UPDATED: Netflix reigned supreme at the Film Independent Spirit Awards in the ceremony’s return to the Santa Monica Beach given the pandemic’s ease, with the streamer collecting three wins for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter including Best Feature.
The Endeavor Content produced movie is up for three Oscar noms, including Gyllenhaal for Best Adapted Screenplay, Olivia Colman for Best Actress, and Jessie Buckley for Best Supporting Actress, who was passed over at the Spirits today for Ruth Negga, star of Neflix’s Passing. Gyllenhaal took home both Best Screenplay and Director at the Spirits. Netflix also saw wins for Passing in Best Cinematography and Lee Jung-jae for Best Male Performance in a New Scripted series, that being for the mega-hit, Squid Game.
Shifting from its traditional immediate pre-Oscars perch, the Film Independent Spirit Awards returned today with a live and in-person ceremony near the Santa Monica pier.
Hosted by power couple Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman amidst strict-ish Covid 19 safety protocols, the 2 PM PT starting 37th annual Indie Spirits is in a far different lane than the Academy Awards this year — and we don’t just mean because all their winner will be live on the show.
“If you don’t win, you can walk straight into the ocean, right there,” Offerman told the room onstage at the beginning of the show which ran three hours.
Unlike most past years, the marque films up for Best Picture at the Indie Spirits Sunday are not similar to those nominated at Oscars on March 27. In what can be read as a welcomed return to the Indie Spirits’ roots, A Chiara, C’mon C’mon, The Lost Daughter, The Novice and Zola were in the running for Best Feature. Factoid: The latter two movies led the overall pack with five and seven total nominations, respectively.
Expect some overlap between the Oscars and the Indie Spirits: After taking up Best Supporting Actor at the SAGs, Coda Troy Kotsur won again in the category tonight in his lead-up to the Oscars. Lost Daughter filmmaker Gyllenhaal has a great momentum here at the Spirits heading into Oscar night, also winning Best Screenplay and Best Director. Summer of Soul won Best Documentary today and that Questlove-directed omvie is also nominated in the category at the Oscars.
The Indie Spirits aired live EST on IFC today. Subscribers to the corporate cousin streamer AMC+ were also able to watch the show live. This 2022 Indie Spirits show is additionally available for the first time at select AMC Theatres via the AMC Stubs program.
Attendees for today’s Indie Spirits included NEON Boss Tom Quinn, Bleecker Street CEO Andrew Karpen, super lawyer Nina Shaw, Sony Pictures Classics co-head Tom Bernard and Michael Barker, Reservations Dogs co-creator Sterlin Harjo, Landmark Theatres President Kevin Holloway and more.
Honorary chair and Oscar nominee Kristen Stewart were among the presenters along with Dianna Agron, Javier Bardem, Murray Bartlett, Jennifer Beals, Rosario Dawson, Daveed Diggs, Zola’s Colman Domingo, Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Hannah Einbinder, Bridget Everett, and Andrew Garfield. In addition, upcoming Oscar co-host Regina Hall, Lily James, Marlee Matlin, Bob Odenkirk, Sam Richardson, Rhea Seehorn, Sebastian Stan, Sydney Sweeney, Taika Waititi, Michelle Yeoh and Nomandland and Eternals herlmer Chloé Zhao were among those taking the stage.
The show kicked off with a pre-reel where Offerman told wife Mullally that he’s nervous. She then bends down in an attempt try to relax him before they’re interrupted by Sarah Silverman who is wheeled in a glass case as the ‘back-up host’. The backstage attendant tells Offerman and Mullally that since they joined Twitter before 2015, in case anything surfaces about their history resurfaces, they have Silverman on hand in case they’re cancelled.
Later during their monologue, Offerman beamed, “Movies are back!” to which Mullally snapped “They’re not going to see your movies.”
She added she saw A24’s Red Rocket six times. “You watched it three more times than me,” responded Offerman. The movie follows a wash-up porn star who returns to his small Texas hometown.
There was plenty of warm support expressed by presenters and winners for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, but nothing as profound as Succession‘s Brian Cox’s statements at the SAG Awards last weekend, in which the actor exclaimed, the Russia-Ukraine conflict is “particularly awful in terms of what is affected the other people particularly in our profession”.
However, Mullally and Offerman had a more blunt message:
“F**k off and go home, Putin,” slammed Mullally.
“That’s the quick and peaceful resolution we’re that we’re talking about…” said Offerman. They both sent the oligarch an Indie Spirits message in their words: They both gave him the bird.
