The racially charged thriller Get Out was the big winner at Independent Spirit Awards – seen as the low-budget Oscars and the curtain-raiser to the biggest weekend in the film awards calendar.
It was named best film, as well as securing Jordan Peele the best director prize. Collecting his award from the veteran director Spike Lee, Peele said he wouldn’t be standing there if it hadn’t been for him.
The acting awards generally followed the familiar pattern of the season, with Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell repeating their previous Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor successes for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. There was also another best supporting actress award for Allison Janney for I, Tonya. But the other Oscar-favourite, Gary Oldman, wasn’t in contention at the Spirits, because Darkest Hour was a bigger-budget studio film, so the best actor honours went to for Timothée Chalamet for Call Me By Your Name, beating a strong field, including Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya, Good Time‘s Robert Pattinson and The Disaster Artist‘s James Franco.
The six thousand, or so, members of the LA-based Film Independent organisation gave their best screenplay award to Greta Gerwig for her acclaimed awards-contender, the pithy coming-of-age film Lady Bird. “Thank you to my parents for watching the plays that I put on in the living room and thank you to my brother and sister for acting in them,” she said, as she collected her trophy.
As an award that honours the lower-budget end of the film industry, among the prizes handed out at the Spirits are a handful aimed at recognising future film-makers. Among them, the Best First Feature award went to Matt Spicer for Ingrid Goes West and Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon won the Best First Screenplay award for their Oscar-nominated The Big Sick, which was based on their own courtship.
Other winners including the cinematography of Call Me by Your Name and Chile’s A Fantastic Woman was named the Best International Film. This award has, in previous years, been won by British films – such as The King’s Speech, highlighting the requirement for Independent Spirit Award nominated films to be American – which further muddies the water, when you consider that Three Billboards was recently named the Best British Film at the BAFTAs.
The often politically charged ceremony included the expected nods towards the #MeToo and Time’s Up anti-harassment campaigns, with jokes at the expense of two of the figures whose names will throw a dark cloud over the film industry in 2017, Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, while the hosts also poked fun at Woody Allen, another Hollywood favourite who’s finding stars turning their backs on him.
But another recent hash-tag, the Oscar So White campaign, is still at the forefront of the industry’s mind, with Get Out winning the two top awards and the Robert Altman award, which recognises the work of an ensemble cast going to the post-war race drama Mudbound.
Collecting the previously announced honour, the film’s director Dee Rees said, “Cinema lies in absorbing, electrifying performances by committed actors that make audiences feel, that make them think, make them observe themselves and world around them in a more expansive way.”
While the Spirits are seen as the low-budget Oscars, considering only films produced for less than $20 million, and the membership of their voters comes from a very different part of the industry, they’re increasingly reflecting the higher profile winners, announced in Hollywood just a day later, as the studios continue down a path of investing their money in bigger-budget crowd-pleasers, leaving the awards to be shared between the cheaper films. Indeed, for the past four years, the Best Picture Oscar has gone to the film that picked up Best Film at the Spirits the previous day. But after Moonlight, Spotlight, Birdman and 12 Years a Slave, it would take a big upset to see that pattern continue with Get Out, the most commercially successful of the films in contention at the Spirits.
And here is the full list of winners from the lunchtime ceremony, in marquee on the beach at Santa Monica:
“Call Me by Your Name”
“The Florida Project”
“Get Out” (WINNER)
BEST FIRST FEATURE
“Ingrid Goes West” (WINNER)
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000.
“A Ghost Story”
“Life and Nothing More” (WINNER)
“Most Beautiful Island”
Sean Baker, “The Florida Project”
Jonas Carpignano, “A Ciambra”
Luca Guadagnino, “Call Me by Your Name”
Jordan Peele, “Get Out” (WINNER)
Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, “Good Time”
Chloé Zhao, “The Rider”
Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird” (WINNER)
Azazel Jacobs, “The Lovers”
Martin McDonagh, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Jordan Peele, “Get Out”
Mike White, “Beatriz at Dinner”
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Kris Avedisian, Story By: Kyle Espeleta, Jesse Wakeman, “Donald Cried”
Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani, “The Big Sick” (WINNER)
Ingrid Jungermann, “Women Who Kill”
David Branson Smith, Matt Spicer, “Ingrid Goes West”
Thimios Bakatakis, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
Elisha Christian, “Columbus”
Hélène Louvart, “Beach Rats”
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, “Call Me by Your Name” (WINNER)
Joshua James Richards, “The Rider”
Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie, “Good Time”
Walter Fasano, “Call Me by Your Name”
Alex O’Flinn, “The Rider”
Gregory Plotkin, “Get Out”
Tatiana S. Riegel, “I, Tonya” (WINNER)
BEST FEMALE LEAD
Salma Hayek, “Beatriz at Dinner”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (WINNER)
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Shinobu Terajima, “Oh Lucy!”
Regina Williams, “Life and Nothing More”
BEST MALE LEAD
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name” (WINNER)
Harris Dickinson, “Beach Rats”
James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Robert Pattinson, “Good Time”
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya” (WINNER)
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Lois Smith, “Marjorie Prime”
Taliah Lennice Webster, “Good Time”
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Nnamdi Asomugha, “Crown Heights”
Armie Hammer ,”Call Me by Your Name”
Barry Keoghan, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (WINNER)
Benny Safdie, “Good Time”
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast
Director: Dee Rees
Casting Directors: Billy Hopkins, Ashley Ingram
Ensemble Cast: Jonathan Banks, Mary J. Blige, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan, Carey Mulligan
‘The Departure,” Lana Wilson
“Faces Places,” directed by Agnés Varda, JR, produced by Rosalie Varda (WINNER)
“Last Men in Aleppo,” directed by Feras Fayyad, produced by Kareem Abeed, Søeren Steen Jespersen, Stefan Kloos
“Motherland,” directed by Ramona S. Diaz, produced by Rey Cuerdo
“Quest,” directed by Jonathan Olshefski, produced by Sabrina Schmidt Gordon
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
“BPM (Beats Per Minute),” Robin Campillo, France
“A Fantastic Woman,” Sebastián Lelio, Chile (WINNER)
“I Am Not a Witch,” Rungano Nyoni, Zambia
“Lady Macbeth,” William Oldroyd, U.K.
“Loveless,” Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia
BONNIE AWARD – The inaugural Bonnie Award to recognise a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant.
So Yong Kim
Chloé Zhao (WINNER)
JEEP TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 23rd annual Truer Than Fiction Award, funded by the Jeep brand, is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition.
Shevaun Mizrahi, Director of “Distant Constellation”
Jonathan Olshefski, Director of “Quest” (WINNER)
Jeff Unay, Director of “The Cage Fighter”
KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 24th annual Someone to Watch Award, recognises a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition.
Amman Abbasi, Director of “Dayveon”
Justin Chon, Director of “Gook” (WINNER)
Kevin Phillips, Director of “Super Dark Times”
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 21st annual Producers Award, funded by Piaget, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films.
Giulia Caruso & Ki Jin Kim