Rourke plays a wrester fallen on hard times in Darren Aronofsky's film
Mickey Rourke's comeback performance in The Wrestler has been shortlisted for the best actor prize at Hollywood's leading awards for independent film.
The sports drama, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, is also up for best feature at the Spirit Awards, to be held on 21 February.
Other titles nominated for the event's top award include Anne Hathaway's family drama Rachel Getting Married.
Bobby Sands biopic Hunger, meanwhile, is up for the best foreign film prize.
Rachel Getting Married, about a wedding interrupted by the arrival of the bride's troubled sister, is up for six awards in total.
So are Ballast, an austere drama set in the Mississippi Delta, and Frozen River, a film about human trafficking set on the US-Canadian border.
Wendy and Lucy, in which Michelle Williams plays a young homeless woman seeking her lost dog, completes the best feature shortlist.
Williams, the former partner of the late Heath Ledger, is also up for a best actress prize alongside Hathaway and Frozen River's Melissa Leo.
Former Oscar winners Sean Penn and Javier Bardem will compete with Rourke in the best male lead category.
Penn is recognised for his role as gay politician Harvey Milk in the film Milk, while Bardem - of No Country for Old Men fame - is nominated for his work in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Bardem's co-star Penelope Cruz gets a supporting actress citation for her role in Woody Allen's comedy.
British director James Marsh, meanwhile, is up for a best documentary prize for Man on Wire, his film about the Frenchman who wire-walked between the Twin Towers in New York.
Leo's Gotham win boosts her chances of getting an Oscar nomination
Held in Los Angeles on the day before the Oscars, the Spirit Awards are presented by Film Independent, a non-profit US organisation that promotes independent film-making.
It is not uncommon for many of its nominees to also be shortlisted for Academy Awards.
The announcement of the 2009 Spirit nominations coincided with the the Gotham Independent Film Awards, held in New York on Tuesday.
Melissa Leo was named breakthrough actor of the year for Frozen River, which also picked up the best feature prize.
The ensemble performance award was shared by Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York, which will also receive an ensemble acting prize at the Spirit Awards.
Presented by film organisation IFP (Independent Feature Project), the Gothams saw Penelope Cruz and Milk director Gus Van Sant receive special tributes.