Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Independent Spirit Awards 2011

This was my first year watching the indy awards show on IFC. I have long known that the event precedes the Oscars on the Saturday evening before (or Oscar Eve as Laura put it). The host was Joel McHale and he made hilarious jokes, many of which require seeing the movies to get. Oh, and you can use profanity to boot! F-Bomb in the opening (even f-bombs featured in clips). McHale had his hand stuck under a bolder a la 127 Hours in said opening. At one point Banksy came to rescue him (one of the producers of the Oscar nominated documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, whose identity is unknown) and was revealed to be Alex Trebek (and he made off with McHale's potent potables, a bottle of Jameson). McHale also asked James Franco in his monologue if he wanted to "hang out tomorrow night." The ceremony was on a beach under an enormous tent, which I would not have known if it was not pointed out, and the temperature was very cold.
Ewan McGregor was there for no apparent reason (he presented), but he looked good even with his emo haircut and scarf. True Blood's Joe Manganiello was there looking fine (and he didn't even present). There were actually lots of cool movie and tv people in attendance not associated directly with nominated movies (various Office cast members, Jon Hamm, Nia Vardalos). Many of the movies featured also have plenty of Oscar love/nominations -- The Kids Are Alright, Winter's Bone, 127 Hours, and Black Swan. Believe it or not, there were even some movies I had not heard of (gasp). All the big stars show up (something I was familiar with before) and with how much I am anticipating the big show, it was such a delight. Plus, the "independent spirit" of it all, creates such a light hearted, fun atmosphere, it is without a doubt the fun flip-side of Oscar weekend. The overall theme of the event was overwhelmingly celebratory and clearly a supportive force for creative film-making.
My personal highlight, my man James Franco won Best Actor. Since he won't be winning at the Oscars, I am so tickled that he won the award. Aron Ralston was seated beside him (the real life man he portrayed) and was the first person he thanked. Another great win for an Oscar nominated role, John Hawkes for Winter's Bone. His imdb comment was cute and he seems like a genuinely sweet man. It is really great to see people win, who are not going to get the Oscar in their category. Seeing Darren Aronofsky win Best Director and the Kids Are Alright for screenplay were among those. In the somewhat predictability of the Oscars (much as I love them) and in a year with such quality films in all the nominations, it was cool to spread the love and be surprised.

One thing I did find odd was all the sponsors. It did not seem very independent (sort of like the Cheetos ads during Portlandia) but it did taper off as the show progressed. Also, I love Natalie Portman, but she had her coat off before her win was announced and the presumption was off-putting. Her dazzling, delightful acceptance speech, of course made it a passing thought. She's so great! And the cutest pregnant person ever.

Best Supporting Female -- Dale Dickey, Winter's Bone
Best First Feature -- Get Low
Best Male Lead -- James Franco, 127 Hours
Best Documentary -- Exit Through the Gift Shop
Best Foreign Film -- The King's Speech (UK -- I would LOVE to know the rules of these awards).
Robert Altman Award -- Please Give (for which the director, casting director and cast all receive awards).
Someone to Watch Award -- Mike Ott for Littlerock
Best Supporting Male -- John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
John Cassavetes Award -- Daddy Long Legs
Best Cinematography -- Black Swan
Best First Screenplay -- Lena Dunham, Tiny Furnature
Best Screenplay -- The Kids Are Alright
Best Director -- Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Best Female Lead -- Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Feature -- Black Swan

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