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The Film Independent Spirit Awards often position themselves in direct contrast to the Oscars — and this year was no different. The Spirit Awards ceremony, which took place Saturday on the beach in Santa Monica, promoted the diversity that is infamously lacking in the 2020 Academy Awards.
"We actually honor female directors," said host Aubrey Plaza during her opening monologue, giving a dig at the Oscars, which lacks women directing nominees for yet another year, as the camera panned to Honey Boy helmer Alma Har’el.
From the stage, Plaza also called out supporting actress nominee Jennifer Lopez and their shared Puerto Rican heritage, noting that Puerto Rico is a lot like independent film: "It’s beautiful, not enough people have seen it and its financing is always falling through." The joke was greeted with laughs, groans and a grimace from Lopez.
Three out of the four winners in the acting categories were not nominated for the Oscars in the same respective categories (Renee Zellweger took home the trophy for the best lead actress, and was the expected winner at Sunday's Academy Awards).
"For the first time at the Independent Spirit Awards, all five supporting actress nominees are women of color," noted presenter Idina Menzel. The Oscars only have one acting nominee that is a person of color — Cynthia Erivo for Harriet.
The supporting actress winner was The Farewell’s Zhao Shuzen, who was stuck in China due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (director Lulu Wang accepted the award on her behalf), while Willem Dafoe was tapped as best supporting actor for The Lighthouse.
The Farewell, Uncut Gems and The Lighthouse all hail from A24. After being nearly shut out of the Oscars, the indie studio was the biggest winner at Saturday's Spirit Awards ceremony, with its nominees prevailing in three out of the four acting categories, as well as for cinematography (Jarin Blaschke for The Lighthouse), editing (Ronald Bronstein & Benny Safdie for Uncut Gems), director (Uncut Gems' Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie) and picture (The Farewell). "They were the one who were able to give us the platform," said The Farewell's Wang of A24.
Adam Sandler, who was snubbed for a leading actor Oscar nomination for Uncut Gems, received a standing ovation as he made his way to the stage to accept his Spirit Award.
During his speech, the actor surmised of the gap between the Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards, using a personal anecdote: "A few weeks back when I got, quote-unquote, snubbed by the Oscars, it reminded me when I briefly attended high school and was overlooked for the coveted yearbook superlative ‘best looking.’ That accolade was given to a jean jacket-wearing, feather-haired douchebag by the name of Skipper Jenkins. But my classmates did honor me with the allegedly less prestigious ‘best personality.'"
He concluded: "Tonight, as I look around this room, I realize that the Independent Spirit Awards are the 'best personality' awards of Hollywood. So, when all those feather-haired, douchebag motherfuckers go to get their Oscars tomorrow night, their handsome good looks will fade in time … but our independent personalities will shine on forever."
The 35th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards aired on IFC.
A complete list of winners follows. Read all the news from the show here.
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