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Spirit Awards: Emerging and established talents to vie for honors

As the final stop on the awards-show circuit before the Oscars, the Film Independent Spirit Awards serve as both a warm-up for the main event and a chance for some smaller non-Oscar-contenders to step into the spotlight for a moment.

The race for best feature, the Spirit Awards' top honor, includes two Oscar nominees for best picture: the historical drama "12 Years a Slave" and the father-son road movie "Nebraska." The other three candidates are "All Is Lost," about a sailor stranded in a damaged boat; "Frances Ha," about an aspiring dancer; and "Inside Llewyn Davis," about a down-on-his-luck folk singer.

"12 Years a Slave" and "Nebraska" are well represented in other categories as well, with the former having seven nominations to lead all films, and the latter with six. Their directors, Steve McQueen and Alexander Payne, are both nominated for director, along with J.C. Chandor of "All Is Lost," Jeff Nichols of "Mud" and Shane Carruth of "Upstream Color."

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Despite the presence of Oscar hopefuls throughout many of the categories, the Spirit Awards also strive to recognize emerging talents, with categories for first feature and first screenplay, as well as the John Cassavetes Award for a feature made for under $500,000.

The Spirit Awards have also added a new category this year, editing, for which "Upstream Color," "Museum Hours," "Frances Ha," "Una Noche" and "Short Term 12" have been nominated.

The Spirit Awards will be handed out at a luncheon held on the beach in Santa Monica and hosted by actor and comedian Patton Oswalt, who will not be handing out live birds, contrary to prior announcements. The ceremony will be broadcast tonight at 10 p.m. on IFC.

Check back later today for real-time coverage of the ceremony.

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