By Dave Karger
February 18, 2009 at 08:40 PM EST

Usually the Spirit Awards are a breeze to predict: Pick the indie contenders who don’t a have snowball’s chance in the Oscar race and you’re home free. But with so many crowded races, guessing this year’s Spirit winners is tougher than predicting the Oscars. With the ceremony set for this Saturday, I’ll give it a try anyway.

Frozen River
Rachel Getting Married
Wendy and Lucy
The Wrestler

I could literally see any of these five winning. I’m thinking last year’s Sundance victor, Frozen River, may have the edge.

Ramin Bahrani, Chop Shop
Jonathan Demme, Rachel Getting Married
Lance Hammer, Ballast
Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
Tom McCarthy, The Visitor

With Hunt a strong candidate in the First Screenplay race, voters might spread the wealth and reward Demme here.

Male Lead
Javier Bardem, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Sean Penn, Milk
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

It’s a race between the three Oscar nominees (Jenkins, Penn, and Rourke). Since Milk didn’t fare as well overall, expect Rourke to win this match.

Female Lead
Summer Bishil, Towelhead
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Tarra Riggs, Ballast
Michelle Williams, Wendy and Lucy

Clearly this is Hathaway vs. Leo. I say Leo by a hair.

Supporting Male
James Franco, Milk
Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker
Charlie McDermott, Frozen River
JimMyron Ross, Ballast
Haaz Sleiman, The Visitor

Sleiman could upset, but this could be a win for Milk. Go with Franco.

Supporting Female
Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married
Rosie Perez, The Take
Misty Upham, Frozen River
Debra Winger, Rachel Getting Married

A Rachel vote split between DeWitt and Winger bodes well for Cruz.

Woody Allen, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, Sugar
Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York
Howard A. Rodman, Savage Grace
Christopher Zalla, Sangre De Mi Sangre

Kaufman’s supremely bizarre Synecdoche has Spirit Award written all over it.

First Screenplay
Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Lance Hammer, Ballast
Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
Jonathan Levine, The Wackness
Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married

Black may emerge victorious on Sunday, but Hunt should be the queen of the indies.

addCredit(“Jory Sutton”)