Hollywood may have the Academy Awards, but Santa Monica has the Spirit Awards each year the afternoon prior to the Oscars in a spiffy tent on the beach.
The March 1 ceremony saw 12 Years A Slave nab five of the biggest awards, including Best Feature, Best Director (Steve McQueen), Best Supporting Female (Lupita Nyong’o), Best Screenplay (John Ridley), and Best Cinematography (Sean Bobbit).
In all, 12 Years A Slave had seven Spirit Award nominations, compared to its nine Oscar nominations; the Steve McQueen film also won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
Matthew McConaughy and Jared Leto took home the Best Lead Male and Best Supporting Male awards, respectively, for their performances in Dallas Buyers Club.
As she has at several award ceremonies this season, Cate Blanchett walked away with the Best Lead Female for her work in Blue Jasmine.
Fruitvale Station, the film about a young man shot to death at a Bay Area Rapid Transit stop in Oakland on New Year’s morning, earned the Best First Feature award, while Bob Nelson claimed the Best First Screenplay honor for his work on Nebraska.
Representing France, Blue is the Warmest Color won the Best International Film category, while Best Editing went to Nat Sanders for Short Term 12 and 20 Feet From Stardom was the Best Documentary.
Remaining winners included: This is Martin Bonner, John Cassavetes Award for best featured made under $500,000; and, Mud, Robert Altman Award (given to director, casting director, and ensemble cast).
This was the Spirit Awards’ 29th iteration and is produced by Film Independent. The award ceremony advertises itself as the first ever to “exclusively honor independent film.”
Writer, actor, and comedian Patton Oswald hosted this year’s show, officially dubbed the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
During the ceremony, a state-of-the-art drone delivered an award. Oswald also introduced a mobile application called the Indie-izer, which could convert a big budget Hollywood studio production into an independent film.
Other notable nominees included: Robert Redford, Bruce Dern, Michael B. Jordan, Chiwetel Ejiofor (Best Male Lead); James Gandolfini, Michael Fassbender (Best Supporting Male); Woody Allen (Best Screenplay); Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Best First Screenplay).
For the first time ever, the Spirit Awards granted a “Bright Future Award” to a filmmaker “whose work best exemplifies a commitment to telling stories of positive change in the world.”
Patrick Creadon received the inaugural award for his film, If You Can Build It.
According to organizers, the film “exemplifies the power of hands-on education and the impact a few budding creative minds can have on the future of a community.”
Creadon was given a $25,000 grant as part of the award.
Also awarded: the 2014 Roger and Chaz Ebert Fellowship. Filmmaker Lulu Wang was given the award, which included a $10,000 cash grant. The fellowship was given to Wang for her participation in Film Independent’s diversity mentorship project, Project Involve, during the production of her first feature film, Posthumous. The film stars Jack Huston and Brit Marling and was set in Berlin.