Surprise box office smash "Little Miss Sunshine" and underwatched gem "Half Nelson" were are the leading contenders for the Independent Spirit Awards.
The nominees for the 2007 Independent Spirit Awards, the first major kudos announcement of the fall, were revealed on Tuesday (Nov. 28) morning, with "Sunshine" and "Nelson" picking up five nods apiece.
The dysfunctional comedy and the dysfunctional drama will compete in the best feature category opposite "American Gun," "The Dead Girl" and "Pan's Labyrinth." And the directors of the two films -- Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris for "Sunshine" and Ryan Fleck for "Half Nelson" -- will battle in the helming category against Karen Moncrief ("The Dead Girl"), Steven Soderbergh ("Bubble") and Robert Altman ("A Prairie Home Companion").
In addition to those major nods, "Sunshine" got recognized for supporting actors Alan Arkin and Paul Dano, as well as for Michael Arndt's nom in the best first screenplay category.
Other nominations for "Half Nelson" included leading actor Ryan Gosling and lead actress Shareeka Epps, as well as a best first screenplay nod for Fleck and Anna Boden.
Joining Epps in the best female lead category are Catherine O'Hara ("For Your Consideration"), Elizabeth Reaser ("Sweet Land"), Michelle Williams ("Land of Plenty") and Robin Wright Penn ("Sorry, Haters"). Gosling's competition will be Aaron Eckhart ("Thank You For Smoking"), Edward Norton ("The Painted Veil"), Ahmad Razvi ("Man Push Cart") and Forest Whitaker ("American Gun").
A complete list of nominations is, of course, available at the IFC website.
The Independent Spirit Awards will be presented on Feb. 24, the day before the Oscars.
'Sunshine,' 'Nelson' Lead Indie Spirit Noms
Best picture rivals include 'Pan's Labyrinth'
Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell and Paul Dano in 'Little Miss Sunshine'