Spirit Awards: 8 of the Show's Best Moments

5:19 PM 2/27/2016

by Patrick Shanley

Highlights from this year's Indpendent Spirit Awards, from Jacob Tremblay's adorability to Mya Taylor's historic win.

Kumail Nanjiani and Kate McKinnon - H 2016
Steve Granitz/WireImage

The 31st annual Film Independent Spirit Awards, held in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, honored the best in independent filmmaking from the past year on Saturday.

Hosted by Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon and Silicon Valley's Kumail Nanjiani, the show featured stars from ultra-low-budget indies to some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including a number of nominees at this year's Academy Awards.

From spoofs of the year's best feature nominees featuring the evening's hosts, to A-list presenters, to some of the most adorable moments ever seen at an awards show (courtesy of 9-year-old Room star Jacob Tremblay and Beasts of No Nation's Abraham Attah), the night was a charming counterpoint to Sunday's Oscar madness.

The tent's more intimate setting housed a night full of big laughs, standing ovations, and even an historical moment in film history.

Here's a look at the best, and worst, moments from the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

  • Kate McKinnon & Kumail Nanjiani's Opening

    Opening the show with a short parody of Room, nominated for a best picture Oscar, McKinnon and Nanjiani got the laughs going early. The two comedians were locked in a bunker for seven years but "still haven't watched Beasts of No Nation," Najiani quipped. Once they actually took the stage, the SNL and Silicon Valley stars poked fun at the Oscar diversity issue, this year's nominees and themselves. "We're a bit different than traditional hosts; normally you know who the hosts are," joked McKinnon

  • Idris Elba Brings Co-star Abraham Attah Onstage to Accept Best Supporting Male Award

    Accepting the first award of the night, for best supporting male in the war drama Beasts of No Nation, Elba brought 15-year-old co-star Abraham Attah on stage with him. Elba made sure to acknowledge Attah's role in his win saying, "I'm not up here alone, I was supporting Abraham." (Attah later won the award for best male lead.)

  • Jacob Tremblay Calls Anthony Mackie His "Favorite Hero"

    Presenting the award for best screenplay, 9-year-old Tremblay, who starred in this year's best feature-nominated Room, gushed to Marvel superhero Mackie, "You're my favorite hero." Once the wave of adorability that washed over the audience receded, however, Tremblay revealed his confusion between Mackie, the actor, and Falcon, the high-flying superhero Mackie portrays onscreen.

  • Kumail Nanjiani and Kate McKinnon Spoof 'Carol'

    Continuing their takes on the night's best feature nominees, McKinnon and Nanjiani were spliced into the sumptuous restaurant setting of director Todd Haynes' 1950s-set romantic drama Carol, in which McKinnon took on the role of Cate Blanchett's titular role while Nanjiani played a waiter at a diner called "Lezzies." Playing on the sexual tension of the original scene, and the taboo subject of lesbian romance during the time period, Nanjiani and McKinnon had Blanchett and Haynes in stitches in the audience. 

  • Tom McCarthy Thanks Real-Life Boston Globe Reporters During Best Screenplay Acceptance Speech

    Writer-director Tom McCarthy accepted the award for best screenplay award with co-writer Josh Singer and dedicated the award to the real-life Boston Globe reporters whose investigation into the Catholic Church's molestation scandal was the basis of their film, Spotlight. The reporters, in attendance, were honored with a standing ovation from many of the night's attendees. 

  • Mya Taylor Becomes First Transgender Actress to Win Major Film Award

    "The first thing I thought was, 'This movie ain't going to be shit,'" Mya Taylor joked as she accepted the award for best supporting female. The actress made history as the first transgender person to win a major film award in Tangerine, a dramedy shot entirely on iPhones that follows a young prostitute in Los Angeles, and wrapped up her acceptance speech saying, "There is trangender talent. There's very beautiful transgender talent. So, you better get it out there and put it in your next movie."

  • Kate McKinnon Kisses Paul Dano

    During a sketch in which McKinnon portrayed a Kickstarter funder for the animated film Anomalisa, a film she apparently confused with N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, McKinnon expressed her romantic desire for Love & Mercy star Paul Dano. She then proceeded to track down the actor and plant a passionate, ham-filled kiss on the shell-shocked star.  

  • Abraham Attah Wins Best Male Lead

    In his first time ever appearing in a film, teenage Ghanaian actor Abraham Attah took home the prize for the best male lead for his portrayal of a young child soldier in Beasts of No Nation. Attah was discovered while skipping class and playing soccer by director Cary Fukunaga. Attah humbly thanked his director, as well as co-star Idris Elba, who won the best supporting male award earlier that night, and even made sure to thank the crew who worked on the movie.