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The 7 Biggest Surprises of the 2015 Spirit Awards

The 7 Biggest Surprises of the 2015 Spirit Awards

The 30th Film Independent Spirit Awards weren’t exactly surprising when it came to the winners (they never tend to be these days). Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette all won acting trophies, while “Citizenfour” and “Ida” won Best Documentary and Best International Film, respectively (Oscar crossover, much?). But there were still a few things that stood out during the ceremony, even if some of them weren’t regarding the winners.

#1. “Birdman” beats “Boyhood”

While “Birdman” is being tipped to win big with Oscar, many thought “Boyhood” still had a big win at the Spirits in the bag. But while it did win Best Director and Best Supporting Actress, it was ultimately “Birdman’s” big night. Probably not the best sign for tomorrow night…

#2. “Land Ho!” wins the John Cassavetes Award

Probably the biggest surprise winner came in the John Cassavetes Award category, which honors films made for under $500,000. “Blue Ruin” seemed like the frontrunner, with “It Felt Like Love” the potential spoiler. But instead Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz’s “Land Ho!” took the prize, essentially the only genuinely “tiny” indie to get any recognition over the course of the ceremony.

#3. “Nightcrawler” takes two

It seemed pretty likely that Dan Gilroy was going to win Best First Feature for “Nightcrawler,” but his second win for Best Screenplay was something of a surprise. It also made the film the second biggest winner of the night after “Birdman” (tied with “Boyhood,” “Whiplash,” but still — those films will get a win or two tomorrow night too, while “Nightcrawler” won’t.

#4. Editing and cinematography don’t make the telecast

Perhaps you’re surprised who won Best Editing and Best Cinematography simply because you didn’t see them being announced. The Spirits aired live this year, so they questionably opted to leave two categories to a little pre-show: Best Editing and Best Cinematography. They weren’t especially surprising wins (“Whiplash” topped “Boyhood” for Best Editing while “Birdman” beat “Selma” for Best Cinematography), but maybe you didn’t even know they happened.

#5. Fred Armisen pulled off an Alzheimer’s joke

The funniest moment of hosts Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell’s so-so opening monologue was at the expense of one of the least
funny nominees. Armisen repeatedly — and to big laughs — introduced
the fact that Julianne Moore was at the ceremony, a reference to the
fact that she portrays a woman suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s
in “Still Alice.” Terminal disease jokes aren’t exactly easy to pull
off, so hats off to Armisen for pulling it off. 

#6. Ethan Hawke presented Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette winning for “Boyhood” was probably the least surprising award of the night, but what was a bit odd was the fact that the Spirits got her co-star Ethan Hawke to present the award in the first place. It was basically like the Spirits were announcing Arquette as the winning when they announced Hawke was the presenter. On the (very) off chance someone else won, wouldn’t that be kind of awkward? And isn’t a tad offensive to the other nominees to pick a presenter so geared to one in particular?

#7. Richard Linklater wasn’t there

While the fact that Richard Linklater won Best Director wasn’t particularly surprising (though it was one of the night’s few mild question marks), the fact that he didn’t attend the ceremony certainly was. One would assume he’s in town for that other awards ceremony tomorrow, no? If Oprah can make it to the Spirit Awards…

READ MORE: ‘Birdman’ Wins Beat Feature at 2015 Spirit Awards

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