LOS ANGELES – The divorce tale "The Squid and the Whale" led contenders Tuesday for the Independent Spirit Awards with six nominations, including best-picture and honors for director Noah Baumbach and actors Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney.
The other best-picture nominees were the cowboy tales "Brokeback Mountain" and "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" and the film biographies "Capote" and "Good Night, and Good Luck." Those four movies all had four nominations each for the awards, which honor films whose financing comes at least partly from independent sources outside the Hollywood studio system.
Daniels was nominated for lead actor and Linney for lead actress as parents going through a caustic divorce in "The Squid and the Whale," inspired by writer-director Baumbach's own parents' breakup in the 1980s.
Jesse Eisenberg scored a supporting-actor nomination as Daniels and Linney's son, while Baumbach was nominated for directing and his screenplay.
Other lead-actor nominees were Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in "Capote," a chronicle of the author's years creating the true-crime novel "In Cold Blood"; Terrence Howard as a pimp and drug dealer trying to build a rap career in "Hustle & Flow"; Heath Ledger as a family man carrying on a gay affair with an old ranch buddy in "Brokeback Mountain"; and David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow in "Good Night, and Good Luck," an account of the newsman's battle against the communist witch hunt in the 1950s.
Also among lead-actress contenders were Felicity Huffman in a gender-bending role in "Transamerica," a road-trip tale about a man preparing for the final surgical procedures to become a woman; Dina Korzun as a Russian woman married to a rock 'n' roll legend who becomes involved with her husband's son in "Forty Shades of Blue"; S. Epatha Merkerson as proprietor of a boarding house who takes in an outcast teen in "Lackawanna Blues"; and Cyndi Williams in "Room," about a Texas woman who goes in search of a mysterious place she sees in visions.
The nonprofit group Film Independent, which sponsors the awards, will announce winners March 4, the night before the Academy Awards.
Along with Eisenberg, supporting-actor nominees were Firdous Bamji for "The War Within," about a Middle Eastern man involved in a terrorist plot in New York City; Matt Dillon as a bigoted cop in the ensemble drama "Crash"; Barry Pepper as a Border Patrol agent who kills a Mexican immigrant and is forced by the victim's friend to dig up the body for reburial in Mexico in "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada"; and Jeffrey Wright as a man who sends his neighbor on a quest to find the son he never knew in "Broken Flowers."
The lead actors in the latter two movies — Tommy Lee Jones in "Three Burials" and Bill Murray in "Broken Flowers" — were shut out of the nominations. Jones also directed "Three Burials" but missed out in the directing category, too.
Supporting-actress picks were Amy Adams as a Southern waif captivated by her new sister-in-law from up north in "Junebug"; Maggie Gyllenhaal as a gold-digger pursuing an older man in "Happy Endings"; Allison Janney as a mom trying to hold her crumbling family together in "Our Very Own"; Michelle Williams as a wife stung by revelations her husband is carrying on with another man in "Brokeback Mountain"; and Robin Wright Penn as a married woman thrown into turmoil by a chance encounter with an old lover in "Nine Lives."
Joining Baumbach in the directing category were Gregg Araki for the teen drama "Mysterious Skin"; George Clooney for "Good Night, and Good Luck"; Rodrigo Garcia for "Nine Lives"; and Ang Lee for "Brokeback Mountain.