Spirit Awards Showcase Oscar Players and Also-Rans, With Heavy Hitters on Deck

Read on: Variety.

Five of the last eight best feature winners at the annual Film Independent Spirit Awards have gone on to win best picture at the Oscars, including a four-year streak from 2013-2016. It was a steadily evolving status quo that led former Academy of Motio…

The Spirit Awards Weren’t the Oscars, But They Got as Close as They Could

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

In recent years, Film Independent Spirit Award voters have more often than not gone for the movies most likely to win at the Academy Awards the next day. But they didn’t have that option with this year’s Best Feature nominees, none of which had even been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.

So they went with the closest thing they could find to an Oscar movie: Barry Jenkins’ exquisite love story “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which was nominated for three Oscars but woefully left out in the top category.

The film was named Best Feature, Jenkins took the award for directing, and the 2019 Spirit Awards ended up feeling sort of like an alternative to the Oscars, but sort of like the closest thing that Spirit voters could conjure up.

Also Read: Independent Spirit Awards 2019: Complete Winners List (Updating Live)

The Spirit nominating committee had given voters a real challenge, with a Best Feature lineup with no Oscars overlap but one in which any one of the five nominees would have been a worthy winner. The others were Bo Burnham’s painfully honest “Eighth Grade,” Paul Schrader’s austere and devastating “First Reformed,” Debra Granik’s brilliantly understated “Leave No Trace” and Lynne Ramsay’s dark and corrosive “You Were Never Really Here.”

While the juries that choose nominees at the Spirit Awards are known for unusual and bold choices, the final vote is in the hands of 7,000 members of Film Independent – some of them filmmakers, others movie fans who pay the annual dues. That necessarily moves the winners into the awards mainstream, which is what exactly what happened on Saturday.

The first award of the afternoon went to Oscar-nominated supporting actor Richard E. Grant for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” The supporting-actress award went to Regina King, whose performance in “If Beale Street Could Talk” made her the only Oscar nominee in her category. The Best Female Lead trophy went to Glenn Close for “The Wife,” repeating what has happened at every previous awards show this season (and what is expected to play out on Sunday at the Oscars).

Also Read: Spirit Awards: Watch Aubrey Plaza Sacrifice ‘Stranger Things’ Star Finn Wolfhard in Bloody Ritual (Video)

In addition, the international-film award went to “Roma,” the Oscar favorite for Best Foreign Language Film and a strong Best Picture contender, and the screenplay award went to Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty’s Oscar-nominated script for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

In fact, there was only one category in which a film that was nominated for the Oscars lost to a film that wasn’t — and that one was a complete anomaly. Spirit Award voters gave the prize to Morgan Neville’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” over three Oscar nominees, “Minding the Gap,” “Of Fathers and Sons” and “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” — but Academy’s doc branch hadn’t mysteriously failed to nominate “Neighbor,” it would have been the clear Oscar favorite.

In a few other categories beyond Best Feature, voters didn’t have the option of going for the Oscar nominee. So Ethan Hawke won the Best Male Lead award for a performance in “First Reformed” that should have been nominated, and Burnham won the Best First Screenplay award for “Eighth Grade,” not an Oscar nominee but the most rewarded of the nominees.

The Spirit Awards could have used Saturday to present a true alternative to the Academy’s big show, but that’s not their style anymore. And to be fair, it’s hard to quibble with any of the voters’ choices, which rewarded uniformly excellent films across the board.

For Close, for “Roma,” perhaps for King, Saturday will likely be one more stop on the road to Sunday. For others — for “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and for a gleefully appreciative Richard E. Grant, moved to tears as he remembered the actor friend on whom his character is based — it may be the last award of a long season.

So what if the Spirit Awards didn’t go out of their way to be all indie and alternative? A batch of people who deserve awards received them on Saturday, and now it’s almost time to close the book on this awards season.

