Live-Blogging the Film Independent Spirit Awards From a Tent on the Beach

By  · Published on February 25th, 2012

It’s the biggest weekend in Hollywood, so of course Film School Rejects will be reporting live from the scene – and this time, they actually let us in. Wait, no, not the Oscars, the Film Independent Spirit Awards! The Independent Spirit Awards have been around in one capacity or another since 1984 (they were the “FINDIE” – Friends of Independents – Awards for their first two years), and in the past twenty-eight years, the awards have sought to honor films made with “an economy of means” (from micro-budgets, all the way up to $20m). With the awards now traditionally taking place the day before the Oscars, the Independent Spirit Awards work quite nicely as counter-programming for the big show. And, for people like me, who placed a film like Take Shelter above the rest of last year’s offerings, it’s a very imporant event.

I’ll be updating the winners! live! from a tent on the beach! today! Which is cool not just because it’s so insanely “Los Angeles,” but because the award show itself takes place this afternoon (kicking off around 1:30PM PT), but the telecast doesn’t air until tonight (at 10PM EST/PST on the IFC Channel) – meaning that you dear Rejects-readers will be the first to know all the winners.

After the break, I’ll be updating the winners the very moment they are announced (with winners in red), but that’s not all! Because this is Film School Rejects, I will also be sharing funny bits from the press tent, opinions on the food in the press cantina, stellar quotes from the winners just moments after accepting their awards, and anything else that happens to pop up. It’s going to be fun, I promise.


12:57PM – I am settled into the press tent, with a lovely California wind blowing through the back of the structure. After fighting off other reporters (and, I think begging Movieline’s Jen Yamato for a Diet Coke), I have secured a chair, table, and working Internet! The awards show gods have smiled on me. I am starving.

1:02PM – Alonso Duralde is interviewing My Morning Jacket on the Yahoo! live stream. There is so much man-hair on the screen, but Alonso’s beard looks the best.

1:05PM – There is no food, but there is water. And booze. I have one or both of them. I will never tell. I run into Focus Features’ Gianluca Lignola in the “Press Cantina,” a friend and alumni of my own alma mater, Loyola Marymount University.

1:17PM – That “lovely California wind” is now positively chilling.

1:20PM – An editor sitting near me is actually yelling “mush! mush!” at her writer sitting next to her. I wish Grand Pooba Neil was here.

1:24PM – Five minute warning. I think I have frostbite.

1:26PM – Two minute warning. Who is this announcer? He sounds majestic.

1:29PM – Another member of the press arrives with his own chair. I thought I was on it by bringing my own Ethernet cable.

1:31PM – Pro tip: don’t show up for an awards show that starts at 1:30PM at 1:30PM.

1:32PM – Host Seth Rogen takes the stage. The crowd goes wild. Says he has “no fucking idea why we’re in a tent right now.” Touche. Rogen says the stage is “pretty fucking weird, too.” The stage crew in the tent is laughing hysterically.

1:35PM – The guy sitting next to me has a naked picture of his girlfriend (I assume?) as the background on his computer. Independent indeed!

1:37PM – Rogen is discussing the importance of awards season, including “Mostly, without awards season, we would not know what a horrible bigot Brett Ratner is.” He has now made a Chris Brown joke. The entire press tent is in stitches. Not sure how the crowd is taking this, but Rogen is winning big with the press. Big.

1:40PM – Rogen has been on stage for less than ten minutes, and I’m ready to start championing him to host everything ever.

1:43PM – Rogen starts up with Michael Fassbender dick jokes. Most of the press quickly decamps for the Cantina to grab boxed lunches. The press are so hungry.

1:46PM – Lunch is turkey on rye and a mini black and white cookie. This is literally my favorite lunch.

1:48PM – Presenters Zoe Saldana and Jeffrey Dean Morgan take stage to present Best Supporting Male.

1:49PM – Christopher Plummer wins for Beginners!

1:52PM – Plummer calls for everyone to raise their glass to Mike Mills.

