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After a pre-taped segment showed Jon Hamm interrupting Plaza hallucinating herself as Judy Garland — “Why host an awards show for film when film is fucking dead? What even is film anymore?” Plaza cried mid-breakdown. “No one goes to the theaters. No one even knows what a movie is anymore. Everyone’s just on their goddamn phones. Everyone’s just watching shit on their phones!” — the actress took the stage still embracing the musical stylings of the famed star. Singing her own version of “Get Happy,” Plaza poked fun at various nominees and guests.
“Oh, my God, the guy who runs Netflix is here — Ted Sarandos! You know what, sorry, Ted, I’m just going to scroll right past you and find someone more interesting to talk about,” the host joked. “No offense, but you started it, buddy! And hey, you know what, keep that money faucet running, would ya? We’re all counting on it.”
Plaza went on to congratulate The Lighthouse‘s Willem Dafoe for landing what seemed to be a perfect role — “I just want to say I’m so glad that after years of looking like a 19th-century lighthouse keeper, you finally got to play one” — along with Hustlers‘ Jennifer Lopez for performing at the Super Bowl last weekend.
“What did you do last weekend, Mary Kay Place?” Plaza said afterward. “Nothing, you lazy sack of shit!”
J.Lo received another shout-out from the host for being a fellow “super-hot Puerto Rican.”
“I mention that because Puerto Rico is kind of like an independent film,” Plaza added. “It’s beautiful, not enough people have seen it and its financing is always falling through.”
She also took several shots at the Oscars — one for stealing away Marriage Story‘s Adam Driver, who wasn’t in attendance, and another for being less “cool” than the Spirit Awards: “It’s the daytime. We’re on the beach. We recognize female directors. All two of them. But seriously, I’m so proud of how diverse this show is.”
In 2019, Plaza was the Spirit Awards’ first solo host in four years. Nick Kroll and John Mulaney emceed in both 2017 and 2018, following the lead of Kate McKinnon and Kumail Nanjiani in 2016 and Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell in 2015.
Film Independent president Josh Welsh first announced that Plaza would host for the second year in a row back in December. “At a time when the world is so bitterly divided and civil discourse is almost impossible, it’s nice we can all agree that Aubrey Plaza is the greatest host in the history of hosting,” said Welsh. “We are thrilled to have her back.”
Competing for this year’s top prize of best feature were A Hidden Life, Clemency, The Farewell, Marriage Story and Uncut Gems. The latter, along with The Lighthouse, led the noms with five each.
Marriage Story was also set to be recognized with the Robert Altman Award, given to a film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast.
The 35th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards were handed out on the beach in Santa Monica and aired live on IFC.
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