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Saturday December 14th, 2019 2:23PM

‘Uncut Gems,’ ‘The Lighthouse’ top Spirit Awards nominations

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — Josh and Benny Safdie’s Diamond District crime film “Uncut Gems” and Robert Eggers’ fever-dream period tale “The Lighthouse” led the 35th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards with five nods each, in nominations announced Thursday in Los Angeles.

The Spirit Awards, which honor films with budgets below $22.5 million, are the premier ceremony for indie film, held annually in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, Calif., on the day before the Oscars.

With some of this year’s top Academy Awards nominees expected to include bigger budgeted films like “The Irishman” and “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood,” that left room for movies like Lulu Wang’s family drama “The Farewell,” Joe Talbot’s anguished gentrification tale “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” and the Shia LaBeouf memory piece “Honey Boy” to rack up multiple nominations.

The nominees for best feature are: Noah Baumbach’s divorce drama “Marriage Story,” Terrence Malick’s World War II epic “A Hidden Life,” Chinonye Chukwu’s prison drama “Clemency,” “The Farewell” and “Uncut Gems.”

“Marriage Story” will be given the Spirits’ ensemble award, dubbed the Robert Altman Award. The honor means its actors, including stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, weren’t eligible for individual nominations.

Baumbach’s screenplay was also nominated.

Independent distributor A24 dominated with 18 nominations, including those for “Uncut Gems,” “The Lighthouse,” “The Farewell” and “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.” Those included acting nominations for “Uncut Gems” lead Adam Sandler, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as early 19th century Maine lighthouse keepers in “The Lighthouse” and Zhao Shuzhen as the grandmother of “The Farewell.”

Renee Zellweger, among this year’s Oscar favorites for her Judy Garland in “Judy,” was nominated for best female lead alongside Karen Allen (“Colewell”), Hong Chau (“Driveways”), Elisabeth Moss (“Her Smell”), Mary Kay Place (“Diane”) and Alfre Woodward (“Clemency”).

Joining Pattinson and Sandler in best male lead are Kelvin Harrison Jr. (“Luce”), Chris Galust (the microbudget “Give Me Liberty”) and Matthias Schoenaerts (“The Mustang”).

Jennifer Lopez was nominated for best supporting female performance for the stripper-heist drama “Hustlers,” which also landed a nod for director Lorene Scafaria. Octavia Spencer (“Luce”), Lauren Spencer (“Give Me Liberty”) and Taylor Russell (“Waves”) rounded out the category.

Both LaBeouf and Noah Jupe were nominated in the supporting male actor category for “Honey Boy.” The film’s director, Alma Har’el, was also nominated. Also up for supporting actor are Jonathan Majors (“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”) and Wendell Pierce (“Burning Cane”).

The Spirits’ Bonnie Award, a $50,000 grant given to a mid-career female director will go to one of three finalists: Wang, Marielle Heller (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”) and Kelly Reichardt, whose latest film is “First Cow.”

The John Cassavetes Award, given to the best feature made for under $500,000, will go to Kirill Mikhanovsky’s “Give Me Liberty.”

The nominees were announced in a press conference by actresses Zazie Beetz and Natasha Lyonne, and chosen by a committee of about 50. Winners will be decided by the 6,000-plus members of Film Independent. Last year, Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” won best feature.

The Spirit Awards will be held Feb. 8 and broadcast on IFC.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on www.twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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