There were few surprises among the nominees for the 2009 Film Independent’s Spirit Awards announced this morning by Sandra Oh and Jason Bateman at the Sofitel LA hotel. (But what is surprising is how any contenders can be selected since it’s still so damn early. The same holds true for the BAFTA nominations and even the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globes nominations on December 11th.) Ballast, Frozen River, and Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married, led the list with 6 nominations each. Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York, is the winner of Robert Altman Award, give to one film’s director, casting director (Jeanne McCarthy) and ensemble cast (Hope Davis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Tom Noonan, Emily Watson, Dianne Wiest, and Michelle Williams). Selected from more than 250 submissions, this year’s winners will be announced on February 21 in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica. The ceremony will air uncut, uncensored, and commercial-free on IFC. An edited re-broadcast of the ceremony will air later that evening on AMC.