Can’t wait to see “Sideways.”

Indie Filmmakers Toast Wine-Tasting Comedy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A wine-soaked road comedy and a cocaine-fueled drama led the list of contenders on Tuesday for the Independent Spirit Awards, the American art-house world’s version of the Oscars.
Writer/director Alexander Payne’s “Sideways,” starring Paul Giamatti as a sad-sack bachelor who travels around California wine country with his manic buddy, picked up six nominations.
The Spanish-language drama “Maria Full of Grace,” about a Colombian woman who seeks a better life in America by becoming a drug courier, followed with five. The film marked the feature debuts of its writer/director, Joshua Marston, and lead actress, Bogota native Catalina Sandino Moreno.
The Spirit Awards, now in their 20th year, honor low-budget films based on such criteria as original, provocative subject matter and the degree of independent financing. Winners will be unveiled on Feb. 26, the day before the Academy Awards.
Four films nabbed four nominations apiece: “Brother to Brother,” a drama about a young gay black man forced to live on the streets; “Primer,” a $7,000 tale of discovery that won the top prize at the Sundance Film Festival; “Robbing Peter,” which ponders the natural human tendency toward crime; and “Kinsey,” starring Liam Neeson as famed sex researcher Alfred Kinsey.
Some high-profile indie films found themselves lower in the pack, including the Che Guevara road venture “The Motorcycle Diaries,” and the upcoming “The Woodsman,” starring Kevin Bacon as a pedophile, with three nods each, the offbeat high-school comedy “Napoleon Dynamite,” and the dramas “Garden State” and “The Door in the Floor,” all with two each.
The nominations are a huge boost for art-house movies, which must compete with big-budget flicks for theater screens and media attention, said “Sideways” producer Michael London.
“These awards, for better or worse, they mean everything,” he said, adding they were a “huge first step” toward getting recognition from other awards.
“Sideways,” released by Fox Searchlight Pictures, has earned $10 million at the North American box office after spending a month in limited release. The film cost about $16 million to make, London said.
Marston, who visited imprisoned drug couriers in the United States and South America during his three years of research for “Maria Full of Grace,” said the nominations were “perfectly timed” since the DVD goes on sale next Tuesday. The film grossed about $6.5 million from North American theaters. It was released by Fine Line Features.
“Sideways” and “Maria Full of Grace” will compete against each other in the feature, director, screenplay and supporting female (Virginia Madsen and Yenny Paola Vega, respectively) categories. Additionally, “Sideways” was cited for supporting male (Thomas Haden Church) and male lead (Giamatti). “Maria” star Moreno was cited for female lead.
Other feature contenders were “Baadassss!” “Kinsey,” and “Primer.” The respective directors of “Baadassss!” and “Primer,” Mario Van Peebles and Carruth, were listed in the director’s race as was Brazilian Walter Salles for “The Motorcycle Diaries.”