The Spirit sees something it likes in Jeremy Renner.
The folks who tally up the nominations for film's annual Independent Spirit Awards do, at any rate.
For the second time in the 38-year-old Modesto native's burgeoning career, Renner is nominated for best male lead, this time for his role in the Iraq war drama "The Hurt Locker."
And it's no small honor, particularly this go-round: Renner will vie against Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler"), Sean Penn ("Milk"), Javier Bardem ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona") and Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor") for this year's award. Rourke, Penn and Jenkins also are nominated for their lead roles at this year's Academy Awards.
Renner's first Spirit Award nomination came in 2003 for his title role in the acclaimed indie film "Dahmer," based on the true story of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.
The Independent Spirit Awards, now in their 23rd year, recognize top talent from independent film and Hollywood. The awards will be presented Saturday in Los Angeles and televised on the IFC and AMC channels.
"The Hurt Locker" had a worldwide, though limited, release throughout fall of 2008. Renner's was the starring role as Staff Sgt. William James, the new leader of a squad of elite soldiers that has one of the most dangerous jobs in the world: disarming bombs in the heat of combat, according to IMDB.com.
The film was not released in the Modesto area but is expected to hit DVD shelves sometime this year.
Renner, a graduate of Beyer High School, maintains his roots in the area. He frequently visits his mother and father, who both live in Modesto, and appeared at California State University, Stanislaus, in October for a reading of "Into the Wild" with theater professor John Mayer.
He also has appeared at Brenden Theatres to sign autographs for local fans at the Modesto premières of three of his biggest films — "S.W.A.T." in 2003, "North Country" in 2005 and "28 Weeks Later" in 2007.
Renner's many other film credits include the critically acclaimed "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," with Brad Pitt, and the upcoming comedy romance "Lightbulb."
He's also had several guest appearances on TV shows such as "House" and "CSI."
ABC is the latest to tap Renner's talents. He's among the stars of a new cop show, "The Unusuals," debuting in April.