by Mark Rabinowitz
The IFP/West handed out the 1999 Spirit Awards on Saturday afternoon in
Santa Monica, California, and Bill Condon's "Gods and Monsters," Wes
Anderson's "Rushmore" and Don Roos' "The Opposite of Sex" all took home
multiple awards. "Gods" took home the Best Feature prize, along with two
acting awards -- Ian McKellan picked up the Best Male Lead award, while
Lynn Redgrave nabbed the Best Supporting Actress nod. Roos picked up
awards for Best Screenplay and Best First Feature, while "Rushmore"
scored with Wes Anderson nabbing a Best Director Award and Bill Murray
picking up a Best Supporting Actor award.
The Best First Screenplay award went to Darren Aronofsky for "Pi," and
the Best Debut Performance went to Evan Adams for "Smoke Signals." One
of the most winning acceptance speeches came from Ally Sheedy, who
nabbed the Best Female Lead award for her performance in "High Art."
Pointing out that it had taken her a long time to get to the point of
accepting an award, and noting that it might be a very long time before
she was in that position again, Sheedy declared: "I'm taking my fucking
time!" She included a big "Thank You" to October Films co-President, Bingham Ray,
who has been in the news lately as rumors of his imminent departure from
October Films swirled.
The Best Cinematography award went to Maryse Alberti for "Velvet
Goldmine" and the Truer Than Fiction award for Best Documentary, which
comes complete with a no-strings-attached grant of $20,000, went to
Barbara Sonnenborn for "Regret to Inform." An additional $20,000 went to
David Williams, the director of "Thirteen," who won the Movado One to
Watch Award. Thomas Vinterberg's Danish film, "The Celebration,"
overlooked by the Academy for a Best Foreign Language film nomination
won the Best Foreign film, and Susan Stover received the Ralph Lauren
Producer's award for "High Art."
Picking up Murray's award, director Anderson read a statement from the
actor, which included a tongue-in-cheek apology for not attending the
awards. Murray felt that "if I came to the Independent Spirit Awards, it
would send the wrong message to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences, who I am still courting....But I commend the IFP for giving
this award to a major motion picture superstar like myself. It shows a
lot of independence and a lot of spirit." The speech was an example of
the levity that ran throughout the show. Redgrave, who made a reference
to tabloid coverage of her messy breakup with her husband when accepting
her award, thanked three women for helping her through these tough
times, "My shrink, my lawyer and my new agent."
John Waters' hilarious keynote speech included references to inventive
porn titles ("Shaving Ryan's Privates"), L.A. facelifts ("Everyone looks
surprised!") and his passion for "Catholic behavior before the
Reformation," including a book entitled: "Holy Anorexia: Eating
Disorders of the Saints." He also pointed out that back in the days, he
didn't have the budget for props, so when it came time for the scene in
"Pink Flamingos" where Devine opens up a gift -wrapped turd, his advice
to the actor was for him to "just go home and shit in a box." Classic Waters. Classicly indie.