Film Independent Spirit Awards: 'The Farewell' Takes Best Feature; Complete Winners List

1:42 PM 2/8/2020

by Mia Galuppo, Kimberly Nordyke, and Annie Howard

Other winners included Adam Sandler for best male lead, Renée Zellweger for best female lead, the Safdie brothers for best director and Noah Baumbach for best screenplay.

Lulu Wang, Adam Sandler, Renee Zellweger and Noah Baumbach_Split - Getty - H 2020
Getty Images

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.

  • Best Feature

    The Farewell (WINNER)
    Producers: Anita Gou, Daniele Melia, Andrew Miano, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Lulu Wang, Chris Weitz, Jane Zheng

    A Hidden Life
    Producers: Elisabeth Bentley, Dario Bergesio, Grant Hill, Josh Jeter

    Producers: Timur Bekbosunov, Julian Cautherley, Bronwyn Cornelius, Peter Wong

    Marriage Story
    Producers: Noah Baumbach, David Heyman

    Uncut Gems
    Producers: Eli Bush, Sebastian Bear-McClard, Scott Rudin

  • Best First Feature

    Booksmart (WINNER)
    Director: Olivia Wilde
    Producers: Chelsea Barnard, David Distenfeld, Jessica Elbaum, Megan Ellison, Katie Silberman

    The Climb
    Director/Producer: Michael Angelo Covino
    Producers: Noah Lang, Kyle Marvin

    Director: Kent Jones
    Producers: Luca Borghese, Ben Howe, Caroline Kaplan, Oren Moverman

    The Last Black Man in San Francisco
    Director/Producer: Joe Talbot
    Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Khaliah Neal, Christina Oh

    The Mustang
    Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
    Producer: Ilan Goldman

    See You Yesterday
    Director: Stefon Bristol
    Producer: Spike Lee

  • Best Director

    Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie, Uncut Gems (WINNER)
    Alma Har'el, Honey Boy
    Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers
    Julius Onah, Luce
    Robert Eggers, The Lighthouse

  • Best Female Lead

    Renée Zellweger, Judy (WINNER)
    Karen Allen, Colewell
    Hong Chau, Driveways
    Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell
    Mary Kay Place, Diane
    Alfre Woodard, Clemency

  • Best Male Lead

    Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems (WINNER)
    Chris Galust, Give Me Liberty
    Kelvin Harrison Jr., Luce
    Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse
    Matthias Schoenaerts, The Mustang

  • Best Supporting Female

    Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell (WINNER)
    Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
    Taylor Russell, Waves
    Lauren "LoLo" Spencer, Give Me Liberty
    Octavia Spencer, Luce

  • Best Supporting Male

    Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse (WINNER)
    Noah Jupe, Honey Boy
    Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy
    Jonathan Majors, The Last Black Man in San Francisco
    Wendell Pierce, Burning Cane

  • Best Screenplay

    Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story (WINNER)
    Jason Begue & Shawn Snyder, To Dust
    Ronald Bronstein & Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie, Uncut Gems
    Chinonye Chukwu, Clemency
    Tarell Alvin McCraney, High Flying Bird

  • Best First Screenplay

    Fredrica Bailey & Stefon Bristol, See You Yesterday (WINNER)
    Hannah Bos & Paul Thureen, Driveways
    Bridget Savage Cole & Danielle Krudy, Blow the Man Down
    Jocelyn DeBoer & Dawn Luebbe, Greener Grass
    James Montague & Craig W. Sanger, The Vast of Night

  • Best International Film

    Parasite (South Korea), Director: Bong Joon Ho (WINNER)
    Invisible Life (Brazil), Director: Karim Aïnouz
    Les Misérables (France), Director: Ladj Ly
    Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France), Director: Céline Sciamma
    Retablo (Peru), Director: Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio L.
    The Souvenir (United Kingdom), Director: Joanna Hogg

  • Best Documentary

    American Factory (WINNER)
    Director/Producer: Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert
    Producers: Julie Parker Benello, Jeff Reichert

    Apollo 11
    Director/Producer: Todd Douglas Miller
    Producers: Evan Krauss, Thomas Baxley Petersen

    For Sama
    Director: Edward Watts
    Director/Producer: Waad al-Kateab

    Director: Tamara Kotevska
    Director/Producer: Ljubo Stefanov
    Producer: Atanas Georgiev

    Island of the Hungry Ghosts
    Director/Producer: Gabrielle Brady
    Producers: Gizem Acarla, Samm Haillay, Alex Kelly, Alexander Wadouh

  • Best Cinematography

    Jarin Blaschke, The Lighthouse (WINNER)
    Todd Banhazl, Hustlers
    Natasha Braier, Honey Boy
    Chananun Chotrungroj, The Third Wife
    Pawel Pogorzelski, Midsommar

  • Best Editing

    Ronald Bronstein & Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems (WINNER)
    Julie Béziau, The Third Wife
    Tyler L. Cook, Sword of Trust
    Louise Ford, The Lighthouse
    Kirill Mikhanovsky, Give Me Liberty

  • Robert Altman Award

    Marriage Story
    Director: Noah Baumbach
    Casting Directors: Douglas Aibel, Francine Maisler
    Ensemble Cast: Alan Alda, Laura Dern, Adam Driver, Julie Hagerty, Scarlett Johansson, Ray Liotta, Azhy Robertson, Merritt Wever

  • John Cassavetes Award

    Give Me Liberty (WINNER)
    Writer/Director/Producer: Kirill Mikhanovsky
    Writer/Producer: Alice Austen
    Producers: Val Abel, Wally Hall, Michael Manasseri, George Rush, Sergey Shtern

    Burning Cane
    Writer/Director/Producer: Phillip Youmans
    Producers: Ojo Akinlana, Jakob Johnson, Karen Kaia Livers, Mose Mayer, Wendell Pierce, Isaac Webb, Cassandra Youmans

    Writer/Director: Tom Quinn
    Producers: Joshua Blum, Alexandra Byer, Craig Shilowich, Matthew Thurm

    Writer/Director/Producer: Rashaad Ernesto Green
    Writer: Zora Howard
    Producer: Darren Dean, Joy Ganes

    Wild Nights With Emily
    Writer/Director/Producer: Madeleine Olnek
    Producers: Anna Margarita Albelo, Casper Andreas, Max Rifkind-Barron

  • Bonnie Award

    Kelly Reichardt (WINNER)
    Marielle Heller
    Lulu Wang

  • Producers Award

    Mollye Asher (WINNER)
    Krista Parris
    Ryan Zacarias

  • Someone to Watch Award

    Rashaad Ernesto Green, Director of Premature (WINNER)
    Ash Mayfair, Director of The Third Wife
    Joe Talbot, Director of The Last Black Man in San Francisco

  • Truer Than Fiction Award

    Nadia Shihab, Director of Jaddoland (WINNER)
    Khalik Allah, Director of Black Mother
    Davy Rothbart, Director of 17 Blocks
    Erick Stoll & Chase Whiteside, Director of América