Here’s the full list of winners:
The Lost Daughter
Gyllenhaal remarked backstage that the role of writer-director will remain in the cards for her as opposed to acting, “Writer/director was always the plan. I miss acting. I have the fantasy of someone really brilliant and exciting coming and asking me to do something and falling into their arms without any of the responsibility of the rest of these chops. The thing I’m not really into maybe ever anymore is the compromise that’s too massive as an actress where you see something and a you think, ‘Well, maybe if, okay, fine, I’ll just try and create something and do something with this.’ I don’t want to do that anymore. I would rather try and create something myself. That’s what I’m thinking about and that’s what gets me hot.”
BEST MALE LEAD
Simon Rex, Red Rocket
“My career was in the toilet, I moved out to Joshua Tree thinking it was over,” said Rex about being in the business for 25 years, “then I got a call from Sean.”
“We shot this film during Covid, even finishing it was ambitious,” adds Rex “I’m just grateful for Sean’s trust in me.”
The movie was made for $1m with ten person crew; “we were hiding from the police,” added Rex to great applause in the tent.
BEST FEMALE LEAD
Taylour Paige, Zola
Paige, in tears, confessed “I worte something because I’m not eloquent and I’m drunk!” She shared that the day she learned of her nomination, her grandmother had passed. “I hope to keep attempting, it’s so hard to make movies,” said Paige giving great thanks to director Janicza Bravo.
In the press tent, Paige spoke about the pic’s journey from pre-pandemic Sundance 2020, when Zola made its world premiere, and how times have changed: “(It was) a very long one as we’re grieving with the whole world. That weekend that our film premiered was the best day of my life and then Kobe Bryant died so we were all mourning someone. Two months later we were locked in our houses. I was excited at first, not for the illness, but that we were reflecting and with ourselves. I thought maybe something good could come from this. Here we are two years later, starting a war. I’m devastated and disappointed that we keep doing the same shit.”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Troy Kotsur, Coda
“My character, Frank Rossi, the difference between a Gloucester and Santa Monica deaf fisherman is that they can’t afford a cheap beer here in Santa Monica,” Kotsur said through an interpreter onstage.
Backstage, Kotsur added, “I feel like I’ve received an honorary PhD as a nominee because of my long journey. It takes doctors a long time to get their PhDs so I feel the same. Really, it was an extremely tough journey. The choices I made led me to where I am today.”
He also added, “What was most challenging for me was, producers of independent films often have fear wondering if there is marketability in having authenticity in casting deaf actors. To have that confidence, sometimes I feel like a little bug on the ground. Now I’m a big bug. Now they can finally see me and so I can say, ‘Hello, we’ve grown and deaf folks can make change for hotel better. Hollywood can have open hearts and open minds and give more inclusion to more diverse groups.”
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Drive My Car (Japan)
Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Producer Teruhisha Yamamoto said backstage, “In this line of movies like in the US I didn’t imagine it would be this loved by so many people” about the pic’s momentum during awards season.
“I’m in disbelief,” said the producer about this trip to the U.S., “After the fact, my soul kind of catches up and everything sinks in a little later. It’s been a wonderful, I’ve ad a wonderful time here. It’s a wonderful country.”
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
Given to the best feature made for under $500,000 (Award given to the writer, director and producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)
Writer/Director/Producer: Emma Seligman
Producers: Kieran Altmann, Katie Schiller, Lizzie Shapiro
Summer of Soul, dir. by Questlove.
Backstage, Questlove beamed, “We’re happy to be the conduit but we’re really just representing people who’s stories have been buried for so long.”
“For a lot of people, I didn’t realize that seeing this footage would have brought something emotionally out of them,” said Questlove, “It totally has. Even Sheila E told me she was doing everything in her power to not start crying when she saw the footage of Ray Barretto.”
“I have to credit our editor Josh. We’re both sons of hip hop. When you’re a teenager listening to Public Enemy, the way their music is like throw everything against the wall and see what colors are there, we speak that language. There’s definitely a rhythm there that goes to the era of music we listened to,” he added.
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Michael Sarnoski; Story by Vanessa Block, Michael Sarnoski, Pig
Backstage, Sanroski said about the movie in which Nicolas Cage plays a former chef and truffle hunter whose pig is stolen, “We knew Nic was the right match after our first lunch with him he 100% understood the character and understood the very specific tone of the movie. We didn’t have to coax much out of him. He just really got it. It was this beautiful collaboration, we’d kind of just come up with ideas on set and seeing how he developed it. A lot was on the page and he brought such soul and presence to it.”
