Once again, the Independent Spirit Awards proved themselves a valuable, adventurous alternative to the Oscars by honoring most of the following night’s Oscar winners a day earlier and on a beach. Comedian Patton Oswalt presided over the ceremony that was held in Santa Monica on Saturday—the better to distinguish it from the bigger, gaudier event its awards otherwise mirrored.
The Brad Pitt-produced 12 Years A Slave won Best Feature, as well as Best Screenplay for John Ridley and Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o. But the film lost in two other major acting categories, with Jared Leto’s supporting turn in Dallas Buyers Club beating out Michael Fassbender’s work in 12 Years A Slave, and his Dallas costar Matthew McConaughey winning Male Lead over Chiwetel Ejiofor. Meanwhile, Cate Blanchett took home Best Female Lead for Blue Jasmine, and Twenty Feet From Stardom bested The Act Of Killing and The Square in the Documentary competition. No, we did not accidentally cut and paste last night’s Oscar winners. This is also how the Indie Spirits went down.
Apparently unable to make the case that Gravity was somehow an “independent” film, voters did deviate from Academy wisdom in other categories: 12 Years A Slave won for its directing and its cinematography, while Short Term 12 nabbed the editing prize. In some of the Spirits-specific races, true indies managed to emerge victorious: The John Cassavetes Award, given to a film made for less than $500,000, was this year bestowed upon the low-key drama This Is Martin Bonner.
As modes of funding, distribution, and exhibition have changed, the definition of “independent cinema” has certainly become more nebulous. That said, too often do the Indie Spirits play like a dry run to the Oscars, with the big winners divided between the same mini-major studio acquisitions. No offense to a great film like 12 Years A Slave, but is it too much to ask that an awards group with “independent spirit” in its name reach past some of the big hits of the season to more radical, unsung triumphs?
The full list of winners—which, again, was not mistakenly pulled from Oscars.org—is below.
BEST FEATURE: 12 Years A Slave
BEST DIRECTOR: 12 Years A Slave, Steve McQueen
BEST SCREENPLAY: 12 Years A Slave, John Ridley
BEST FIRST FEATURE: Fruitvale Station
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY: Nebraska, Bob Nelson
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD: This Is Martin Bonner
BEST FEMALE LEAD: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
BEST MALE LEAD: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years A Slave
BEST SUPPORTING MALE: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Sean Bobbitt, 12 Years A Slave
BEST EDITING: Nat Sanders, Short Term 12
BEST DOCUMENTARY: Twenty Feet From Stardom
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM: Blue Is the Warmest Color (France)
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD: Mud