SANTA MONICA─The prizes for the 35th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards were handed out inside a tent near the Santa Monica Pier on Saturday, February 8. Indie films do not always get the highlights they should receive, but it’s important because these movies tend to be some of the best of the bunch.
“Uncut Gems” and “The Lighthouse” were heavy favorites leading into the night, but it was Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” that took home the top prize of Best Feature much to the director’s surprise. The ceremony was hosted by actress Aubrey Plaza who kicked off the ceremony with a hilarious and I mean hilarious parody of Judy Garland courtesy of the film “Judy” starring Renee Zellweger.
It simply had my belly aching it was spot on poking fun at indie films, while Plaza captured those nuances of Garland that was delicious TV. This is where a host for an awards show works. The host knows what to do and they’re not afraid to do it. Sometimes they just pick a host out of the bunch and say host; that doesn’t always work people.
The first award of the night for Best Supporting Male went to Willem Dafoe for “The Lighthouse,” while Zhao Shuzhen took home the prize for Supporting Female for “The Farewell.” “Uncut Gems” had a big night taking home a total of three awards including Best Editing, Best Director for Benny and Josh Safdie and Best Male Lead for Adam Sandler, who gave a speech that was too long people.
Continuing her dominance this awards season was Renee Zellweger walking away with another award for Best Female Lead for her performance of Judy Garland in “Judy.” “The Lighthouse” won the prize for Best Cinematography, while “Give Me Liberty” was victorious capturing the John Cassavettes Award. “Parasite” won Best International Film, while Olivia Wilde and company won the prize for Best First Feature for “Booksmart.”
On the writing side, it was “See You Yesterday” that won for Best First Screenplay, while Noah Baumbach won the Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for “Marriage Story.” A highlight of the night was the Los Angeles Gay Male Chorus paying tribute to Laura Dern with an epic song that had Dern in addition to everyone else singing her praises and laughing in the audience.
With that said, the Independent Spirit Awards are in the history books, but it does raise an important question. There is a reason indie films tend to capture awards contention year after year: they’re movies full of passion! Now if we could only get Hollywood to take that same passion when it comes to storytelling and filmmaking, would movies always be entertaining.