Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter, as well as Japanese drama Drive My Car and the documentary Summer of Soul were among the big winners at the 37th Film Independent Spirit Awards on Sunday.
The ceremony, hosted by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, was held in a tent by the beach in Santa Monica, California. It is considered a casual counterpart to some of the more traditional film awards shows.
“If you don’t win, you can just walk straight into the ocean,” Offerman joked.
Gyllenhaal won Best Feature, Best Director and Best Screenplay for her adaptation of the Elena Ferrante novel The Lost Daughter.
Through tears, Gyllenhaal said that more than anything she believes in love. She was also effusive in her praise for her crew.
“You were the first people to tell me I was a director,” she said. “Thank you to Netflix — I can’t even believe this — for your support. Nobody ever makes their first movie and comes out loving their financiers.
“I love independent film,” Gyllenhaal added. “I grew up making independent film.”
Taylour Paige won Best Female Lead for Zola, which is based on a Twitter thread about a wild trip to Florida.
“Wow, I am in shock," she said.
She thanked her grandmother, who died on the day she got word of her nomination, and Zola for “knowing that your story was worth telling”.
Simon Rex won Best Male Lead for playing a former adult film star in Sean Baker’s Red Rocket. Rex said his career was in the dumps before Baker called him for the shoestring film.
“I’m reeling from the whole experience,” Rex said. “This is basically a glorified student film … I’m grateful and humbled.”
Mullally and Offerman got the show off to a lively start, both in three-piece suits with no shirt underneath. Comedienne Sarah Silverman made an appearance in a pre-taped segment offering her services as a backup host because Mullally and Offerman joined Twitter “before 2015”.
The married co-hosts said they had hoped to be the biggest Hollywood couple in the room and were dismayed that Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard were there to upstage them.
“A-listers and indie stars? Pick a lane,” Offerman said.
They acknowledged Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Offerman said he hopes Putin "goes home" and implored the audience to send him off with a “Spirit Awards salute”.
The show’s honorary chairwoman Kristen Stewart also spoke about the war.
“We’re compelled to stand with the people of Ukraine,” she said. “We stand with the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing this war.”
Historically, the Spirit Awards are held on the Saturday afternoon before the Oscars, but this year it was brought forward several weeks.
Summer of Soul won Best Documentary. The film brings back to life the largely forgotten Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969.
“I’m not going to cry right now, I’m not, I’m not,” Summer of Soul director Questlove said.
Troy Kotsur got another boost before the Oscars, winning Best Supporting Actor for Coda. He also won the Screen Actors Guild prize.
“I can feel the spirit of the arts and we can celebrate together,” Kotsur said.
Squid Game’s Lee Jung-jae also followed up his SAG win with a Spirit Award for Best Male Lead.
Marlee Matlin, who presented the first screenplay award to Michael Sarnoski for Pig, implored the screenwriters to think of deaf actors when crafting scripts.
Andrew Garfield made an appearance to present the Robert Altman Award to his friend Fran Kranz, who he acted with in a Mike Nichols play. Kranz’s debut, Mass, is a small ensemble about a mediation between parents of a victim and the perpetrator of a school shooting.
Best Supporting Female went to Ruth Negga, for her turn in Rebecca Hall’s Passing. A technical glitch muted the first part of her virtual speech. The black-and-white Netflix film also won Eduard Grau the Best Cinematography trophy.
The awards show can sometimes serve as a preview of what will happen on Oscars night. Last year, Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland picked up Best Feature and Director at the Spirit Awards, before going on to win the top prizes at the Oscars. Moonlight, Spotlight, Birdman and 12 Years a Slave also all won at the Spirits before taking Best Picture at the Oscars.
Because of their production budgets, many top awards contenders this year were not eligible, including Belfast, King Richard and The Power of the Dog. To be considered, films must have cost less than $22.5 million to make.
Scroll through the gallery below to see photos from the blue carpet of the event.