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‘Birdman’ & ‘Boyhood’ Dominate the 2015 Independent Spirit Awards

'Birdman' & 'Boyhood' Dominate the 2015 Independent Spirit Awards

Once again, the Independent Spirit Awards are looking a lot like Oscar, and the winners from this afternoon prove that. Academy Award frontrunners “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” and “Boyhood” walked away with the top awards, with “Birdman” taking the top prize for Best Feature, and Richard Linklater snagging the Best Director trophy. “Birdman” cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki picked up Cinematography honors, and “Whiplash” editor Tom Cross bested the competition in his category, tightening up the race between he and “Boyhood” editor Sandra AdairPatricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) also walked away with the Best Supporting Female honors, as she has done frequently this awards season, and is expected to tomorrow. In the other acting categories, favorites Julianne Moore (“Still Alice“) and J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash“) took Best Female Lead and Best Supporting Male statues. Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) was awarded the Best Male Lead — does this bode ill or well for Eddie Redmayne‘s chances tomorrow? Another Oscar frontrunner, Laura Poitras‘ “CITIZENFOUR,” was awarded the top documentary prize. 

The Spirits also gave some love to “Nightcrawler,” with awards for Best First Feature and Best Screenplay going to Dan Gilroy. Unfortunately, “Selma” was overlooked, despite the sacred presence of Oprah Winfrey in the tent, though Ava DuVernay and Bradford Young were acknowledged with nominations for Best Director and Cinematography, respectively. Justin Simien was awarded the Best First Screenplay for “Dear White People,” and “Land Ho!” picked up the Cassavetes award for films produced under $500,000. 

Hosts Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell were light, bubbly, and musical, playing to their strengths, and kept the show moving along, with a tribute to 30 years of the Spirit Awards, and special presentations of the Robert Altman Award going to “Inherent Vice” and a Special Distinction prize presented to “Foxcatcher.” A relaxed, fun, unbuttoned affair, the tequila flowed freely, and certainly presented an opportunity for the nominees to kick back and joke around before the big day. Paul Thomas Anderson ad libbed some shade about sponsor American Airlines losing his luggage during his acceptance speech, which Bennett Miller jokingly apologized for on his behalf during his. 

So it seems like this year’s awards are a direct precursor to what we will see tomorrow at the Academy Awards. While it might be easy to say the Independent Spirits are going more mainstream, it’s probably true (especially this year) that the Oscars are going far more indie themselves — it’s definitely been a year for celebrating fare that’s a bit quirkier, smaller, and off the beaten path. In fact, it seems more like Oscar is encroaching on Sprit territory. 

What did you think about the winners? Will they be repeated tomorrow? Is all the drama taken out of this year’s race with most of the big awards seemingly locked up? Let us know! 


(Award given to the Producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)
WINNER: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Producers: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole
Producers: Richard Linklater, Jonathan Sehring, John Sloss, Cathleen Sutherland
Love is Strange
Producers: Lucas Joaquin, Lars Knudsen, Ira Sachs, Jayne Baron Sherman, Jay Van Hoy
Producers: Christian Colson, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Oprah Winfrey
Producers: Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, David Lancaster, Michael Litvak

WINNER: Richard Linklater
Damien Chazelle
Ava DuVernay
Alejandro G. Iñárritu 
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
David Zellner
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

WINNER: Dan Gilroy
Scott Alexander &Larry Karaszewski
Big Eyes
J.C. Chandor
A Most Violent Year
Jim Jarmusch
Only Lovers Left Alive
Ira Sachs &Mauricio Zacharias
Love is Strange

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
WINNER: Nightcrawler
Director: Dan Gilroy
Producers: Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Producers: Justin Begnaud, Sina Sayyah
Dear White People
Director/Producer: Justin Simien
Producers: Effie T. Brown, Ann Le, Julia Lebedev, Angel Lopez, Lena Waithe
Obvious Child
Director: Gillian Robespierre
Producer: Elisabeth Holm
She’s Lost Control
Director/Producer: Anja Marquardt
Producers: Mollye Asher, Kiara C. Jones

