With HitFix’s awards guru Gregory Ellwood covering the Film Independent Spirit Awards from LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles, live-blogging responsibilities are all mine. Woot! Let the independent blogging begin…
8:01 p.m. PT Eddie Izzard begins the show by expressing disappointment in his initial round of applause. He also has *no* idea what the award show’s name is. It’s 25th Film Independent Spirit Awards. Allegedly.
8:03 p.m. Izzard goes off on a long ramble about how this is the 250th Film Independent Spirit Awards, something about the reason Ben Franklin’s face is on a hundred dollar bill and how much the first indie movies cost. The audience is relatively quiet.
8:04 p.m. “Tonight is about love and envy, because as artists, we’re all damaged people,” he explains, promising that winners will be taken away to the orgy room, sponsored by Acura. He says that nominations plus time equal winners.
8:05 p.m. “Shame and fear, that’s what we want to add to the proceedings,” says Izzard, whose monologue is whizzing by *much* too quickly for the crowd at L.A. Live. He notes a new rule this evening: Winners get the trophy, but losers can also win the trophy, if the kill the winners. In fact, the awards themselves can be used as a weapon, but only by the winners. “I’m serious about this,” Izzard cracks, before suggesting, only half-kidding, that he’s lost them.
Some awards, perhaps, after the break…
8:07 p.m. Rosario Dawson and Colin Farrell are the night’s first presenters. They warn the winners that they’ll have to set the tone for rest of the night. They invite the winner to be funny, or sentimental or naked.
8:09 p.m. Supporting Actor is up first. I always love how this award show gives extended clips for awards of every size. It’s a great way of getting audiences interested in actually seeing one of these tiny movies.
8:10 p.m. The winner is Woody Harrelson for “The Messenger.” He’s expected to lose to Christoph Waltz on Sunday at the Oscars, but this is nice recognition for a widely admired performance. “I wasn’t expecting this. I guess everybody says this, but I genuinely wasn’t,” Woody insists, before telling his fellow nominees that they’re all better. “It’s never felt right to me to declare a winner,” he says, eventually adding, “Of course now, it feels a little more right.” He ends a gracious and humble speech with a John Cassavetes reference, which plays well in this house.
8:17 p.m. Emile Hirsch and Regina King are presenting Best First Feature, a category that includes several Oscar nominees and… “Paranormal Activity.” Let it never be said that these awards are snobby. The award goes to “Crazy Heart.”
8:19 p.m. “He never directed a high school play before,” Robert Duvall says of director Scott Cooper. Cooper says that most of the films he sees each year are independent films, but he also says he only sees 25 films per year. I saw that many films in a week at Sundance. In the true spirit of independent film, Cooper has to thank Fox. Cooper goes back and forth between calling Duvall “Bob” and “Mr. Duvall,” which is charming. It’s also charming when he breaks into tears thanking his wife. Awww…
8:21 p.m. “Hangover” and “Community” star Ken Jeong repeats Eddie Izzard’s joke urging the crowd to clap louder. Jeong says he loves to be stopped and asked to recite dialogue from “The Hangover.” He’s presenting a series of clips from the five most popular Indie Spirit acceptance speeches. Up first is Paul Giamatti’s acceptance for “Sideways.”
8:23 p.m. Best First Screenplay is presented by Jason Bateman and the spectacular Vera Farmiga, who begin by joking that this category’s nominees are seated farthest away. “It’s just that the people from Netflix really needed the space up front,” Farmiga cracks.
8:25 p.m. Anybody else get the feeling that Maggie Gyllenhaal is falling out of her dress as this night progresses? And that one of these cutaways she’ll be topless? Or is it just me?
8:26 p.m. The winner is Geoffrey Fletcher for “Precious.” He begins by thanking Sapphire. That doesn’t happen often at award shows. Everybody has been so heart-felt and earnest tonight. So much emotion. Fletcher cries remembering his late father and thanking his mother.
8:29 p.m. Oh right. Lenny Kravitz was in “Precious.” That explains why he’s here. It doesn’t explain why he’s wearing sunglasses. Inside. At night.
8:30 p.m. “Bob” Duvall introduces a performance of “Falling and Flying” from “Crazy Heart,” with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Bingham taking the stage.
