On December 2nd, actors Sandra Oh and Jason Bateman joined Film Independent’s executive director Dawn Hudson in Los Angeles to announce the 2009 Spirit Award nominations.

Lance Hammer’s Ballast, Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River and Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married received top honors with a three-way tie of six nominations each. All three are in the running for best feature, director, first screenplay and female lead (for actresses Tarra Riggs, Melissa Leo and Anne Hathaway, respectively). Rounding out the best picture nominees are Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy, starring Michelle Williams (who also received a Best Female Lead nod) and Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, which also saw Mickey Rourke nominated for Best Male Lead.

Following the three most-nominated movies is Gus Van Sant’s critically acclaimed biopic Milk, which garnered four nominations, including Sean Penn for male lead, James Franco for supporting actor, Harris Savides for cinematography and Dustin Lance Black for best first screenplay.

The Robert Altman Award, given to a movie’s director, casting director and ensemble cast, will be bestowed upon Charlie Kaufman’s latest mind-bender and first directorial effort, Syndecdoche, New York. The movie is also nominated for Best First Feature.

The Spirit Awards will take place on Saturday, February 21st, 2009. For a complete list of nominees, go to www.spiritawards.com.