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How to Stream the 2019 Independent Spirit Awards Live Online

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

After a long and shockingly wide open campaign, Hollywood’s awards’ season is finally drawing to a close this weekend with the Independent Spirit Awards and the Oscars. The Spirit Awards, a celebration of many of the year’s best independent films, is taking place on the evening of Saturday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. ET/ 2 p.m. PT live from Santa Monica, Calif.

The ceremony will be carried live by the cable channel IFC, and the online streaming option for the Independent Spirit Awards comes in two flavors.

The first is the one you come to expect for pretty much everything: the online stream available on IFC’s official site here, as well as the IFC app for mobile devices and streaming boxes for your TV. This stream requires you to log in with an applicable TV provider.

Also Read: Spirit Awards: For a Change, They’re Not Trying to Be the Oscars’ Baby Brother

But if you don’t have one of those, fear not because there is also an official stream of the Independent Spirit Awards that will be completely free. That stream you can find on Facebook, on the Film Independent page right here. Easy as pie.

If you miss the show when it happens live, you can check out an encore at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

This year’s Spirit Awards will be hosted by the illustrious Aubrey Plaza, and you can click here to check out the full list of nominees, led by films such as “We the Animals,” Eighth Grade,” “First Reformed” and “You Were Never Really Here.”

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How To Watch The Indie Spirit Awards Online & On TV

Read on: Deadline.

The 34th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards are set for Saturday at 2 PM PT/5 PM ET airing live on IFC and Facebook Watch from the beach near the Santa Monica pier. The show, which awards the year’s best in indie films, will be hosted by Aubre…

Spirit Awards: For a Change, They’re Not Trying to Be the Oscars’ Baby Brother

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Saturday’s Film Independent Spirit Awards has a host, Aubrey Plaza, and will no doubt use that fact as a way to poke fun at their bigger competitor, the hostless Academy Awards.

But that’s far from the only way that the Spirit Awards will distinguish themselves from the Academy Awards during their afternoon shindig on the beach the day before the Oscars.

More than in most recent years, Saturday’s Spirit Awards won’t be an out-of-town tryout for Sunday’s Oscars, looser and less consequential but honoring many of the same films.

Also Read: Aubrey Plaza Dings Host-Less Oscars in Independent Spirit Awards Promo (Video)

Instead, this year’s Spirit lineup offers a real alternative to the Oscars. The Spirits’ five Best Feature nominees, for instance, were all overlooked by the Oscars in the Best Picture category: Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade,” Debra Granik’s “Leave No Trace” and Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here,” none of which received a single nomination from the Academy, plus “First Reformed,” which got one, and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which got three.

Those are five exceptional films that can hold their own against the Academy’s lineup, and they make a case for what the Spirit Awards should be: not the baby brother to the bigger, glitzier show across town the next day, but a true alternative. Recognizing the heart and quality of “Leave No Trace” or “First Reformed” or “Beale Street,” after all, is a far worthier achievement than serving as just one more precursor award on the road to the Dolby Theatre.

That’s what the Spirit Awards were in their early years, when they gave their top award to “Sex, Lies and Videotape” instead of “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Pulp Fiction” instead of “Forrest Gump,” “Fargo” instead of “The English Patient.”

Also Read: ‘If Beale Street Could Talk,’ ‘Leave No Trace’ Nominated for Top Independent Spirit Awards

In the first 20 years of their existence, the Spirit Awards nominations in the Best Feature category included a grand total of six films that would also be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, and only one, “Platoon,” that won both awards.

But in the 14 years since then, 26 films have been nominated for both awards, including three out of five in 2005 and 2017 and four out of five in 2010 and 2014. And between 2014 and 2017, all four of the Spirit Award winning films — “12 Years a Slave,” “Birdman,” “Spotlight” and “Moonlight” — went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture, and more than half the Spirit acting winners repeated at the Oscars as well.

The best-pic streak came to an end last year when “Get Out” won the Spirit Award and “The Shape of Water” took the Oscar — and it definitely won’t start up again this year, since for the first time in 10 years, none of the Spirits’ Best Feature nominees are in the running for the top Oscar.

