Ah, the Indie Spirt Awards. Or the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Or the Spirit Awards. Or Film Independent’s Spirit Awards. The name of the ceremony may be fungible, but the awards themselves are a reliable wacky affair, taking place in a tent on the beach, one day before that Other Award Show presents its Other Awards in Hollywood.
Just in case anything wacky happens and in case you don’t get IFC, HitFix (or “I”) am live-blogging the Spirit Awards.
Click through for all of the minute-by-minute fun…
2:01 p.m. PT Ben Stiller introduces host Steve Coogan, either live or via pre-tape. It’s hard to tell It’s sort of a joke, but not quite. The gag is that Stiller likes to employ Coogan in his movies, “Because he’s consistently available and he never interferes with the actual funny stuff.”
2:02 p.m. Steve Coogan begins the night by explaining that independent films around about box office, “They’re about shared experience and today we all share the experience of not having seen most of the film.” Like all movies, they’re about escapism, escaping into a world of “rape, domestic suicide and violence.”
2:04 p.m. We get our first “Who needs the Oscars?,” followed by the assurance that Oscars are for the pretty people, but at the Spirit Awards, “I look around and I see people who are beautiful on the inside. Or at least I hope you are. Nature can’t be that cruel.
2:05 p.m. There’s a confusing joke about how Michael Bolton’s hair was responsible for Mickey Rourke’s success in “The Wrestler” that then dovetails into a Simon Weisenthal Center joke.
2:06 p.m. A fisting joke? Ah, the Indie Spirits. Hugh Jackman may not make any fisting jokes tomorrow night at the Oscars.
2:08 p.m. Anne Hathaway is amused at a “Bride Wars” joke. But no “Get Smart” joke? Even she seems to have expected it.
2:09 p.m. Jonathan Demme allegedly met Coogan at Whole Foods several years ago, but never called him back. “I expected better of you, considering your output,” Coogan says. It’s really just a set-up to a song where Coogan pitches a stereotypical indie film. The crowd really isn’t amused. Debra Winger? Not laughing. Mickey Rourke? Not laughing. The chorus, “They all get molested by a priest,” gets a chuckle or two, but Coogan really should have just sung “Rock Me Sexy Jesus.”
2:12 p.m. “The painful part’s over,” Coogan says, concluding his monologue and introducing Blair Underwood and the lovely Michelle Monaghan to present Best Supporting Male. This is an award show that presents clips for everything. That’s what we get instead of commercials, I guess.
2:16 p.m. James Franco, the biggest name in the supporting male category, wins for “Milk.” He looks dazed and confused in that James Franco fashion. He tells a story about learning from early Gus Van Sant movies and getting to finally work with Van Sant and Sean Penn.
2:17 p.m. Owen Wilson appears by tape talking about his “one for them, one for me policy.” Somebody in a bikini walks behind him, but he says it’s Wes Anderson. Meh?
2:19 p.m. Finally an award show that lets Sir Ben Kingsley and Mary Kate Olsen present together! They did make out in a phone booth in “The Wackness,” so it makes sense. They’re presenting the Best First Screenplay prize.
2:20 p.m. Is the rout on for “Milk”? Dustin Lance Black wins. The dapper screenwriter recalls pitching “Milk” as a spec script that folks described as “awfully gay.” He notes that it’s be 30 years since Harvey Milk was killed and says, “I don’t think we can wait 30 years more. It’s time to achieve his dream.”
2:22 p.m. Aaron Eckhart and Robin Wright Penn present Best First Feature. Geez, this show moves quickly. This is probably the category Coogan was referring to when he talked about nobody having seen the movies, though I’m mighty intrigued by “Afterschool” and “Sleep Dealer.” I take that back, four films that haven’t gotten distribution really and “Synecdoche, New York.”
2:25 p.m. Surely somebody could have taught Eckhart to pronounce “Synecdoche”?