1:57PM – Benjamin Bratt and Julia Ormond take the stage to present Best First Screenplay.

1:58PM – Will Reiser wins for 50/50!

1:59PM – Plummer enters the press room to wild applause and a fair amount of “woooOO!!!-ing.” He says he hopes awards buzz helps more people see the film. Jokes that he’s “going to croak any minute.”

2:02PM – The audio feed is cut to the press room from the show so we can all enjoy Plummer. Best Cinematography is up next, though I am so far away from the TV that I can’t see who the heck is presenting it.

2:04PM – Guillaume Schiffman wins for The Artist. Penelope Ann Miller accepts.

2:05PM – Garfunkel & Oats is now performing. A member of the press takes the stage and tells everyone in the front to basically sit the eff down so as to not block camera shots.

2:08PM – Will Reiser arrives in the press room. Says “the most validating part of making this movie is how it has really connected with people.” Reiser is currently writig a film “inspired by a vacation I took with my grandmother when I was 14” and how they ended up at a couples’ resort, where he lost her, partially due to the effects of Alzheimer’s settling on her. He says that, tonally, it’s very similar to 50/50.

2:12PM – John Hawkes and Lucy Liu take stage to present Best Supporting Female. Shailene Woodley wins!

2:14PM – Woodley says the film “completely transformed her life.”

2:15PM – Anna Kendrick intros the Best Feature package for 50/50.

2:16PM – Patricia Clarkson takes the stage to lead a toast to Bingham Ray.

2:20PM – Shailene Woodley enters the press tent with a sweet and unsteady “heyyyy.” She calls George Clooney “a super-human.” Batman?

2:25PM – Anne Heche and Ed Helms pop up to present the John Cassavetes Award – which is the award given to the best feature made for under $500,000). Pariah wins! Woooo!

2:26PM – Take a scarf everywhere. Everywhere.

2:27PM – Penelope Ann Miller intros the feature package for The Artist. Meanwhile, press dude gets back up on stage to ask that no one use flash photography. I smell rebellion.

2:30PM – Sorry, dudes, bathroom break.

2:33PM – Back! Man, those are some nice Port-a-Potties. Seriously. My Morning Jacket is performing, Dee Ree and Nekisa Cooper are up on the press room stage.

2:35PM – Have you guys seen Pariah? It’s wonderful. You should see it.

2:37PM – Rogen announces “a very special treat.” That being? “By the end of the night, Michael Shannon will murder someone in this room.”

2:38PM – Chris Pine and Jessica Chastain enter to present Best Male Lead. Oooh, I am excited! Shannon! Shannon! Shannon! Think I can start a chant in the press room?

2:40PM – Press room cheers win Shannon’s nominee package airs. JEAN DUJARDIN WINS. WHY. WHY. WHYYY.

2:41PM – Penelope Ann Miller accepts. Everyone else is apparently flying back from Paris and the Cesars. Didn’t that award show happen like three days ago? Did no one invite Miller? I am bitter, I can admit it.

2:42PM – Someone intros some Best Feature package for some film. I am too deflated to notice.

2:43PM – Professionalism wins again! Rashida Jones and Ethan Hawke are presenting award for Best Documentary. I will mope later. Team Senna! What? Senna was not nominated? Ugh – wait! The Interrupters wins! Justice! There is some justice!

2:47PM – Sophia Lin wins Piaget Producers Award for Take Shelter. A video package shows her tearful thank yous, as these winners were announced on January 14. I wooooo! to myself.

2:50PM – Elizabeth Banks and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are next up to announce Best Screenplay. Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash win for The Descendants.

2:53PM – Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz from The Interrupters arrive in press tent.

2:55PM – Best International Film to be announced! Some great picks in this list. Winner is A Separation. All of these nominees are quite deserving, so this is a bit of slam dunk category.

3:01PM – Also: take fingerless gloves everywhere. You’d think I hadn’t done this before (secret! I have!).

3:02PM – Laura Dern and Terrence Howard are presenting the Robert Altman Award, which is going to Margin Call, as announced way back when.