Also Read: ‘Leave No Trace’ Director Debra Granik Wins $50,000 Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grant

Sure, a handful of Oscar nominees are sprinkled through the rest of the Spirit Awards categories. With Glenn Close, Regina King, Richard E. Grant and Adam Driver in the acting categories, the Spirits and Oscars could easily end up with a couple of overlapping winners. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” is nominated for screenplay, while the documentary category contains Oscar nominees “Minding the Gap,” “Of Fathers and Sons” and “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” and the international-film category includes “Roma,” “Shoplifters” and “The Favourite.”

(At the Spirit Awards, a film can qualify as foreign even if it’s in English, as “The Favourite” is.)

But despite the occasional overlap, this year’s Spirit Awards might well end up saluting 15-year-old Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”) instead of 71-year-old Glenn Close (“The Wife”), or giving awards to Debra Granik, Tamara Jenkins, Thomasin McKenzie, John David Washington, Ethan Hawke or John Cho.

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Oh, and here’s one more way they’re different from the Oscars: While the Academy tried but failed to move four categories, including cinematography, into the commercial breaks, the Spirit Awards have been doing that for years without causing a fuss.

Last year, for instance, “Call Me by Your Name” won the Spirit Award for cinematography before the live broadcast on IFC even began — and the fact that it did so without raising the kind of stink that greeted the Academy’s proposed move is perhaps a sign that the stakes are lower and the passions less inflamed when it comes to Saturday afternoon on the beach v. Sunday night in Hollywood.

But if the Spirit Awards do their job right, the winners won’t be any less worthy.

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‘Leave No Trace’ Director Debra Granik Wins $50,000 Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grant

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Leave No Trace” director Debra Granik was given a $50,000 Film Independent Spirit Awards grant designed to recognize a mid-career female director at the Spirit Awards’ nominees brunch on Saturday.

Granik won the second annual Bonnie Award, named for Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo, who joined American Airlines in 1973 and became the first female pilot to fly for a major U.S. airline. The category’s other nominees were Tamara Jenkins (“Private Life”) and Karyn Kusama (“Destroyer”).

She was one of the winners in four grant categories whose nominees were announced at the same time as the rest of the Spirit Awards categories on Nov. 16. But rather than waiting for the Feb. 23 Spirit Awards show to reveal the winners, the grant categories are handed out at the nominees brunch, which is held at the BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood.

Also Read: ‘If Beale Street Could Talk,’ ‘Leave No Trace’ Nominated for Top Independent Spirit Awards

The grants, which total $125,000 in cash prizes, were announced by Brian Tyree Henry and Lena Waithe.

In addition to Granik, winners included Shrihari Sathe in the Producers Award category, Alex Moratto, the director of “Socrates,” in the Someone to Watch category and Bing Liu, director of the Hulu documentary “Minding the Gap,” in the Truer Than Fiction category.

The winners and nominees:

BONNIE AWARD
(Recognizes a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant, sponsored by American Airlines.)

Winner: Debra Granik
Tamara Jenkins
Karyn Kusama

PRODUCERS AWARD
(Honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.)

Jonathan Duffy and Kelly Williams
Gabrielle Nadig
Winner: Shrihari Sathe

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
(Recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.)

Winner: Alex Moratto, director of “Sócrates”
Ioana Uricaru, director of “Lemonade”
Jeremiah Zagar, director of “We the Animals”

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
(Presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant._

Alexandria Bombach, director of “On Her Shoulders”
Winner: Bing Liu, director of “Minding the Gap”
RaMell Ross, director of “Hale County This Morning, This Evening”

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Independent Film Awards Circuit Livens Up Studio-Heavy Oscar Race

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Watch John Mulaney and Nick Kroll Drag Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein and the Rest of Hollywood

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Independent Spirit Awards hosts John Mulaney and Nick Kroll killed the room during their opening monologue at the awards show the day before the Academy Awards, bringing down the house with a series of take-no-prisoners jokes skewering Hollywood and its place in the #MeToo movement. “What a year! Last year every one famous died, this […]