2:26 p.m. The spirit award goes to “Synecdoche.” The other directors in the category are wondering how many movies they could have made for the budget of “Synecdoche.” “I guess it really is a bad title,” Charlie Kaufman deadpans.
2:28 p.m. “Taking drugs are the show today is definitely not cool,” Coogan jokes, telling folks that there are special Amnesty Trashcans for “really good drugs.” He then introduces Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jessica Alba introducing Best Supporting Female.
2:31 p.m. Penelope Cruz wins. Is it bad that I expect more esoteric choices from this show? “They told me here it’s important here to say whatever you want and to swear a lot,” Cruz says. The way she says Woody Allen’s name is a little dirty. She tells a funny story about how Woody had an emergency dermatologist appointment on the day she had to make out with Scarlett Johansson.
2:37 p.m. Taraji P. Henson pops up to sing a song about best picture nominee “Ballast” set to “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” She’s mighty talented and she was my dark horse pick for the Oscars tomorrow.
2:41 p.m. Drew Barrymore couldn’t make it to the show, because she’s waiting on the cable guy. But she sent a taped message. She has a message to Darren Aronofsky about liking a script, telling him, “I have a few reservations about the anal scene.” That’s another line you won’t hear at the Oscars tomorrow.
2:43 p.m. The John Cassavetes Award goes to a film made for under $500,000. The only one of the films I’ve heard of is “In Search of a Midnight Kiss,” though “The Signal” looks pretty funky and “Turn the River” seems to have been made by Chris Eigeman, which has me instantly intrigued.
2:46 p.m. “In Search of a Midnight Kiss” wins. The first person to accept says that he was effectively homeless for nine months to make the budget. The last speaker (IFC really should have IDed the people on the podium) really gets into the swearing spirit. Good for him! He’s making up for Penelope Cruz’s restraint.
2:49 p.m. Robyn Hitchcock sings the “Rachel Getting Married” song, or at least singing “Up to Our Necks”
2:52 p.m. Odd. The next presenters are Christian Bale and Joaquin Phoenix. Or at least it’s Steve Coogan in a Batman suit and somebody I can’t instantly identify with a big beard. They present Best Documentary to “Man on Wire.”
2:56 p.m. “Juno” reunion! Ellen Page and Jason Bateman are presenting Best Female Lead. Oh, Ellen Page, why haven’t we seen you for a year? “Have you quit acting?” Bateman inquires.
2:59 p.m. I can’t help but feel that this show has spoiled the endings for a lot of movies I hadn’t had the chance to see previously.
3:00 p.m. The loudest applause goes to Melissa Leo for “Frozen River.” And she also wins the Spirit Award, perhaps the first award this afternoon that hasn’t gone to the biggest name. Sorry, Anne Hathaway. “You are my people. You know you are my people,” Leo says. She mentions that she has a party to go to tomorrow night.
3:02 p.m. Whoa. Melissa Leo just specifically thanked “bloggers.” CRAZY.
3:05 p.m. I haven’t seen “Wendy and Lucy,” but even the clip reel makes me tear up. That feeling gets pushed aside by Teri Hatcher singing a parody song about the movie. Why do we keep letting Teri Hatcher sing? She really can’t sing. Michelle Williams is amused, though, and all around America, people are happy to see Michelle Williams smile.
3:07 p.m. Grant awards? Interesting. The Someone To Watch grant goes to Lynn Shelton. Having seen her hilarious “Humpday” at Sundance, I couldn’t be happier.
3:10 p.m. The Piaget Producers Award (another grant, apparently) has to do with producers who have overcome obstacles or something. Haven’t the producers of all of these movies overcome obstacles? Isn’t that what this show is about?The winner is Heather Rae for “Frozen River.” To producer tomorrow night will sport as many visible tattoos as Rae does.
3:15 p.m. The third grant comes courtesy of Lacoste, forcing Elizabeth Banks to spit out a long commercial for the sponsor. It’s the Truer Than Fiction Award and it goes to Margaret Brown for “The Order of Myths.”
