Before the Film Independent Spirit Awards kicked off inside a drafty tent in Santa Monica, IndieWire was set up on the blue carpet ahead of the ceremony, as the stars of independent film breezed by in their Saturday best — but not before taking a minute to talk about their nominated films. And with the Oscars just a day away, one question everyone was eager to answer was, “What was your best picture of 2019?” The answer, almost unanimously, was “Parasite.” Or “Uncut Gems,” sadly shut out of the Oscar race but feted with five Indie Spirit nominations.
“Parasite” fans on the Indie Spirits blue carpet included, well, pretty much everybody — from “Greener Grass” filmmakers Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe to young “Marriage Story” star Azhy Robertson. “‘Parasite’ is the easy answer because it’s the best film of the year,” “The Climb” star and screenwriter Kyle Marvin told IndieWire. Academy Award-winning “Moonlight” and “High Flying Bird” scribe Tarell Alvin McCraney concurred, but said he also loves “Waves” (whose Taylor Russell was up for Supporting Female at the Spirits) and “The Farewell” (up for Supporting Female for Shuzhen Zhao and Best Feature).
“Gosh, there’s so many I love,” “Marriage Story” star Julie Hagerty said. “I thought ‘Uncut Gems’ was amazing. And I love ‘1917.’ I love the Quentin Tarantino movie. And ‘Parasite.’ Wow. And what was that one with the liars? In English. They tell lies to each other.” (She’s talking about “The Good Liar” with Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen.)
“Honey Boy” star Noah Jupe also loved “Uncut Gems,” whose star Adam Sandler he was previously seen talking to down on the blue carpet. But he is a fan of “Booksmart,” whose high-school coming-of-age themes likely resonate with the 14-year-old. “I love that movie so much. So much truth. It’s such a blast. Olivia [Wilde] did such a great job with that,” he said.
Argentine “Honey Boy” cinematographer Natasha Braier, however, had a different answer, and that was “Joker.” “It’s a masterpiece, and I don’t know how they got away with doing that for Warner Bros.,” she said. “It’s amazing in every sense. The cinematography, for me, is the Oscar of this year, and that goes to Larry Sher. The mise en scene, the story, the art department, the music — it’s a real film that blows your head away.”
“Diane” star Mary Kay Place, up for Female Lead, championed “Honeyland,” which is a nominee for both Best Documentary and Best International Feature at the Oscars this year. “It was a very unique experience, and I was very moved by it. And that blew me away — the resilience, the spirit, the love of that woman just moved me beyond belief.” “Diane” director Kent Jones praised “Apollo 11,” which was unexpectedly denied an Oscar nomination last month. “When you have films that are archivally based, it’s hard,” he said. “People aren’t quite there yet.”
Comedian Jim Gaffigan had a different answer, too. “Best Picture? I would say my seven-year-old drew a picture of Jason Voorhees that was pretty amazing.”