WINNER: Justin Simien
Dear White People
Desiree Akhavan
Appropriate Behavior
Sara Colangelo
Little Accidents
Justin Lader
The One I Love
Anja Marquardt
She’s Lost Control

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000.  Award given to the writer, director and producer.  Executive Producers are not awarded.
WINNER: Land Ho!
Writers/Directors: Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens
Producers: Christina Jennings, Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy
Blue Ruin
Writer/Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Producers: Richard Peete, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani
It Felt Like Love
Writer/Director/Producer: Eliza Hittman
Producers: Shrihari Sathe, Laura Wagner
Man From Reno
Writer/Director: Dave Boyle
Writers: Joel Clark, Michael Lerman
Producer: Ko Mori
Writer/Director/Producer: Chris Mason Johnson
Producer: Chris Martin

WINNER: Julianne Moore
Still Alice
Marion Cotillard
The Immigrant
Rinko Kikuchi
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Jenny Slate
Obvious Child
Tilda Swinton
Only Lovers Left Alive          

WINNER: Michael Keaton
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
André Benjamin
Jimi: All Is By My Side
Jake Gyllenhaal
John Lithgow
Love is Strange
David Oyelowo

WINNER: Patricia Arquette
Jessica Chastain
A Most Violent Year
Carmen Ejogo
Andrea Suarez Paz
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Emma Stone
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

WINNER: J.K. Simmons
Riz Ahmed
Ethan Hawke
Alfred Molina
Love is Strange
Edward Norton
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

WINNER: Emmanuel Lubezki 
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Darius Khondji
The Immigrant
Sean Porter
It Felt Like Love
Lyle Vincent 
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Bradford Young

WINNER: Tom Cross
Sandra Adair 
John Gilroy 
Ron Patane 
A Most Violent Year
Adam Wingard 
The Guest

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)
Director/Producer: Laura Poitras 
Producers: Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky    
20,000 Days on Earth
Directors: Iain Forsyth &Jane Pollard
Producers: Dan Bowen, James Wilson  
Stray Dog
Director: Debra Granik
Producer: Anne Rosellini  
The Salt of the Earth
Directors: Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders 
Producer: David Rosier
Director/Producer: Orlando von Einsiedel
Producer: Joanna Natasegara

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski     

Force Majeure
Director: Ruben Östlund
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Director: Xavier Dolan     
Norte, the End of History
Director: Lav Diaz  
Under the Skin 
United Kingdom
Director: Jonathan Glazer  

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – (Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast)
Inherent Vice
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Casting Director: Cassandra Kulukundis 
Ensemble Cast: Josh Brolin, Martin Donovan, Jena Malone, Joanna Newsom,Joaquin Phoenix, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short Serena Scott Thomas,Benicio Del Toro, Katherine Waterston, Michael Kenneth Williams, Owen Wilson,Reese Witherspoon

Director/Producer: Bennett Miller
Producers: Anthony Bregman, Megan Ellison, Jon Kilik 
Writers: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman
 Actors: Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum    

18th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 18th annual Producers Award, sponsored by Piaget, 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 funded by Piaget.
WINNER: Chris Ohlson (“Kumiko The Treasure Hunter”)
Chad Burris
Elisabeth Holm

21st ANNUAL KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 21st annual Someone to Watch Award, sponsored by Kiehl’s Since 1851, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition.  The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851.
Directors: Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia  
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
The Retrieval
Director: Chris Eska

20th ANNUAL LENSCRAFTERS TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 20th annual Truer Than Fiction Award, sponsored by LensCrafters, is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition.  The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by LensCrafters.
WINNER: The Kill Team
Director: Dan Krauss    
Approaching the Elephant
Director: Amanda Rose Wilder   
Evolution of a Criminal
Director: Darius Clark Monroe      
The Last Season 
Director: Sara Dosa

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Rod Blackhurst

Katie – Just a point of clarification – yes, most of this year’s Academy Award Best Picture Nominees were not made by the industry stalwart studios – but they are hardly indie films. These films were fully made in the Hollywood feature film system – major financing, producers with many other major feature films, major cast, etc. As an independent filmmaker there is no way I’m competing to raise money with folks like Inarritu, Richard Linklater, etc. Those films are still made fully within the traditional system. R

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