In a year when the Academy Awards will air without a host for the first time in decades, the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards proved in its opening moments why having a host can be so essential to the awards show experience. And it was all thanks to Aubrey Plaza. Picking up the gig from previous Spirit Awards hosts John Mulaney and Nick Kroll, Plaza knocked it out of the park with her opening.
A pre-taped segment kicked off the ceremony, featuring Plaza opposite actresses such as Christina Ricci, Marisa Tomei, Marcia Gay Harden, and more. The women were conducting a blood oath to help Plaza become this year’s Spirit Awards host. Sharon Stone popped up to present the virgin sacrifice: “Stranger Things” star Finn Wolfhard.
“We shall reject commercial cinema and pledge our lives to the pursuit of dangerous art!” Plaza shouted. “Speak to me Altman, Ashby, Antonioni! Bring me the Payne of Alexander Payne.”
Following the video (embedded below), Plaza took to the Spirit Awards stage for a monologue that started off with a dig at the Oscars: “Welcome to the Spirit Awards, where we celebrate the movies that are too important to see,” the comedian began. “The networks’ first choice to host was no one, but they were already booked for tomorrow. So you got me!”
Plaza shaded the Oscars again when she brought attention to the fact that three of the five Spirit Award nominees for Best Director are women filmmakers. The Oscars have no women nominated for Best Director.
“60 percent of our director nominees are women!” Plaza said. “Don’t get too excited. In this case, 60 percent just means three women. Calling it 60 percent makes it seem way scarier to your uncles. That’s right, Uncle Jeff. Women are taking over!”
Next on Plaza’s roasting list was Netflix: “I do love movies. I truly believe that people should see them how they are meant to be seen. In the theaters!” Plaza said as the audience cheered. “And I know, I know, if the movie you poured your soul into is on Netflix it will be seen by millions of people as they scroll past it finding the show about folding socks into squares. ‘Tidying up’ or ‘Roma’? Either way you’re going to watch a show about people cleaning up shit, so who cares.”
Plaza also called out the Spirit Awards itself for giving just one nomination to Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” and having it be for white cast member Adam Driver (he’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor). “I’m sure they’ll do the white thing,” Plaza said.
A highlight of the monologue was when Plaza revealed John Waters was in the control room directing this year’s telecast for television viewers. Waters delivered the best zinger of the opening: “It’s television, Aubrey. Like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ it doesn’t really have a director. It directs itself. ”
Click here for the updated list of Indie Spirit Award winners.