Spotlight, the indie film that has been in the awards discussion all season and is up for six Oscars tomorrow, warmed up by taking home five awards at the 31st annual Spirit Awards today on the beach in Santa Monica. The Open Road/Participant Films drama about the Boston Globe‘s investigation into the Boston Catholic Church’s cover-up of a child abuse scandal swept in all the categories it was up for: Best Feature Film, Best Director for Tom McCarthy, Best Screenplay for McCarthy and Josh Singer, and Best Editing for Tom McArdle. It also accepted organizer Film Independent’s Robert Altman Award for best ensemble cast.
The show — someone subdued compared to the past couple of years — was hosted by SNL‘s Kate McKinnon and Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani and aired live on IFC.
Other winners included another Oscar hopeful, Room‘s Brie Larson, who continued her momentum with a win for Best Female Lead. The film’s writer Emma Donoghue won for Best First Screenplay. On the men’s side, it was young Abraham Attah of Beasts Of No Nation who took home the Best Male Actor prize, joining his co-star Idris Elba who won Best Supporting Actor for the wrenching Netflix drama, which was left out of the Oscar noms but drew big cheers each time it was mentioned during the show.
Mya Taylor, meanwhile, made history when the transgender actress won the Best Supporting Actress trophy for Tangerine, Sean Baker’s film shot using iPhones. It had also been up for Best Feature along with Spotlight, Paramount’s animated Anomalisa, Beasts Of No Nation and the Weinstein Company’s Carol.
Oscar favorite Son Of Saul won the Best International Film award, cementing its front-runner status for tomorrow. Another Oscar nom, Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look Of Silence, also won, for Best Documentary. Meanwhile, Marielle Heller’s The Diary Of A Teenage Girl won the Best First Feature Award, while Trey Edward Shults’ Krisha won the John Cassavetes Award for best feature made for less than $500,000.
Of note is the fact that Participant Media had a huge night, as the production outfit had a hand in Spotlight, Beasts of No Nation, and The Look of Silence. “Participant Media is extraordinarily proud of its most successful night ever at this year’s Film Independent Spirit Awards,” the company said about the eight wins those films collectively won. “So we appreciate Michael Sugar’s remarks while accepting the award for Best Feature for Spotlight during the ceremony, ‘Participant is all over these awards tonight, so they deserve to be congratulated for their courage and their tenacity in making quality independent film, and some good studio ones too.’ It’s our honor to support films where great entertainment inspires real engagement and action from audiences around the world.”
Here’s the full list of winners:
BEST FEATURE FILM
Producers: Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Michael Sugar
BEST FEMALE LEAD
BEST MALE LEAD
Beasts Of No Nation
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Son of Saul (Hungary)
Director: László Nemes
Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
(Best Feature Under $500,000)
Writer/Director/Producer: Trey Edward Shults
Producers: Justin R. Chan, Chase Joliet, Wilson Smith
BEST FIRST FEATURE
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Director: Marielle Heller
Producers: Miranda Bailey, Anne Carey, Bert Hamelinck, Madeline Samit
Robert Altman Award (Best Ensemble)
Director: Tom McCarthy
Casting Directors: Kerry Barden and Paul Schnee
Ensemble Cast: Billy Crudup, Paul Guilfoyle, Neal Huff, Brian d’Arcy James, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Jamey Sheridan, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci
The Look Of Silence
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
Producer: Signe Byrge Sørensen
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Beasts Of No Nation
Piaget Producers Award
Truer Than Fiction Award
Director: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award
Director: Felix Thompson