SANTA MONICA UPDATED: The always loose Film Independent Spirit Award winners were presented this afternoon by the non-profit arts organization that produces the Los Angeles Film Festival. Comedian Joel McHale served as host of the 26th annual event and was very funny. He did a taped bit fretting about hosting in his dressing room with appearances first by John Waters and then Banksy (in a hoodie) who was then revealed to be Alex Trebek. Then during his monologue which was, frankly, as filthy as it was truthful), he said to a huge laugh, “2010 in independent cinema will go down in cinematic history as The Year Of Cunnilingus. Blue Valentine, Greenberg, Black Swan, Kids Are All Right — what do they have in common? They are all about eating lunch down at the ‘Y’. Blow jobs are the domain of major studio films.” He also made fun of the filmmakers and their films, like congratulating Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours director Danny Boyle for “going from making the most harrowing infomercial ever for India tourism to the most harrowing Mountain Dew commercial ever.” Like predicting that Jesse Eisenberg would be “Murdered by Michael Cera”. And referring to Best Feature presenters Don Cheadle and Uma Thurman as “the Fart Police” (whatever that means).

Best Feature included many Academy Award nominees like 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Kids Are All Right, and Winter’s Bone. Announced ahead of time was that Please Give was selected for the Robert Altman Award, which is given to one film’s director, casting director, and ensemble cast. The Spirit Awards returned to the beach for this year’s ceremony after last year’s flop of a show in Downtown Los Angeles. The awards air exclusively tonight on IFC at 10:00 PM ET/PT. But that also meant a plethora of patience-testing commercial breaks during the live show. (Coverage by Deadline awards columnist Pete Hammond and freelancer Diane Haithman):

2011 Film Independent Spirit Award Winners

fred
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3 years
Brian Oliver the smartest and most low key guy in Hollywood. Plus a ton of integrity, deserves...
addison
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3 years
Portman deserves it and Oscar and especially more than that shrill-voiced overactress Bening. I`m just concerend that...
Volunteer
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3 years
I volunteered for Spirit this year for the first time. Everyone busted their asses for weeks/months and...

Best Feature: Black Swan, Producers: Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer, Brian Oliver

Analyzes Deadline’s Pete Hammond: “Interesting choice. I thought it might be a Winter’s Bone crowd. But the prospect of an indie movie making as much as it had was probably irresistable to the indie
community. The 4 other noms didn’t come close to making collectively what Black Swan did.”

Best Director: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan

Dissed Aronofsky in his acceptance speech: “Producer Brian Oliver and his company made a really terrible deal to get this movie made. People said they would never make money on it and now they are fucking rich.” Backstage, he was asked why theatergoers forked over so much moolah to see his film: “I’ve got no fuckin’ idea. But it’s really exciting. The word that keeps coming back to me is ‘fun’ — people are having fun seeing it.”

Best Female Lead: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Natalie made a funny in her acceptance speech: “We had the bond company on set for two months on a 2 1/2-month shoot. The ballerinas were wondering, ‘When am I gonna get paid?'”

Best Male Lead: James Franco, 127 Hours

This award was presented very early in the show, even before Best Supporting Male, perhaps because Franco has to get back to his Oscars hosting rehearsals. James said in his acceptance speech, “I just went through film school and just finished my thesis film, so this means a
lot. It was a once in a lifetime experience.”

Best Supporting Male: John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone

Best Supporting Female: Dale Dickey, Winter’s Bone

Best Screenplay: Kids Are All Right, Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko

Highlight of their acceptance speeches was when Stuart Blumberg said:
“There’s one thing we have wanted to do for years” — and then he and Lisa Cholodenko locked lips in a passionate embrace…

Best Foreign Film: The King’s Speech (United Kingdom): Director: Tom Hooper

This was the only Spirit Awards category that Oscar frontrunner was eligible. Said Tom Hooper in his acceptance speech:  “This was a true independent film.” Backstage, Hooper elaborated: “It will always be about thanking the people who helped you go on the journey. It was very tough to get it made. People were not lining up to finance The King’s Speech.” He said he hasn’t read the predictions that film will sweep the Academy Awards on Sunday. And he only knows if The Royal Family have seen it because of news reports. but he was well versed on the film’s recent MPAA news. “I understand  the MPAA said that, if we drop the audio of the ‘fucks’ out, they were willing to release it as PG-13. I’ll see that version on Monday and I can comment better then. I’m really very unhappy that kids have been discouraged from seeing it.”

Best Documentary: Exit Through Gift Shop, Director: Banksy

No sign of Banksy although this wpuld be the place for him! But France’s Thierry Guetta accepted the award for the reclusive performance artist / graffiti painter who made the film. “I had a speech but forgot it at the hotel. I would like to give this to Banksy. If you have a dream, just do it. Where I come from even a plane could not take you there. But this is real. It’s all real… I love everyone.”

John Cassavetes Award (best feature made for under $500,000): Daddy Longlegs, Writer/Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, Producers: Casey Neistat, Tom Scott

The director slipped and fell flat on his back onstage. But that didn’t stop him from going on and on for his acceptance speech…

Best First Feature: Get Low, Director: Aaron Schneider, Producers: David Gundlach, Dean Zanuck

Best Cinematography: Matthew Libatique, Black Swan

Libatique said he’s “a happy man” and said about his Spirit, “This is my Academy Award.” He went on to explain that the digital vs film argument over Black Swan “is blown out of proportion. The one thing is that, with digital, a lot of people who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to make films are making films.” About the experience of making the film, “I  didn’t get enough hugs and kisses [from Natalie Portman]. It’s work. I have fun after the fact. It’s heavy lifting otherwise. We just worked hard, put our heads together, and tried to make a good film.”

Best First Screenplay: Tiny Furniture, Lena Dunham