'Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire" and 'The Last Station' lead the field with five nominations each. 'Precious', the story of an abused and illiterate Harlem teenager who struggles to find a better life, is the frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar. The movie has been collecting accolades and great acclaim ever since it was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. 'The Last Station' is an account of the battle over the estate of Russian literary giant Leo Tolstoy between the man, played by Christopher Plummer, and his wife, played by Helen Mirren, who has already won the Best Actress prize at the Rome Film Festival for her performance. Both are nominated, with the latter competing against Gabourey Sidibe, the young lady making her professional acting debut playing the eponymous role in 'Precious', in the Best Actress category.
Because the Spirit Awards specifically recognize lower-budget films, success here doesn't necessarily translate to success at the Oscars...but it certainly doesn't hurt a leading contender's Oscar chances and, if anything, only adds to the momentum of award frontrunners. Furthermore, there tends to be quite a number of overlapping in the acting categories between the Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards, ever since Oscar got more hip and wiser to the quality of independent film, especially in telling stories that are character-driven; the kind of meaty opportunities that every actor craves. Just last year, Spirit Award nominee Sean Penn, for Best Actor for his work in 'Milk', went on to win the Oscar. This year, there are several nominees at the Spirit Awards who will likely contend at the Oscars. They include the aforementioned Gabourey Sidibe and her co-star Mo'Nique, who portrays the title character's abusive mother, one of the most horrific parental figures ever committed to celluloid, for 'Precious', Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer for 'The Last Station', Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton for the Iraq war on the homefront movie 'The Messenger', Colin Firth in iconic fashion designer Tom Ford's directorial debut 'A Single Man' and the current frontrunner for the Best Actor Oscar, Jeff Bridges for 'Crazy Heart'.