3:17 p.m. It’s notable that all three grant prizes went to women.
3:18 p.m. Noted screenwriting aficionados Emile Hirsch and Lucy Liu present Best Screenplay. The award goes to Woody Allen for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” Naturally, Woody had other places to be.
3:19 p.m. The “Frozen River” parody to the tune of “Proud Mary” (“Smuggling On a Frozen River”) is sung by Christina Applegate, who sings every bit as well as Teri Hatcher.
3:21 p.m. “I just want to say that I hate Penelope Cruz. Congratulations, you fly b****,” says presenter Rosie Perez, who lost to Cruz earlier in the afternoon.
3:23 p.m. Best Foreign Film goes to “The Class.” The PA plays “We Don’t Need No Education.” Get it? Laurent Cantet says that all he wants as a filmmaker is to make the movie he wants to make. He thanks his producers and collaborations for letting him do that.
3:25 p.m. The guys from “Z Rock” show up to present Best Cinematography. They aren’t movie stars. Their show isn’t funny. But their show is on IFC. They mention this fact to very tepid applause. Lame.
3:27 p.m. Maryse Alberti wins the day’s first award for “The Wrestler.” The “Z Rock” guys also mispronounced Alberti’s first name. IFC should be HUMILIATED.
3:29 p.m. Cameron Diaz is presenting the Robert Altman Award. The award is going to “Synecdoche, New York” and Diaz has “Synecdoche” spelled out phonetically. The first time through, it works. The second time, she stumbles. The third time, she nails it. That’s not bad, Cameron. Several cast members of “Synecdoche” try giving speeches as the music plays them off.
3:35 p.m. Rainn Wilson sings the “Wrestler” song to the tune of “I Feel Good.” He’s dressed up like Randy the Ram. Wilson is a much better singer than either Teri Hatcher or Christina Applegate. Did Mickey Rourke leave? There isn’t a single cutaway to the movie’s star.
3:37 p.m. I hope Rourke comes back, because he’s up for Best Male Lead, which is being presented by Laura Dern and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
3:40 p.m. Rourke is back. Whew.
3:41 p.m. And Rourke wins! Has the Oscar momentum shifted back from Sean Penn? That’s the kind of question Greg Ellwood would want me asking now.
3:43 p.m. Rourke begins by putting out a plea for Eric Roberts to get a comeback of his own. “He deserves a second chance,” he says, urging the filmmakers in the room to “let him fly.” Roberts, from the crowd, yells, “Accept the award.” The Rourke vows to beat Rainn Wilson’s ass. How can Rourke not win? He dedicates the award to his recently deceased dog Loki. Rourke’s speeches have been the highlight of this award season. Unlike Rourke’s Golden Globes speech, this profanity-laced tirade won’t be censored, thankfully. It’s a treasure. He asks the audience who he’s forgotten to thank. Marisa Tomei, apparently. “Not many girls can climb the pole,” he observes with admiration.
3:46 p.m. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Find Rourke’s speech online.
3:48 p.m. Zoey Deschanel and John Waters are paired to present Best Director. They go through patter about the secrets of the dominated films, like that “Chop Shop” actually cost $45 million and that the stars of “Ballast” were really unprofessional.
3:50 p.m. The Spirit Award goes to that lying journalist from “The Wire.” Congrats to Tom McCarthy for “The Visitor.”
3:52 p.m. Dicky Jenkins. Tee-hee.
3:52 p.m. Alec Baldwin gets to present Best Picture, noting “I want back into the movie business so bad.” He makes several other jokes about Rourke’s speech. Rourke sits in the crowd looking eager to Ram-Jam Baldwin.
3:54 p.m. The winner for Best Feature is… “The Wrestler.”
3:56 p.m. Nobody associated with “The Wrestler” this afternoon thought to thank Robert Siegel, who only wrote their darned movie.
3:58 p.m. HitFix will be back tomorrow live-blogging the Oscars!