8:32 p.m. Jeff Bridges is the man. Well, he’s The Dude. But really, Jeff Dowd is The Dude, so Bridges can just be The Man. Also, in a commercial-free awards telecast, I appreciate musical performances, because I can use them as breaks to actually press “post.”
8:33 p.m. Pierce Brosnan and the lovely Marisa Tomei are presenting the award for Supporting Mo’Nique. Oh. Sorry. Supporting Female.
8:34 p.m. Mo’Nique showed up for this show!
8:36 p.m. See? I’d never even heard of “Fifty Dead Men Walking,” but after that clip of Natalie Press, I’m truly intrigued.
8:37 p.m. The Spirit Award goes to Mo’Nique. Because everything goes to Mo’Nique. She brings her husband/manager up on stage with her. “Wow,” Mo’Nique says, as if she’d never won an award before. She calls Gabby Sidibe, “a special gift to the universe.”
8:39 p.m. Another classic Spirit Awards moment. “Classic,” indeed! It’s Felicity Huffman telling a long story about the perils of independent film production.
8:40 p.m. Izzard returns, but only briefly. He cautions potential winners about the words that apparently can’t be used. He also references that they’re in “a tent on a car park.” Oh, Eddie. We’re in America. It’s a parking lot.
8:41 p.m. It’s a clip from “(500) Days of Summer.” Followed by a filmed bit with Film Independent’s Dawn Hudson strategizing her speech with the help of a writer. Dawn Hudson is, um, not a great actress. She says nice things about independent film about about the show’s various sponsors.
8:45 p.m. And now Dawn Hudson’s on stage. She’s presenting a directing fellowship to Jen Arnold. No. She’s not presenting anything, actually. She’s just saying Jen Arnold’s name.
8:45 p.m. Andy Garcia and Mariah Carey are presenting the award for cinematography, which Garcia admits is “because they used a dart board to cast this show.” Mariah’s playing dumb. It could be funnier. Garcia looks like he’s a ringmaster at a zoo attempting to work with a live tiger. He’s wary.
8:47 p.m. Roger Deakins wins for “A Serious Man.” He’s a deserving winner but, alas, he’s nowhere to be seen. “If people don’t show up, I get the awards,” Izzard says, with Deakins sadly absent.
8:48 p.m. Izzard has to retract his earlier statement that there is no God. This show is live on the Internet and in Spain. “And that’s it,” Izzard cracks. It’s possibly also going out to New Zealand and France. New Zealand is a sponsor, so Izzard plugs the nation before introducing a clip from “Sin Nombre.”
8:50 p.m. Derek Luke won an award for Best Male Lead back in the day. Now he’s on “Trauma,” which returns to NBC on Monday.
8:51 p.m. Will Arnett and Ed Helms are presenting the John Cassavetes Award. They go through a bit about how the two of them used to live with John Cassavetes, who liked to smoke pot and cook with hot dogs. It turns out that they knew a *different* John Cassavetes. Hmmm… I’m not sure if this is funny or disrespectful. This award goes to a feature made for under $500,000 and includes several of my favorites from Sundance 2009, including “Big Fan” and “Humpday.”
8:55 p.m. The category also includes several movies which didn’t play at Sundance and which 99.999 percent of audiences have never heard of, much less seen. And that is why this award show is actually important. Go Indie Spirit!
8:56 p.m. The award goes to “Humpday.” Fun. In the audience, “Big Fan” star Patton Oswalt pours himself a big glass of whiskey. Director Lynn Shelton also won an award at this telecast last year. She puts her award down to do the end of her speech in sign language for her family.
9:00 p.m. It’s The Whitest Kids You Know, presenting the Robert Altman Award to the full team behind “A Serious Man.” The clip package begins with the Stella Artois logo blocking the clips. Classy. Since “A Serious Man” is unlikely to beat the odds and win anything at the Oscars on Sunday, I couldn’t be happier that the best film of 2009 is getting some recognition tonight.
9:02 p.m. Again, the Stella logo blocks the cast and filmmakers for “A Serious Men” as they arrive on stage. Ellen Chenoweth accepts the prize first, making sure we know that she’s a casting director. The Brothers Coen are on location for “True Grit.”
