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February 20, 2009 9:33 AM
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Spirit Awards '09: Who Will Win and Who Should Win

Michelle Williams in a scene from Kelly Reichardt's "Wendy & Lucy." Image courtesy of the Oscilloscope Laboratories.

indieWIRE conducted a poll of some our writers, bloggers and friends, asking the two questions this year's Film Independent's Spirit Awards: Who will win, and who should win? In thirteen categories, our insiders suggested who might take home an award Saturday afternoon in Santa Monica.

If they're correct, look for a major split among the total tallies of winners. "The Wrestler" is apparently set to take home best picture and best actor trophies, "Rachel Getting Married" best director and best first screenplay, and "Synecdoche, New York" best first feature and best screenplay.

As for who should win, seven categories lined up with the "woulds," while others were vast disagreement. In an indieWIRE pollster's world, "Wendy & Lucy" would win best feature, and "Wendy" herself, Michelle Williams, best female lead.

You can check out any of our polled participants' individual ballots here:

Erica Abeel | Kyle Buchanan | Tom Hall | Eugene Hernandez | Eric Hynes | James Israel | Keaton Kail | Eric Kohn | Michael Koresky | Peter Knegt | Karina Longworth | Anne Thompson | Basil Tsiokos | Michael Tully | Kim Voynar | Chris Wisniewski

These ballots also include their picks for the Academy Awards, but first here are the results for the Spirits poll:

Best Feature
Who Will Win: Despite Darren Aronofsky's snub in the best director category, 80% of those polled say "The Wrestler." "Rachel Getting Married" is it's close competition with 13% of the vote.

Who Should Win: "Wendy and Lucy," say 53% of voters. "The Wrestler" (20%), "Ballast" (20%), and "Rachel Getting Married" (13%), all found supporters as well.

Best Director
Who Will Win: "Rachel"'s Jonathan Demme is the shaky top choice with 53% of votes, with "Frozen River"'s Courtney Hunt (27%) and "The Visitor"'s Tom McCarthy (20%) the potential upsetters.

Who Should Win: Lance Hammer is 47% of voters' hope for his work on "Ballast," while Hunt, Demme and "Chop Shop"'s Ramin Bahrani each took 20%.

Best Female Lead
Who Will Win: According to 73% of voters, Melissa Leo. "Brokeback Mountain" beards turned "Wendy" and "Rachel" stars Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway each took 13% of the vote.

Who Should Win: Michelle Williams, says just over half of those polled. Leo (27%) and Hathaway (20%) took the silver and bronze.

A scene from Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler." Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Best Male Lead
Who Will Win: Like the Oscar race, this is apparently down to Rourke vs. Penn. And as he did in our Oscar poll, Mickey Rourke lead the bets of our voters, with 80% (compared to 60% for the Oscar). Penn is a distant second with 20% of the predictions.

Who Should Win: Penn did much better here, taking 40% of the votes, but it's still Mickey Rourke, who was 53% of those polled's top choice.

Best Supporting Female
Who Will Win: A whopping 93% say Penelope Cruz.

Who Should Win: Also Penelope Cruz, though only with 73% support this time. Rosemarie DeWitt (27%) and Misty Upham (7%) also found supporters.

Best Supporting Male
Who Will Win: With "The Dark Knight" not quite qualifying as having "indie spirit," 93% of those polled feel "Milk"'s James Franco is taking this home.

Who Should Win: James Franco, by a very narrow 47%-40% margin over "Ballast"'s JimMyron Ross."

A scene from Charlie Kaufman's "Synecdoche, New York." Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Best Screenplay
Who Will Win: 80% say "Synecdoche, New York"'s Charlie Kaufman, with Woody Allen his closest competition at 13%.

Who Should Win: Also Charlie Kaufman, say 73% of our pollees. Woody and "Sugar"'s Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck each had 20% of the support.

Best First Feature
Who Will Win: Charlie Kaufman is apparently taking home two spirits, as "Synecdoche, New York" was predicted by 63% of our voters. "Medicine For Melancholy" is the potential upset, with the other 37%.

Who Should Win: The situation got tighter here, but "Synecdoche, New York" again beat Barry Jenkins' "Medicine For Melancholy" 50%-43%.

John Cassavetes Award
Who Will Win: A tight race, with Sean Baker and Darren Dean winning 40% of the vote for "Prince of Broadway," over "In Search of a Midnight Kiss" (30%) "The Signal" (20%) and "Take Out" (10%).

Who Should Win: Baker narrowly beat himself as "Prince of Broadway" won 44%-33% over "Take Out."

Best First Screenplay
Who Will Win: "Rachel Getting Married"'s Oscar snubee Jenny Lumet" in a narrow 44%-38% victory of "Milk"'s Dustin Lance Black.

Who Should Win: A tie! "Milk''s Dustin Lance Black and "Ballast"'s Lance Hammer" each had 38% of the support.

Best Documentary
Who Will Win: 94% say "Man on Wire."

Who Should Win: Only 38% say "Man on Wire," with all five nominees getting support. "The Order of Myths," "Up The Yangtze" and "Encounters at the End of the World" each had 19% of the vote, while "The Betrayal" had 13%

Best Foreign Film
Who Will Win: It's tight, but "The Class" takes it by a 40%-33%-27% margin over "Gomorrah" and "Hunger," respectively.

Who Should Win: Steve McQueen's "Hunger," say 33% of voters. Like documentary, all five films get some love: "Silent Light" (27%), "The Class" (20%), "Secret of the Grain" and "Gomorrah" (7% each).

Best Cinematography
Who Will Win: Harris Savides' work will give "Milk" its third trophy of the night, say 56% of voters. "The Wrestler"'s Maryse Alberti is second with 31%.

Who Should Win: "Ballast"'s Lol Crawley, narrowly over "Medicine For Melancholy" D.P. James Laxton.


The ballots:

Erica Abeel | Kyle Buchanan | Tom Hall | Eugene Hernandez | Eric Hynes | James Israel | Keaton Kail | Eric Kohn | Michael Koresky | Peter Knegt | Karina Longworth | Anne Thompson | Basil Tsiokos | Michael Tully | Kim Voynar | Chris Wisniewski

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