Various celebs from the world of independent film made their way out to the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, CA yesterday to attend the annual Film Independent’s Spirit Awards which are traditionally handed out on the eve of the Academy Awards. Honoring independent film and independent filmmakers, the Indies are handed out in a casual and usually celebratory atmosphere … and last night’s awards show was no exception. The Wrestler and the film’s lead Mickey Rourke did very well at this year’s Indies, taking home the top film and male acting prize … setting the stage for a possible repeat at tonight’s Academy Awards. Here are a few photos from the red carpet arrivals and some info on last night’s awards show:
Mickey Rourke and “The Wrestler” have won top honors at the Spirit Awards, the annual eve-of-Oscars salute to the best of independent cinema. Rourke, a nominee at Sunday’s Academy Awards, won the best actor for his performance as a washed-up prizefighter in director Darren Aronofsky’s moving drama, which later scooped the ceremony’s best picture prize. Rourke’s award was the latest in a series of honors that have gone to the 56-year-old, who has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity after his career suffered a prolonged slump through the 1990s. In a typically profanity-laced acceptance speech, Rourke dedicated the win to “Wrestler” director Aronofsky — and his pet chihuahua, who died last week. “I’ve just gotten thousands of letters from strangers and people that know me about my dog that died six days ago, Loki. This is for you baby,” he said. “Thank you Darren Aronofsky for believing in me. Directors like Darren come around every 25 years,” added Rourke. Aronofksy said he had been drawn to the “The Wrestler” because of its subject matter. “Wrestling was a world no one had tackled in a serious way, and the more we looked into that world, the more complex it seemed,” he said. In other awards Saturday, Oscar nominee Melissa Leo won the best actress award for her performance in the human-trafficking drama “Frozen River.” Tom McCarthy meanwhile took best director honors for “The Visitor,” which is notable for helping journeyman Richard Jenkins earn a best actor nomination at Sunday’s Oscars. In the supporting actor and actress categories, Spanish siren Penelope Cruz won for her performance in Woody Allen’s steamy comedy “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” Cruz will be seeking to emulate the success at the Oscars, where she is nominated in the best supporting actress category. “I didn’t expect this,” Cruz said. “I go to all awards like this, not expecting anything, so it’s always a surprise when I win.” Meanwhile James Franco picked up the best supporting actor award for his portrayal of gay politician Harvey Milk’s long-time lover Scott Smith in the Gus Van Sant biopic “Milk,” which also earned best first screenplay for writer Dustin Lance Black. Black later paid tribute to Sean Penn’s portrayal of Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official. “Sean’s performance really captured Harvey,” Black said. “That’s why this film has such a connection beyond gay and lesbian audiences. We need to continue building the coalitions that Harvey was so good at.” In other notable awards Saturday, France’s “The Class (Entre Les Murs)” won the best foreign film, while the best documentary went to “Man on Wire,” director James Marsh’s exhilarating account of Frenchman Philippe Petit’s tight-rope walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. “What Philippe did was to stop time, it was a little miracle,” Marsh told reporters.
Altho the Film Indepedent’s Spirit Awards are only 25 years old, I love that there is a place for Indie films to get their due when, overwhelmingly, the Motion Picture Academy tends to overlook many amazing performances due to, well, their indieness. True, some Independent Films and actors get honored at the Academy Awards but, for the most part, name recognition plays a huge part in the voting process. I’m sure many of you have never even heard of the film Frozen River and yet, it was one of the year’s strongest films. After the jump, check out a couple photos from the show itself and some pics of a few winners posing with their Indie trophies in the press room afterward …
I LOVE LOVE LOVE that James Franco took home the award for Best Supporting Male. He turned in such an amazing performance in Milk, I’m thrilled for his win. I’m also happy that Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler took home the top prize. I have been a HUGE Aronofsky fan since his movies Pi and Requiem for a Dream changed the way I viewed movies (ie. as an art form and not merely as entertainment). If you have not seen either of those films GO SEE THEM NOW! They are amazing. While I don’t think that The Wrestler will win Best Picture at the Oscars tonight, my money is on Rourke to win the Best Actor trophy tonight. In any event, much congrats goes out to the winners at this year’s Film Indepedent’s Spirit Awards.