“The Squid and the Whale,” a low-budget dramatic film about a family torn apart by divorce, led the list of contenders Tuesday for the Independent Spirit Awards, the American art-house world’s version of the Oscars.
The film scored six nominations, ahead of higher-profile entries based on true stories such as the Truman Capote biopic “Capote” and director George Clooney’s red-scare witch-hunt saga “Good Night, and Good Luck,” which picked up four each.
Also landing four nods each were the gay-cowboy drama “Brokeback Mountain” and director Tommy Lee Jones’ “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.”
The Spirit Awards, now in their 21st year, honor low-budget films based on such criteria as original, provocative subject matter and the degree of independent financing. Winners will be unveiled March 4, the day before the Academy Awards.
There is usually some crossover among nominees for the two events, but little common ground among the winners. Last year, the comedy “Sideways” swept the Spirit Awards, winning all six categories in which it was nominated. The next day, it was vying for five Oscars, but won just the adapted screenplay prize.
“The Squid and the Whale” stars Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney as a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. Both received Spirit Award nominations, as did Noah Baumbach for his script and direction, and youngster Jesse Eisenberg for his supporting role.
Dawn Hudson, executive director of event organizer Film Independent, hailed the “complete authenticity” of the script.
“We don’t see an honest film about divorce from a kid’s point of view,” she said.
The film will also compete for best feature against “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote,” “Good Night, and Good Luck” and “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.”
Film Independent, formerly known as the Independent Film Project/West, helps promote independent filmmakers and their works.