Oscars 2011 Update: The Independent Spirit Awards

Today, the Independent Spirit Awards were announced. I didn’t post it immediately for two reasons: one, I was in the middle of my Best Picture articles (which I really enjoyed and didn’t want to break the flow of), and two, they don’t really matter so much for tomorrow. Though, in this case, we did get a big arrow.

My major problem with the Independent Spirit Awards is how they’re basically like the Oscars “Lite.” Most of the stuff that wins are the films that are nominated at the Oscars. Sure, they’re technically independent, but it almost feels unfair to the nominees that are actually independents. That is — The Artist stopped being independent once the Weinstein’s picked it up. Did you really think Take Shelter stood a chance against it in the Best Feature race?

Either way, here are the winners from the Independent Spirit Awards:

Best Feature was The Artist. It beat 50/50, Beginners, Drive and Take Shelter. Nice list. Not crazy about Beginners, but whatever. This basically tells you the film cannot lose tomorrow.

Best Director was Michel Hazanavicius from The Artist. The Best Director category was the same as the Best Feature category, with the one change of Alexander Payne being nominated for The Descendants over Jonathan Levine  for 50/50. Still, The Artist wins again.

Jean Dujardin won Best Male Lead for The Artist, again pointing to a probable Oscar win for him tomorrow night. He beat Demián Bichir for A Better Life, Ryan Gosling for Drive, Woody Harrelson for Rampart, and Michael Shannon for Take Shelter. Strong category. I also kind of wish they didn’t nominate performances like this. I feel they’re better serving independent film by nominating stuff not recognized by all these “Oscar” awards places, so that way, when stuff is nominated here and wins, we’ll go see it. Like Another EarthTake Shelter works too. But Drive — everybody knows about that. It just feels like a big fish in a little pond, even if it came from that pond originally.

Best Female Lead was Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn. See what I mean? She beat Lauren Ambrose for Think of Me (see? Here’s a performance I don’t know, and will now look up because if was nominated), Rachael Harris for Natural Selection, Adepero Oduye for Pariah and Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene. Actually a strong category. Still, Williams felt like a ringer.

Best Supporting Male was Christopher Plummer for Beginners. Again, unfair. He beat Albert Brooks for Drive, John Hawkes for Martha Marcy May Marlene, John C. Reilly for Cedar Rapids (seriously?), and Corey Stoll for Midnight in Paris (are we really considering Woody Allen an independent filmmaker?). Gee, I wonder if that category was ever in doubt.

Best Supporting Female was Shailene Woodley for The Descendants. Okay, so maybe also unfair, but I’ll still glad it happened. This woman has not been given nearly enough praise for her performance this season (looking at you, SAG and AMPAS). She beat Jessica Chastain for Take Shelter (great performance there, to go along with her seventy-six other great performances this year), Anjelica Huston for 50/50, Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs, and Harmony Santana for Gun Hill Road. Notice how everything that’s won is a high profile choice? Does that mean the independent spirit is actually a desire to be mainstream?

Best Screenplay went to The Descendants. Wow, if I’d even looked at the nominees, I’d probably have gotten them all right. It beat The Artist, Beginners, Footnote and Win Win.

Best First Screenplay went to 50/50. It beat Another Earth, Cedar Rapids, Margin Call and Terri. Whoa — shocker.

Best Cinematography went to The Artist, which beat (this is hysterical) Bellflower, The Dynamiter, Midnight in Paris and The Off Hours.

Best First Feature went to Margin Call, which beat Another Earth, In the Family, Martha Marcy May Marlene and Natural Selection. The only Oscar nominee in the bunch. Seriously, just pick your winners here based on what’s nominated at the Oscars.

Best International Film — quick, wager a guess. I bet you can do it — went to A Separation. It beat The Kid with a Bike, Melancholia (seriously?), Shame (seriously?) and Tyrannosaur.

Best Documentary went to The Interrupters, which beat An African Election, Bill Cunningham in New York, The Redemption of General Butt Naked and We Were Here. Considering this was a consensus best documentary of the year by many people, I am not the least bit surprised. Shines a light on the Oscar documentary voting process, doesn’t it?

And the brief stuff no one cares about:

The John Cassavetes Award went to Pariah. The Truer Than Fiction Award went to Where Soldiers Come From, the Someone to Watch Award went to Mark Jackson for Without. The Producers Award went to Sophia Lin for Take Shelter. And the Robert Altman Award went to Margin Call.

No shockers here whatsoever. This basically tells you that The Artist is gonna win big tomorrow. So all you doubters — start changing your ballots.

Fifteen minutes from now and I post the Razzie Award nominees, which I am much more excited for.

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