9:05 p.m. Why wasn’t Michael Stuhlbarg nominated for an Oscar?
9:06 p.m. More jokes from Izzard about the lack of enthusiasm from the audience. And another joke about the absence of God. A Werner Von Braun joke loses everybody. When people go back and watch Izzard in slo-mo, they’ll probably see he’s had some great lines. Maybe.
9:08 p.m. They’ve been cutting away to Olivia Wilde and now she’s on stage. She’s with John Waters, who talks about his camp appreciation for “Precious,” watching with friends in costume and shouting the lyrics at the screen. Waters makes his pitch for “Son of Precious,” which sounds like a hit to me.
9:09 p.m. Wilde and Walters are presenting fellowships. The first one, the Acura Someone to Watch, goes to Kyle Patrick Alvarez, director of “Easier with Practice.” He thanks his parents and his partner.
9:12 p.m. The Piaget Producers Award goes to Karen Chien.
9:13 p.m. Taraji P. Henson and Matt Dillon are presenting the Chaz and Roger Ebert Truer Than Fiction Award, beginning with a clip package of Ebert’s harshest television pans. Ebert is in the crowd and, after a little bit of waiting, the morons in the audience finally realize that they’re supposed to give the guy a standing ovation. It takes a while, but they make it to their feet and Ebert joins them. Henson and Dillon thank Ebert for saying nice things about them..
9:16 p.m. The Ebert-sponsored award goes to a documentary filmmaker and includes a $25,000 fellowship. The winner is Bill Ross and Turner Ross.
9:17 p.m. The winners were hidden backstage, producing a hilarious moment with Henson looking out into the audience and the filmmakers sneaking up behind her. Whichever Ross makes the speech starts by saying, “This for first off means we can pay the rent next month.” He continues by thanking their mother, “Our producer, literally.” The brothers, clearly inebriated, say they were drinking whiskey with Dave Grohl. It’s that kinda show.
9:19 p.m. Oh, Carey Mulligan. So adorable. She’s presenting with Ethan Hawke. They’re handling Best Screenplay, a category that includes my college friend Scott Neustadter, who co-wrote “(500) Days of Summer.” You’ll forgive me if I do a little rooting now.
9:22 p.m. YAY!!! GO SCOTT! The winners, Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber!
9:23 p.m. I couldn’t be more chuffed for Scott and for Michael Weber. Scott is two years older than I am, even if he looks 12. Mike, though, may actually be 12.
9:26 p.m. Saw “Amreeka” at Sundance last year. Detested it. Go figure.
9:26 p.m. Dave Grohl is here tonight to celebrate “Anvil!” I wouldn’t say that Dave Grohl is drunk, but I’m also not certain if his appearance is planned.
9:27 p.m. Ah, it’s actually a performance by the band Anvil and not just an intro to the documentary. This performance will be even funnier if Dawn Hudson refuses to pay them when they’re done.
9:31 p.m. I’m havin’ a little seizure here on my couch. Thanks, Anvil and your aggressive light show!
9:32 p.m. End of Anvil performance, cut to Elton John in the crowd? Well done.
9:33 p.m. Maria Bello and Lenny Kravitz, still wearing those sunglasses, are presenting Best Documentary.
9:34 p.m. “Anvil!” (the documentary) wins. Anvil (the band) had no idea what to do next. Anvil’s Lips gives Sacha Gervasi a big hug to end the speech.
9:39 p.m. Laura Dern tells a long story. Meanwhile, Greg wants me to ponder the presence of so many “True Blood” stars, or at least Sam Trammell and Ryan Kwanten, at this event. Meanwhile? A montage of independent film. Lots of David Lynch. Lots of Quentin Tarantino. Perhaps not enough Jim Jarmusch and John Sayles (for my personal tastes).
9:43 p.m. In the night’s funniest line, David Spade is referred to as a “14-Time Independent Spirit Award winner.” He’s presenting Foreign Film and runs through a list of international titles for his own movies. Those titles are a good deal less funny than the presence of David Spade at this show at all. The award goes to “An Education.” I can’t say that “An Education” isn’t foreign. Director Lone Scherfig towers over David Spade.