3:05PM – Zachary Quinto accepts the award, as he did double duty on the film – as actor and producer. Amusingly calls his day-to-day work as a producer as “a complete fucking nightmare.”

3:06PM – Bryan Cranston introes the Drive package. Looks better than ever.

3:07PM – Ileana Douglas introduces K’Naan. Holy shit, I am old – I have no idea who K’Naan is. Somebody call Google!

3:12PM – Grandma Kate really likes that lovely K’Naan fellow.

3:13PM – Rosario Dawson and Anthony Mackie are presenting Best First Feature. Given the Margin Call love, I’d be surprised if it doesn’t pull out the win.

3:17PM – Margin Call wins! Duh. You know what, for a first feature, that film is goddamn impressive – great cast, intelligent script, well-made.

3:18PM – Michael Shannon introduces the Take Shelter Best Feature package. I can’t overstate this enough – this film is phenomenal. His performance is phenomenal. Stop reading my ramblings and go watch it now.

3:21PM – Kirsten Dunst and Jonah Hill presenting something? They’re joking about how they pick who presents what awards – Hill thanks “” Anyone paying attention is giggling madly.

3:22PM – It’s Best Director! Hard to tell, because the photographers outside the tent are screaming at whoever is coming in next? Payne? Farhadi? Oh, it’s the cast of Margin Call!

3:24PM – And the winner is Michel Hazanavicius. I can’t. I don’t hate The Artist, but I consider it a well-made trifle and nothing more. There are better nominees, there are better choices.

3:26PM – Back in the press room, Quinto says he wants to keep acting and producing. One “woo!” from audience when he mentions filming Star Trek 2. It wasn’t from me, but only because I am too busy taking pictures of him on my iPhone and salivating like a dehydrated pug.

3:28PM – Olivia Wilde and Willem Dafoe presenting Best Female Lead. Chatter in press room: “what is Think of Me and how the hell can we see it?”

3:31PM – Michelle Williams wins for My Week with Marilyn. She jokes about first coming to the Spirit Awards ten years ago, wearing “her own clothes” and “cutting her own hair” and how that was “okay” in the context of everyone else in the audience. Sweet, applicable, honest speech.

3:36PM – Ben Kingsley is up to present the final award – Best Feature. “I love awards that are given to the right people for the right reasons.”

3:38PM – And the winner for Best Feature is…The Artist.

3:39PM – Sigh.

3:40PM – Holy crap, Michelle Williams is adorable. In the press tent, she’s asked what it feels like to finally win, she giggles, “I know! A friend told me I’m like the Susan Lucci of the Spirit Awards!”

3:45PM – If I was wearing pants, they would have been charmed off by Williams by now.

3:48PM – And that’s a wrap! Wait – no, not yet, everyone from The Artist is entering press tent, although obviously not everyone is still making their way back from Paris, persumably by row boat. Penelope Ann Miller says, “the French are always late.” French reporter behind me snickers. A reporter asks a long question entirely in French, which apparently translates to “what did Harvey Weinstein contribute to this film?” A departing member of the press yells “money!” Mirth has returned to the press room.

3:55PM – Another thing that’s returned to the press room? Camel Unfiltereds. Wow.

4:00PM – Okay, now that’s really a wrap – computer battery almost dead, might possibly have strep throat, hungry for more mini black and white cookies. Thanks for reading along, and thanks to the Independent Spirit Awards for running a tight ship, a brisk show, and for being so good to working press.


BEST FEATURE (Award given to the Producer, Executive Producers are not listed)
50/50 Producers: Evan Goldberg, Ben Karlin, Seth Rogen
Beginners Producers: Miranda de Pencier, Lars Knudsen, Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Jay Van Hoy
Drive Producers: Michel Litvak, John Palermo, Marc Platt, Gigi Pritzker, Adam Siegel
Take Shelter Producers: Tyler Davidson, Sophia Lin
The Artist Producer: Thomas Langmann
The Descendants Producers: Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor

Michel Hazanavicius The Artist
Mike Mills Beginners
Jeff Nichols Take Shelter
Alexander Payne The Descendants
Nicolas Winding Refn Drive

Joseph Cedar Footnote
Michel Hazanavicius The Artist
Tom McCarthy Win Win
Mike Mills Beginners
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash The Descendants

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
Another Earth Director: Mike CahillProducers: Mike Cahill, Hunter Gray, Brit Marling, Nicholas Shumaker
In the Family Director: Patrick WangProducers: Robert Tonino, Andrew van den Houten, Patrick Wang
Margin Call Director: J.C. Chandor Producers: Robert Ogden Barnum, Michael Benaroya, Neal Dodson, Joe Jenckes, Corey Moosa, Zachary Quinto
Martha Marcy May Marlene Director: Sean Durkin Producers: Antonio Campos, Patrick Cunningham, Chris Maybach, Josh Mond
Natural Selection Director: Robbie PickeringProducers: Brion Hambel, Paul Jensen

Mike Cahill, Brit Marling Another Earth
J.C. Chandor Margin Call
Patrick deWitt Terri
Phil Johnston Cedar Rapids
Will Reiser 50/50

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000. Award given to the writer, director, and producer.
Bellflower Writer/Director: Evan GlodellProducers: Evan Glodell, Vincent Grashaw
Circumstance Writer/Director: Maryam KeshavarzProducers: Karin Chien, Maryam Keshavarz, Melissa M. Lee
Hello Lonesome Writer/Director/Producer: Adam Reid
Pariah Writer/Director: Dee ReesProducer: Nekisa Cooper
The Dynamiter Writer: Brad InglesbyDirector: Matthew GordonProducers: Kevin Abrams, Matthew Gordon, Merilee Holt, Art Jones, Mike Jones, Nate Tuck, Amile Wilson

Lauren Ambrose Think of Me
Rachael Harris Natural Selection
Adepero Oduye Pariah
Elizabeth Olsen Martha Marcy May Marlene
Michelle Williams My Week with Marilyn

Demián Bichir A Better Life
Jean Dujardin The Artist
Ryan Gosling Drive
Woody Harrelson Rampart
Michael Shannon Take Shelter

Jessica Chastain Take Shelter
Anjelica Huston 50/50
Janet McTeer Albert Nobbs
Harmony Santana Gun Hill Road
Shailene Woodley The Descendants

Albert Brooks Drive
John Hawkes Martha Marcy May Marlene
Christopher Plummer Beginners
John C. Reilly Cedar Rapids
Corey Stoll Midnight in Paris

Joel Hodge Bellflower
Benjamin Kasulke The Off Hours
Darius Khondji Midnight in Paris
Guillaume Schiffman The Artist
Jeffrey Waldron The Dynamiter

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)
An African Election Director/Producer: Jarreth Merz
Bill Cunningham New York Director: Richard Press Producer: Philip Gefter
The Interrupters Director/Producer: Steve James Producer: Alex Kotlowitz
The Redemption of General Butt Naked Director/Producers: Eric Strauss, Daniele Anastasion
We Were Here Director/Producer: David Weissman

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)
A Separation (Iran) Director: Asghar Farhadi
Melancholia (Denmark/Sweden/France/Germany) Director: Lars von Trier
Shame (UK) Director: Steve McQueen
The Kid With a Bike (Belgium/France/Italy) Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Tyrannosaur (UK) Director: Paddy Considine

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 15th annual Piaget Producers Award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget.
Chad Burris Mosquita y Mari
Sophia Lin Take Shelter
Josh Mond Martha Marcy May Marlene

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 18th annual Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.
Simon Arthur Silver Tongues
Mark Jackson Without
Nicholas Ozeki Mamitas

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 17th annual Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.
Heather Courtney Where Soldiers Come From
Danfung Dennis Hell and Back Again
Alma Har’el Bombay Beach

Thanks to the Film Independent Spirit Awards for letting us in!