The day before the Oscars, former Twin Cities writer Diablo Cody will spend the afternoon at the beach -- but she'll be competing for independent film's biggest honor.
Cody's screenwriting debut, "Juno," was nominated for four Spirit Awards, the indie-film answer to the Oscars, held each year in a huge tent on the Santa Monica, Calif., oceanfront. "Juno" will compete for best feature with another Minnesota-connected film: "I'm Not There." The kaleidoscopic portrait of Bob Dylan got four nominations plus the first Robert Altman Award to director Todd Haynes, his ensemble cast and the film's casting director.
Also nominated for best feature: Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," Gus Van Sant's "Paranoid Park" and Michael Winterbottom's "A Mighty Heart."
Cody was nominated for the best-first-screenplay for "Juno," a comic drama that stars Ellen Page as a teen confronting an unplanned pregnancy. Page will compete for best female lead against a heady field: Angelina Jolie ("A Mighty Heart"), Sienna Miller ("Interview"), Parker Posey ("Broken English") and Tang Wei ("Lust, Caution," produced by Minneapolis resident Bill Pohlad, which got two other nominations).
"Juno" also received a nomination for its director, Jason Reitman. The movie is scheduled to open Dec. 14 in the Twin Cities. Cody is to host a screening the night before at the Walker Art Center.
"I'm Not There," now playing at the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis, features six actors playing different facets of Dylan. Two of them, Cate Blanchett and Marcus Carl Franklin, were nominated for Spirits.
Winners will be named Feb. 23 in a ceremony airing on the Independent Film Channel (and later on AMC). The awards are sponsored by Film Independent, a Los Angeles nonprofit organization. Voters include members of Twin Cities-based IFP Minnesota.
"Juno" won't have to wait to collect some hardware. Page won the Breakthrough Actor Award at Tuesday's Gotham Awards, run by IFP, Film Independent's New York counterpart. Another Pohlad production, Sean Penn's "Into the Wild," was named best feature.