, Man on Wire, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, and Trouble the Water.

Gotham's website hasn't been udpated to include the full list of nominees yet (there's just a PDF press release), but Variety has the whole rundown here.