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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The family drama "Rachel Getting Married" starring Anne Hathaway shared top billing with border smuggling crime movie "Frozen River" and small town drama "Ballast" in the Spirit Award nominations for the top independent movies of 2008 on Tuesday.
The three movies each had six nominations, including those for best picture, best director and best actress, as Hollywood's three-month movie-awards season kicked into gear.
The Spirit Awards, one of the best-known honors for independent movies, are handed out on February 21 on the eve of the annual Oscar ceremony.
Organizers on Tuesday announced that this year's prestigious Robert Altman Award given to the best director, casting director and ensemble cast, was won by "Synecdoche, New York."
The movie, a quirky tale of a despairing theater director played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, was written and directed by Charlie Kaufman.
"Synecdoche, New York" also picked up three nominations, including best screenplay, in the main categories.
Other leading contenders for the Spirit Awards include the San Francisco gay biopic "Milk" starring Sean Penn, with four nominations, "The Wrestler" starring Mickey Rourke and Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" which each had three nominations.
"This is truly the year of original voices, among both veteran and new filmmakers," said Dawn Hudson, executive director of Film Independent which hands out the Spirit Awards.
The Hollywood award season moves into full gear later this month with nominations for the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild awards, which are handed out in January ahead of the movie industry's top honors, the Oscars, on February 22.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman