Nightcrawler won the 2015 Independent Spirit Award for best first feature.
Writer-director Dan Gilroy accepted the award presented by Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass. In his speech, he thanked stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed and Rene Russo, who’s also Gilroy’s wife.
He called Gyllenhaal “one of the most deeply talented, committed and fearless actors I believe alive today.” And he said Russo “inspires [him] on a daily basis.” He also called Ahmed’s performance “transformative.”
He also thanked distributor Open Road, “for just crushing our release.”
And Gilroy took a moment to praise independent filmmakers for battling a “tsunami of superhero movies.”
“Independent film, the foundation and everybody here today, I think, are holdouts against a tsunami of superhero movies that have swept over this industry,” he said in closing. “We have survived, and we have thrived, and I think that’s true spirit.”
Nightcrawler beat out fellow nominees Ana Lily Amirpour for A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Justin Simien for Dear White People, Gillian Robespierre for Obvious Child and Anja Marquardt for She’s Lost Control to take home the honor.
Gilroy returned to the stage shortly after accepting the best first feature award to accept Nightcrawler‘s second award of the night, for best screenplay.
The Independent Spirit Awards exclusively honors independent films, bringing together top Hollywood talent and independent filmmakers. Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell co-hosted the 30th annual event, which was broadcast live on IFC.