Two distinctly American odysseys, Andrea Arnold's teens-on-the-road film "American Honey" and Barry Jenkins' coming-of-age tale "Moonlight," led the Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations with six nods each, including best feature and best director.
Other best-feature candidates are "Manchester by the Sea," ''Jackie," and "Chronic." Jenny Slate and Edgar Ramirez announced the nominees at an event in Hollywood.
Nominations for "American Honey" also include best female lead for newcomer Sasha Lane and best supporting male for Shia LaBeouf. "Moonlight," which captured the Robert Altman Award for its ensemble cast, is being recognized for cinematography, editing, and screenplay.
Oscar hopefuls are sprinkled throughout each category of the awards recognizing achievements in independent film, and occasionally the two sync up with their winners. Last year's best independent feature winner "Spotlight" went on to pick up the top prize at the Academy Awards, as did best actress Brie Larson for "Room."
Both "Moonlight" and "Manchester by the Sea," Kenneth Lonergan's New England-set familial drama, are considered top contenders for Oscars.
"Manchester by the Sea's" five nominations include best actor for Casey Affleck and best supporting actor for Lucas Hedges.
The best actress category also is filled with presumed Oscar darlings such as Annette Bening for "20th Century Women," Isabelle Huppert for "Elle," Ruth Negga for "Loving," and Natalie Portman for "Jackie."
The Independent Spirit Awards also shines a spotlight on comparatively under-the-radar films, including "The Fits," from first-time director Anna Rose Holmer, Robert Eggers' "The Witch," Chris Kelly's "Other People," and Andrew Ahn's "Spa Night."
This year's 382 film submissions were judged on such guidelines as uniqueness of vision, originality of subject matter, economy of means, and percentage of financing from independent sources.
Some films with an indie edge, like the much-lauded Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone musical "La La Land" from director Damien Chazelle, were not eligible due to production budgets north of $30 million. Tom Ford's "Nocturnal Animals" and Denzel Washington's "Fences" also were not eligible.
Nominations are chosen by members of Film Independent, which includes critics, filmmakers, actors, festival programmers, past winners and nominees, and members of its board of directors.
Winners will be revealed at a Feb. 25 ceremony, airing live on IFC from Santa Monica. The Academy Awards are presented the next day.