“It’s going to be a big night for ‘Precious’,” an industry insider proclaimed, prior to the start of the 25th Independent Spirit tonight in Downtown Los Angeles. “At least I hope so,” the person added.
Well, it certainly was.
Lee Daniels’ “Precious,” a modestly budgeted independent production that debuted more than a year ago at the Sundance Film Festival before it was embraced by Oprah Winfre y and Typer Perry and was then acquired by Lionsgate, led the winners at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, winning the awards for best feature, best director (Lee Daniels), best actress (Gabourey Sidibe), best supporting actress (Mo’Nique), and best first screenplay (Geoffrey Fletcher).
The film’s key performers, Mo’Nique and Gabourey Sidibe, gave what many felt were the best speeches of the night.
“My mom used to pay me $2 to go to school,” Sidibe said, “and I saved up my money for a week so that I could see ‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’ and that’s the first film I saw where I could say ‘I could do that.’” She said the movie gave her ‘independent spirit’. More than fifteen years later, she was on stage accepting a best acting honor for first role in a feature film.
Other major winners of the night included “Crazy Heart,” which won the award for both best first feature and best actor for Jeff Bridges, while “(500) Days of Summer” won the prize for best screenplay.
Lynne Shelton’s indie, “Humpday,” won the John Cassavetes Award for the best feature made for under $500,000, and Woody Harrelson was honored for best supporting male for his work in “The Messenger.”
The complete list of Spirit Award winners:
BEST FEATURE (Award given to the Producer)
Lee Daniels, Precious
BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
(Given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer)
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, 500 Days of Summer
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
BEST FEMALE LEAD
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
BEST MALE LEAD
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Roger Deakins, A Serious Man
BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director)
Sacha Gervasi, Anvil! The Story of Anvil
BEST FOREIGN FILM (Award given to the director)
Lone Scherfig, An Education
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
(Given to one film’s director, casting director, and its ensemble cast)
“A Serious Man”
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Casting Directors: Ellen Chenoweth, Rachel Tenner
Cast: Richard Kind, Sari Lennick, Jessica McManus, Michael Stuhlbarg, Aaron Wolff
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
Karen Chien (“The Exploding Girl” & “Santa Mesa”)
SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Kyle Patrick Alvarez (“Easier with Practice”)
TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Bill Ross & Turner Ross (“45365”)