By Amy Ryan
Updated November 28, 2006 at 12:00 PM EST

With today’s announcement of the nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards, two questions arise:

First, with most of the nomination love showered on the (entirely deserving) Half Nelson and Little Miss Sunshine (pictured), how does this bode for these films’ Oscar chances? Remember, back in August, these two movies were the frontrunners; nothing else had yet been released that seemed to merit much Oscar consideration, and the fall awards hopefuls like The Departed and Little Children were still unseen. Will these Spirit nominations help keep these movies in the race against films that are fresher in voters’ minds?

Second, when did you guys drop the “Independent” from the “Independent Spirit Awards”? (Sometime in the last year, apparently.) I realize “Independent” is kind of a meaningless sobriquet at a time when many so-called indie films are released by subdivisions of the major studios, or when Spirit-winners like Brokeback Mountain, Crash, and Capote do similarly well at the Academy Awards. Still, to paraphrase Hyman Roth, this is the business you’ve chosen, and for better or worse, “Independent” is your brand. Without that word, your Just-Spirit Awards have an awfully generic name that doesn’t exactly say “movies” to me. C’mon, y’all, please declare your independence again!