In a normal year I would have been working on an interesting blood-Jameson content on the beach of Santa Monica today. Film Independent’s Spirit Awards are, after all, the great stretch of the legs at the tail end of the season with the big Sunday showdown on the horizon. It’s a good party, even if it still seems to be chasing what “independent filmmaking” is in this day and age. (I don’t know that they’ve caught it.)
Nevertheless, it’s a good bridesmaid roll call for films like “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “Silver Linigns Playbook” to have their day while Oscar’s heavies go at it the following day. But there is the rare occasion, like a Harvey Weinstein player last year, that dominates both ceremonies and feels like synergy, if for a moment. Could that play out again?
This year, alas, I was trying to catch a ray of that Southern California sunshine (it was an annoyingly nice day over there) via Twitter from my rain-drizzled New York hovel. That distance from the lion’s den, by the way, has been an interesting and illuminating experience this year.
The show will air tonight on IFC at 10pm ET. If you’d like to stay spoiler free (though I guess the headline pretty much took care of that), hold off and watch at home. Otherwise, follow along with today’s winner announcements and on-going commentary below. But before that, a little pre-game fun from Roadside Attractions:
– Roadside Attractions (@roadsidetweets) February 23, 2013
Moving on to the actual ceremony…
Best First Screenplay: Derek Connolly, “Safety Not Guaranteed”
Comments: Vindication for the Indiana Film Journalists Association! “Beasts of the Southern Wild” isn’t the only film lasting the big bad breadth of the season since Sundance. Apparently Connolly was wasted during his speech. And was ultimately escorted out the tent by security. When you have tubs of Jameson on the table…
Best First Film: Stephen Chbosky, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Comments: Despite the fact, that, you know, it’s not his first feature. Way to track that research down, guys. Nevertheless, this was a stellar film that should have gone farther this season. I kind of wish I had been louder about it myself.
Best Supporting Male: Matthew McConaughey, “Magic Mike”
Comments: And expect to be hearing plenty more from him around this time next year. Between “Mud,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “The Dallas Buyers Club,” with plenty of goodwill from performances like this one, “Killer Joe” and “The Paperboy” from 2012, he’s bound to set serious sail, right? “I had to drop my drawers to win an award,” he said. Too true…
Piaget Producers Award: Mynette Louie
Chaz and Roger Ebert Fellowship: “Mr. SOUL!”
Robert Altman Award: “Starlet”
Comments: Gotta say, I never saw this one. But I’m intrigued. Also a nominee for the John Cassavetes Award.
Best International Film: “Amour”
Comments: Naturally. The question remains what it’s able to pull down tomorrow night. And intriguingly, the Best Foreign Language Film category may not be one of them. We’ll see how it plays out.
woohoo i get best of foreign film at the spirit awards!!1! up until 2day i always thort they was prizes 4 the bst ghosts lol #spiritawards
– Michael Haneke (@Michael_Haneke) February 23, 2013
John Cassavetes Award: “Middle of Nowhere”
Comments: This is really the “Best Picture” prize, if you’re awarding independent cinema, yeah? Budgets under $500,000. No, “indie” isn’t merely about budget. But…well, that’s a can of worms. Congratulations to Ava DuVernay, a talented filmmaker with a bright future.
Best Supporting Female: Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
Comments: A brave performance and the one Oscar nominee of the bunch. It’s a shame her co-star John Hawkes couldn’t share in the Oscar love but he’s nominated along side her at the Spirits. Happy to have Hunt back in the fold like this.
Best Cinematography: “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Comments: I’m very happy for Ben Richardson here, whose name I didn’t get to mention often enough during the season. He really should have been in the serious conversation for his work on the film, which is just stellar. At least this moment gives me reason to point back to my interview with him upon release of the film. Good guy with a good head on his shoulders.
Best Screenplay: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Comments: The first award of the day for the presumed frontrunner of the lot. Harvey Weinstein has done a nice job getting his players to soak up a lot of love at this event the last two years. But unlike last year, is today the last hurrah for the film? Or can it turn out wins for its screenplay and perhaps more tomorrow? We’ll see.
Best Documentary: “The Invisible War”
Comments: First prediction I got wrong today (I turned them into IndieWire’s CriticWire survey). And it’s a great win at that. I’d love to see a surprise like this happen at the Oscars. I don’t know what else I can say about Kirby Dick’s amazing effort that I haven’t said, but it’s one of few films in the season that deserve a genuine, “Thank you.”
Someone To Watch Award: Adam Leon, “Kimme the Loot”
Truer Than Fiction Award: Peter Nicks, “The Waiting Room”
Best Director: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Comments: Why was I so silly as to think Benh Zeitlin’s vision might take this? Of course not. “Silver Linings Playbook” is a locomotive at this show, naturally. And Mr. Weinstein pulled that string brilliantly once again.
Best Female Lead: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Comments: Naturally. But…kiss of death for tomorrow?
Best Male Lead: John Hawkes, “The Sessions”
Comments: And here I was thinking I must have been out of my mind to predict this. It’s nice that something slowed the “Silver Linings” express down a touch, and this is nice vindication for Hawkes, who was shut out of the Oscar quintet. It was a beautiful performance, endearing, capturing a lot of spirit. That kind of accomplishment can’t be diminished.
Best Feature: “Silver Linings Playbook”
Comments: And despite the Hawkes detour, the writing was on the wall with that one. That’s two years in a row that typically dubious qualifiers for the Independent Spirit Awards have dominated, and they’ve emanated from the same distributor. So bravo to Harvey Weinstein. Navigating these waters is in his bones. If you’re gonna do something, you might as well be good at it.
And that’s a wrap! I wish I could have been in the tent, despite my point of view on the presentations going on inside it. It’s a fun party. So congrats to the winners. And someone check on poor Derek Conneolly.
(Remember you can relive all the ups and downs of the 2012-2013 film awards season via The Circuit.)
What are your thoughts on the 2013 Film Independent Spirit Awards turnout? Have your say in the comments section below!