Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave is in contention for seven Spirit Awards followed closely by Alexander Payne’s Nebraska on six as Film Independent top brass announced nominees on November 26.

McQueen earned a director nomination and will compete against Alexander Payne for Nebraska, JC Chandor for All Is Lost, Jeff Nichols for Mud and Share Carruth for Upstream Color.

Not surprisingly given the strength and depth of this awards season, the categories are strong across the board.

Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty is among a mighty crop of international contenders that includes Abdellatif Kechiche’s Palme d’Or winner Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Sebastian Lelio’s Gloria, Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt and A Touch Of Sin from China’s Jia Zhang-Ke.

12 Years A Slave’s Chiwetel Ejiofor will contest the lead actor race with veterans Bruce Dern for Nebraska and Robert Redford for All Is Lost, as well as Oscar Isaac for Inside Llewyn Davis and Michael B Jordan for Fruitvale Station.

Cate Blanchett leads the best actress field for Blue Jasmine and can expect stiff competition from Julie Delpy in Before Midnight. The late James Gandolfini earned a supporting actor nod for Enough Said.

Fox Searchlight leads the distributor rankings on nine, followed by IFC on eight, SPC and Paramount on six, Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions solo on four and The Weinstein Company on three.

“The nominations this year are from such an amazing pool of talented film artists,” said Film Independent president Josh Welsh. “Their work demonstrates the deep originality and uniqueness of vision that are at the heart of independent film. At Film Independent, we work all year round to promote that spirit, and the nominees celebrated here today are tremendous ambassadors for their crafts, both in front of and behind the camera.” 

The Spirit Awards winners will be announced at the traditional pre-Oscar slot on March 1, 2014 on the beach in Santa Monica.

Best Feature
12 Years A Slave – pdrs Dede Gardner, Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Brad Pitt, Bill Pohlad
All Is Lost – pdrs Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb
Frances Ha – pdrs Noah Baumbach, Scott Rudin, Rodrigo Teixeira, Lila Yacoub
Inside Llewyn Davis – pdrs Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin
Nebraska – pdrs Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa

Best Director
Shane Carruth – Upstream Color
JC Chandor – All Is Lost
Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave
Jeff Nichols – Mud
Alexander Payne – Nebraska

Best screenplay
Woody Allen – Blue Jasmine
Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater – Before Midnight
Nicole Holofcener – Enough Said
Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber – The Spectacular Now
John Ridley – 12 Years A Slave

Best first feature
Blue Caprice – dir-pdr Alexandre Moors; pdrs Kim Jackson, Brian O’Carroll, Isen Robbins, Will Rowbotham, Ron Simons, Aimee Schoof, Stephen Tedeschi
Concussion – dir Stacie Passon; pdr Rose Troche
Fruitvale Station – dir Ryan Coogler; pdrs Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker
Una Noche – dir-pdr Lucy Mulloy; pdrs Sandy Perez Agulia, Maite Artieda, Daniel Mulloy, Yunior Santiago
Wadjda – dir Haifaa Al Mansour; pdrs Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul

Best first screenplay
Lake BellIn A World
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Don Jon
Bob Nelson – Nebraska
Jill Soloway – Afternoon Delight
Michael Starrbury – The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete

John Cassavetes Award – given to the best feature made for under $500,000.
Computer Chess – wr-dir Andrew Bujalski; pdrs Houston King and Alex Lipschultz
Crystal Fairy – wr-dir Sebastian Silva; pdrs Juan de Dios Larrain and Pablo Larrain
Museum Hours – wr-dir Jem Cohen; pdrs Paolo Calamita and Gabriele Kranzelbinder
Pit Stop – wr-dir Yen Tan; wr David Lowery; pdrs Jonathan Duffy, James M Johnston, Eric Steele, Kelly Williams
This Is Martin Bonner – wr-dir Chad Hartigan; pdr Cherie Saulter

Best female lead
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Julie Delpy – Before Midnight
Gaby Hoffmann – Crystal Fairy
Brie Larson – Short Term 12
Shailene Woodley – The Spectacular Now

Best male lead
Brue Dern – Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years A Slave
Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis
Michael B Jordan – Fruitvale Station
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford – All Is Lost

Best supporting female
Melonie Diaz – Fruitvale Station
Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years A Slave
Yolanda Ross – Go For Sisters
June Squibb – Nebraska

Best supporting male
Michael Fassbender – 12 Years A Slave
Will Forte – Nebraska
James Gandolfini – Enough Said
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Keith Stanfield – Short Term 12

Best cinematography
Sean Bobbitt – 12 Years A Slave
Benoit Debie – Spring Breakers
Bruno Delbonnel – Inside Llewyn Davis
Frank G DeMarco – All Is Lost
Matthias Grunsky – Computer Chess

Best editing
Shane Carruth and David Lowery – Upstream Color
Jem Cohen and Marc Vives – Museum Hours
Jennifer Lame – Frances Ha
Cindy Lee – Una Noche
Nat Sanders – Short Term 12

Best documentary
20 Feet From Stardom – dir-pdr Morgan Neville: pdrs Gil Friesen and Caitrin Rogers
After Tiller – dirs-pdrs Martha Shane and Lana Wilson
Gideon’s Army – dir-pdr Dawn Porter; pdr Julie Goldman
The Act Of Killing – dir-pdr Joshua Oppenheimer; pdrs Joram Ten Brink, Christine Cynn, Anne Kohncke, Signe Byrge Sorensen, Michael Uwemedimo
The Square – dir Jehane Noujaim; pdr Karim Amer

Best international film
A Touch Of Sin (China) – dir Jia Zhang-Ke
Blue Is The Warmest Color (France) – dir Abdellatif Kechiche
Gloria (Chile) – dir Sebastian Lello
The Great Beauty (Italy) – dir Paolo Sorrentino
The Hunt (Denmark) – dir Thomas Vinterberg

Robert Altman Award
Director Jeff Nichols
Casting director Francine Maisler
Ensemble cast Joe Don Baker, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard, Tye Sheridan, Paul Sparks, Bonnie Sturdivant, Reese Witherspoon

17th Annual Piaget Producers Award
Toby Halbrooks and James M Johnston; Jacob Jaffke; Andrea Roa; Frederick Thornton

20th Annual Someone To Watch Award
My Sister’s Quinceanera – dir Aaron Douglas Johnston
Newlyweeds – dir Shaka King
The Foxy Merkins – dir Madeline Olnek

19th Annual Stella Artois Truer Than Fiction Award
Kalyanee Mam – A River Changes Course
Jason Osder – Let The Fire Burn
Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez – Manakamana