9:48 p.m. “Jack Goes Boating” stars Amy Ryan and Philip Seymour Hoffman pay tribute to the brevity of the telecast. They also are presenting Best Female Lead. Strangely, presumptive Oscar favorites Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep are nowhere to be seen in this category. The category’s loudest applause are for Gabourey Sidibe. [Why wasn’t Carey Mulligan nominated here?[
9:49 p.m. The winner? Gabourey Sidibe! I can’t tell if it’s a full standing ovation, but it’s pretty close.
9:52 p.m. “Stop. I’ll get nervous,” Sidibe tells the crowd. As anybody who has seen her do talk shows in recent months already knows, she’s ridiculously charming and likable. If Sidibe had had the opportunity to meet every Oscar voter personally, she’d be winning on Sunday night.
9:54 p.m. Eddie Izzard’s back to remind us that there is no God.
9:54 p.m. Thanks, Sponsors! Eddie says that they should fill a car with sponsored goodies and give that car to Anvil.
9:56 p.m. Maggie Gyllenhaal, still barely keeping her dress on, and Ryan Reynolds take the stage to propose a toast to independent movies. This is nobody’s first drink of the night.
9:57 p.m. Maggie insists on saying Jeff Bridges’ name, as they read the nominees for Best Male lead. It’s cute.
9:58 p.m. The award goes to… Maggie gets to say the name again… Jeff Bridges.
10:00 p.m. Maggie’s as happy for Jeff as Jeff is.
10:01 p.m. Awwww… Warm fuzzies as Bridges calls Maggie for a hug mid-speech. That even makes me a bit misty. Bridges is so low-key and relaxed about this, but her enthusiasm is infection.
10:04 p.m. Bridges is allowed to talk as long as he wants.
10:05 p.m. Bridges closes his speech by announcing, “This is really gonna tie the room together, baby!”
10:06 p.m. “Jeff’s awesome,” says presenter Jeremy Renner. “He’s slow and he’s awesome,” adds co-presenter Jodie Foster.
10:06 p.m. James Cameron is not nominated for Best Actor.
10:07 p.m. I wonder why the Film Independent voters loved “The Last Station” so much more than anybody else.
10:07 p.m. Your winner is Lee Daniels. It’s been a big night for “Precious.” He begins with “Kathryn Bigelow’s not here tonight… I am.”
10:10 p.m. Daniels and Mo’Nique share a long series of looks. He tells Lenny Kravitz he loves him, but adds, “It ain’t like that.”
10:11 p.m. The music begins playing. Really? They’re playing off Best Director at THIS show? That’s a little shameful.
10:11 p.m. Ben Stiller is presenting Best Picture. Is there any doubt that it’s “Precious.”
10:12 p.m. “I think it says volumes about the organizers of this event that even though I’ve been in over 350 big-budget studio movies over the past five years, the Spirit Awards were bold enough to say, ‘You, Ben Stiller, epitomize our core values,” Stiller cracks. “And what are those core values? I couldn’t tell you if you paid me. Which you obviously have, since I’m here.”
10:13 p.m. “Today I represent a group rarely heard from in show business… Jews. Finally our chance,” Still says. He’s on a roll.
10:14 p.m. “One thing is clear… Anyone channel-surfing at this hour is looking for porn.”
10:15 p.m. Three “independent porn stars” join Stiller on stage. Their names? Maggie Jizz-n-Balls, Parker Pússy and Philip Semen Hoffman.The porn stars strip and hump as the Best Film nominees are read aloud. Ah, the spirit of independent film.
10:15 p.m. The Spirit Award goes to “Precious.” We’re all glad a story of sexual abuse is being honored with fake porn stars off in the wings. “Look at all these precious muthaf***ers,” Lee Daniels says, before first thanking Dame Helen Mirren for teaching him how to direct. Cynics will say it’s too bad Dame Helen didn’t teach Daniels to direct *before* he made “Shadowboxer.”
10:16 p.m. Anvil returns to the stage to convince a car park of Hollywood types that they have exactly one song.
10:17 p.m. It’s been a pleasure sharing this thing with y’all…
What’d you think of either the Film Independent award show or the awards themselves?