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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Existential black comedy "Birdman" led the Independent Spirit Awards nominees on Tuesday, as thriller "Nightcrawler," coming-of-age chronicle "Boyhood" and civil rights drama "Selma" followed with five nods each.
"Birdman," which follows the journey of a washed-up actor as he embarks on a theater comeback, scored a Best Actor nod for Michael Keaton, Best Supporting Actor and Actress for Edward Norton and Emma Stone and Best Director for Alejandro G. Inarritu.
Fox Searchlight's "Birdman" joined four other contenders, IFC Films' "Boyhood," Paramount Pictures' "Selma" and Sony Pictures Classics films "Whiplash" and "Love Is Strange," for the coveted top prize for Best Feature.
Jazz drumming drama "Whiplash," which won the top honor at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and has garnered awards buzz, landed four nominations, including Best Director for Damien Chazelle and Best Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons.
The Independent Spirit Awards, held at a casual luncheon on California's Santa Monica beach the day before Hollywood's glitzy Oscars ceremony on Feb. 21, bestows awards on the best achievements in independent film.
The award recipients are often an indicator of Academy Award winners, with slavery drama "12 Years a Slave" taking top honors at both the Spirit Awards and Oscars this year.
Keaton will be up against "Nightcrawler" star Jake Gyllenhaal, "Jimi: All Is by My Side" singer-actor Andre Benjamin, John Lithgow in "Love Is Strange" and "Selma" actor David Oyelowo.
In the Best Actress race, "The Immigrant" star Marion Cotillard will face Julianne Moore for "Still Alice," comedian Jenny Slate for "Obvious Child," Tilda Swinton for "Only Lovers Left Alive" and Rinko Kikuchi for "Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter."
Best Documentary nominees include Laura Poitras' Edward Snowden film "Citizenfour," Congo environmental film "Virunga," American Heartland narrative "Stray Dog," "20,000 Days on Earth," about singer Nick Cave; and "The Salt of the Earth," about photographer Sebastiao Salgado.
Directors of Sweden's "Force Majeure," Poland's "Ida," Russian film "Leviathan," Canada's "Mommy," Philippines' "Norte, the End of History" and "Under the Skin" from the United Kingdom will compete for Best International Film.
"Foxcatcher," which has earned Oscar buzz for its stars Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo and director Bennett Miller, and Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice" were not eligible for individual nominations, award organizers said.
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Jonathan Oatis