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Ferdinand

A mostly pleasant surprise in a year that has produced a lack of stellar animated outings.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Indie Spirit Awards: Good news & bad news

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"Man Push Cart."

Full list of nominees here.

I haven't seen all the nominees ("The Dead Girl," "American Gun," "Wristcutters: A Love Story," etc.), but, as always, there are some most welcome nominations. (Links below go to my reviews, festival coverage -- or even Opening Shots.)

"Man Push Cart," for best first feature (director Ramin Bahrani), male lead (Ahmad Razvi) and cinematography (Michael Simmonds). Opening Shot treatment here.

"Half Nelson," for best feature, director (Ryan Fleck), first screenplay (Anna Boden & Fleck), male lead (Ryan Gosling), female lead (Shareeka Epps)

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"Pan's Labyrinth," for best feature and cinematography (Guillermo Navarro). (But not Guillermo Del Toro for director and screenplay?!?!?!)

"Old Joy," for the John Cassavettes Award.

Paul Dano for "best supporting male" (that's the IFP's category) in "Little Miss Sunshine," which is also nominated for best feature, screenplay, directors -- and Alan Arkin, also nominated for supporting male. I love Arkin (it's all about "Little Murders," people!), but I thought Steve Carell and Dano stole the movie, with Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear close behind.

Catherine O'Hara for best female lead in "For Your Consideration."

Robert Altman, best director for "A Prairie Home Companion."

Biggest disappointments: No documentary nominations for "51 Birch Street" or "The Bridge." The former may have been too deceptively simple and artless (in truth, it's a complex work of art) and the latter too cold and disturbing for many in the Indie tent-party crowd.

I'm still technically on break, but I'll be back to blogging (and editing) Wednesday.

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