Entertainment & Arts

Birdman tops Spirit Awards pecking order

Michael Keaton in Birdman Image copyright Film company
Image caption Birdman star Michael Keaton played a superhero himself in Tim Burton's Batman films

Showbusiness satire Birdman will lead the flock at this year's Spirit Awards, having been nominated for six prizes including best film and best director.

Alejandro Inarritu's film, about an ex-superhero actor embarking on a theatre comeback, also picked up a nomination for its leading man, Michael Keaton.

Coming-of-age tale Boyhood, thriller Nightcrawler and civil rights drama Selma got five nominations each.

The awards, which celebrate low-budget films, will be held on 21 February.

Birdman, in which Keaton's character is haunted by his superhero alter-ego, also picked up supporting actor nominations for Edward Norton and Emma Stone.

Its sixth nomination was earned by director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki, recipient of this year's best cinematography Oscar for space thriller Gravity.

Boyhood's nominations included a nod for best picture, a citation for director Richard Linklater and recognition for Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette in the supporting actor categories.

Yet there was no nomination for lead actor Ellar Coltrane, whom Linklater filmed over a period of 12 years in order to depict a young boy's progression into adulthood.

Image copyright Film company
Image caption David Oyelowo (centre) plays civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr in Selma

British actors in the mix include former Spooks star David Oyelowo, recognised in the best male lead category for his portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr in Selma.

Londoner Riz Ahmed, of Four Lions fame, is also shortlisted for his supporting performance in Nightcrawler, opposite best actor contender Jake Gyllenhaal.

In the best female lead category, former Oscar winner Tilda Swinton received a nomination for her vampire role in Only Lovers Left Alive.

Her competition includes Julianne Moore, whose role in Still Alice - as a woman grappling with early onset Alzheimer's - has seen her emerge as the frontrunner in this year's best actress race.

Two other potential Oscar contenders, Steve Carell's wrestling drama Foxcatcher and Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice, will receive special awards at February's Santa Monica ceremony.

Only films with a budget of $20 million (£12.7m) or less are considered, rendering both films ineligible for the main awards.

Though the awards' criteria rule out some key titles, the event is often seen as an indicator as to which films will go on to be honoured at the Oscars.

Last year's event saw 12 Years a Slave take home five prizes, one day before winning three Academy Awards including best picture.

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