Block added, “He was in a place in his own personal life where there was this seamless inhabiting of the character rob. He talked often about how he wasn’t even much as playing a character. He was stepping into something authentic to what he was going through at the time. There was something real and genuine about what he did with that.… We didn’t write it with Nic in mind. We didn’t write it with anybody in mind. We just thought of an older man with a pig in the woods. “
BEST FIRST FEATURE
Director: Roshan Sethi
Producers: Liz Cardenas, Mel Eslyn
Joi McMillon, Zola
The Lost Daughter, Maggie Gyllenhaal.
“I feel there’s a real conscious effort being made for different spaces and voices, and I’ve been the beneficiary of that,” said Gyllenhaal.
“My film isn’t just for women, but for everyone. As soon as I was born, I was able to speak the language of the men around me, it was matter of survival,” the filmmaker continued, “I could understand the roots and subtlies of a lot of great movies.” She gave a shoutout to her “North star,” husband and The Batman actor Peter Sarsgaard.
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Ruth Negga, Passing
Negga beat out Jessie Buckley, who is up at the Oscars in the category for The Lost Daughter. Negga beamed in her thanks.
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
(Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast)
Director: Fran Kranz
Casting Directors: Henry Russell Bergstein, Allison Estrin
Ensemble Cast: Kagen Albright, Reed Birney, Michelle N. Carter, Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Breeda Wool
Kranz shared a funny story that he was kicked out of the world premiere of Altman’s Short Cuts at Cannes. He was 12 and his dad scored tickets. “Some usher at the festival came over and said ‘you’re a kid, you can’t watch this.’ I thought it was un-European and wonder who this Robert Altman guy was.”
“I saw (the movie) eventually and knew why they kicked me out of there,” hinted Franz at the risque scenes in the film. But what he did see in Short Cuts “was the depth of acting and ensemble; I saw how different experiences can still be shared…it confirmed my suspicions about Robert Altman and his films that they are the gold standard of what we do here.”
BEST NEW SCRIPTED SERIES
Creators/Executive Producers: Sterlin Harjo, Taika Waititi
Executive Producer: Garrett Basch
Harjo said in accepting the award on stage, “we didn’t want a handout, we just wanted an opportunity to tell our stories.”
“It’s been the craziest years of my life, stressful beautiful very rewarding. Also thought about walking in front of a train but it was great. In the end it was all good. It’s been a whirlwind and my life’s changed. To be able to share what we share with this show has been a blessing. People really needed something hopeful but truthful during this pandemic,” said Harjo backstage.
“It was about just getting the opportunity to tell this story on the level we did. Taika and Garrett made that happen at FX. I was a guy off the streets. There’s no reason I would have even gotten in the lobby but they walked me through the lobby into a room where there were executives with money. They greenly the show and let us make the show. They also trusted us and let us hire indigenous writers and directors to tell the story. I’m more proud of what’s going to come after this because of what we proved, that they gave us the opportunities and we stepped up and did it,” added Harjo.
BEST ENSEMBLE CAST IN A NEW SCRIPTED SERIES
Ensemble Cast: Devery Jacobs, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Lane Factor, Paulina Alexis, Sarah Podemski, Zahn McClarnon, Lil Mike, FunnyBone
BEST NEW NON-SCRIPTED OR DOCUMENTARY SERIES
Black and Missing
Series By/Executive Producers: Soledad O’Brien, Geeta Gandbhir
Executive Producers: Jo Honig, Patrick Conway, Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller, Sara Rodriguez
BEST MALE PERFORMANCE IN A NEW SCRIPTED SERIES
Lee Jung-jae, Squid Game
BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE IN A NEW SCRIPTED SERIES
Thuso Mbedu, The Underground Railroad
Said Mbedu, “For me, it was a great challenge to tell the story because it is a very important story. I wanted it to go to whoever could tell it as authentically and respectfully as possible. I did a lot of research going into it guided by Barry (Jenkins). I do hope people will get the chance to receive it for what it is without me feeling like I imposed my notions onto it. “
“My very first conversation with Barry happened early 2019. It was just him getting to know me as a person. And then having gotten the role, Barry is a very collaborative director. It was more about what I found for the character more than anything and him supporting that. IT was evident with moments on set. If we made an offer, he would change the script to accommodate that which we had offered.”
Edu Grau, Passing
(The Producers Award, now in its 24th year, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent films.)
Brad Becker-Parton , Pin-Chun Liu, Lizzie Shapiro
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