The Independent Spirit Awards were held earlier tonight, with filmmakers coming together to celebrate smaller films operating within the Hollywood ecosystem. One of the defining features of the awards are their budgetary restrictions; winners have to have been made for $20 million or less, a rule that disqualified a few of this year’s major Oscar contenders. Most notably, La La Land—which cost $30 million—Hacksaw Ridge, and Arrival were all out of the running. That basically meant tonight was in the bag for either Moonlight or Manchester By The Sea, with Barry Jenkins’ coming-of-age story the obvious winner pretty early into the evening.
In fact, Moonlight won every single award it was nominated for, including Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture, and the coveted Robert Altman Award, recognizing greatness by an ensemble in independent film. It might have won even more—Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris are both carrying a lot of buzz in the Oscars‘ supporting performer races—but the Altman Award disqualifies wins for individual performances.
Outside Jenkins and company’s triumphs, the Spirit Awards saw a few other noteworthy films score recognition: Robert Eggers nabbed two awards aimed at newcomers—Best First Screenplay and Best First Feature—with his puritanical horror film The Witch. Hell Or High Water, freed of some of its more aggressive competition, nabbed a Supporting Actor award for Ben Foster, while Molly Shannon took home Best Supporting Actress for the otherwise overlooked Other People. And Isabella Huppert—The A.V. Club’s own preferred pick for Best Actress tomorrow night—complemented her Cesar Award win for Elle with another recognition of her fearlessly unsympathetic performance.
America’s weirdly resurgent O.J. Simpson fever paid off, too, with ESPN’s O.J.: Made In America defeating films like Ava DuVernay’s 13th and Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro for Best Documentary. Critical darling Toni Erdmann—soon to get an American version, with Jack Nicholson in the fictitious title role—won Best Foreign Language Film. And the Awards took a stab at that whole “Can you separate the artist from the art?” question, naming Casey Affleck the year’s Best Actor for Manchester By The Sea.