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Independent Spirit Award nominees include roster of local film talent

Matthew Odam
modam@statesman.com

A host of Austin filmmakers and the city’s most famous actor received Independent Spirit Award nominations, which were announced today. Jeff Nichols earned a Best Director nomination for his wonderful coming-of-age tale “Mud.” The film starring Matthew McConaughey will also be honored with the annual Robert Altman Award, which is given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast. McConaughey also earned a nomination in the Best Male lead category for his portrayal of Ron Woodroof in the biopic “Dallas Buyers Club.”

The Spirit Awards are familiar territory for Nichols, who was nominated for the same award for his last feature, “Take Shelter,” and was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award for his 2007 feature “Shotgun Stories.” Dallas filmmaker Shane Carruth also received a Best Director nod for his captivating and oblique science-fiction love story “Upstream Color.”

Austin Film Society co-founder Richard Linklater, along with his stars and writing partners Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, earned a nomination for best screenplay for “Before Midnight.” This is Linkater’s seventh Spirit nomination. The trio earned an Oscar nomination for their trilogy’s previous installment, “Before Sunset,” and is positioned for another Oscar nomination next year. Delpy also received a Spirit nomination for Best Female lead. Other Spirit screenplay nominees include Woody Allen for “Blues Jasmine” and Michael H. Weber for “The Spectacular Now.”

Austin filmmakers have a long history with the Cassavetes Award, and the trend continues. Andrew Bujalski’s “Computer Chess” and Yen Tan’s “Pit Stop,” both of which made their world premieres at the Sundance Film Festival, have been nominated for the award given to the best feature made for less than $500,000. “Computer Chess” producers Houston King and Alex Lipschultz, and “Pit Stop” co-writer David Lowery and producers Jonathan Duffy, James M. Johnston, Eric Steele and Kelly Williams share in the Cassavetes nominations. “Computer Chess” cinematographer Matthias Grunsky was also recognized for his work on “Computer Chess,” a film that used old technology to make for a unique visual aesthetic.

Drafthouse Films’ title “The Act of Killing” received a nomination for Best Documentary, and Dallas producers Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston, who produced “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” and “Upstream Color,” earned nominations for the 17th annual Piaget Producers Award. The Best Feature category does not have any Austin representation and includes “12 Years a Slave,” “All is Lost” and “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which will all likely be contenders come Oscar season.

The Independent Spirit Awards will be presented on March 1 in Santa Monica, Cali.