We all know the big night is the Oscars, however, there was a flurry of pre-Oscar parties and awards honoring important contributions to film.
The Eleventh Annual Art Directors Guild Awards for Excellence in Production Design was a black-tie ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Some of the winners included Huo Tingxiao for Curse of the Golden Flower; Eugenio Caballero for Pan’s Labyrinth; Peter Lamont for Casino Royale; and Mark Worthington for The Box and the Bunny segment of the television hit Ugly Betty. Dean Tavoularis received the Lifetime Achievement award and Terry Gilliam was feted for Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery for his body of work, which includes the Monty Python series as well as Time Bandits, The Fisher King, Twelve Monkeys and his classic Brazil, which served as preview of the unmitigated violence that lay ahead for the world.
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The Film Independent’s 2007 Film Spirit Awards was televised live from a tent on the beautiful beach of Santa Monica. This non black-tie event honors films by filmmakers who embody independence and have a unique vision manifesting in original, provocative subject matter, among a few of the consideration requirements.
The big winner was Little Miss Sunshine for which writer Michael Arndt won the Best Feature and Best First Screenplay award, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Best Director and Alan Arkin, Best Supporting Male.
Other winners included Thank You For Smoking for Best Screenplay (Jason Reitman); Half Nelson for Best Male Lead (Ryan Gosling) and Best Female Lead (Shareeka Epps); Quinceañera, the John Cassavetes Award; and Friends With Money, Best Supporting Female (Frances McDormand). Best Foreign Film went to Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, for The Lives of Others. David Lynch and Laura Dern received a Special Distinction Award for their collaborative work, and the late director Robert Altman received an Honorary Spirit Award for his lifelong commitment to independent filmmaking.
This annual event, which began as a small grassroots program, has grown into one of the most anticipated film events of the year. Honorees, presenters, guests and journalists show up from all parts of the globe. With such a prestigious gathering, the choice of Sarah Silverman as Master of Ceremonies was questionable. Her opening monologue included musings on having sex with a piece of cheese, a talking vagina as a story concept and heavy use of the “f” word, which may have topped David Mamet’s use in his play Glengarry Glen Ross. (At least Mamet’s play won a Pulitzer.) This unique assemblage of talented writers, producers, directors and actors deserves more than Silverman’s “garbage mouth.”
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Los Angeles Confidential Magazine threw a big Red Carpet pre-Oscar bash honoring their recent cover star, Forest Whitaker. Hundreds of guests showed up at the Mondrian Hotel’s Skybar to pay tribute to one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors. Among some of the celebrities who walked down the carpet was Ken Davitian, the chubby co-star of Borat. Who will ever forget that infamous nude wrestling scene about which he said, “It was a combination of several scenes and we did it pretty much in one take. After all, you don’t want to run naked into a crowded elevator more than once.” A delightful Luenell, who played the hooker in Borat, said, “I had to see my therapist after seeing Ken’s big butt.” A single mother, she attributes her success to “following my dream and praying.”
So, the awards frenzy is over. Jewelry has been returned. Tuxedoes and gowns have been put back in closets. Stylists are sipping Piña Coladas on a beach in Cabo. A variety of statuettes in different colors and shapes will grace fireplace mantels, and now it’s back to the collective drawing boards to create that next hit.