Going in it was Fox Searchlight's scrappy "Beasts of the Southern Wild" vs. Weinstein Co.'s "Silver Linings Playbook" at the 28th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards Saturday at the sunny beach in Santa Monica. The show, which airs at 10 PM on IFC, was hosted by SNL's Andy Samberg, who played well to the room; the highlights were several video spoofs of the nominees, including Samberg's Skype auditions. "We've got Matthew McConaughey," said Samberg. "Hollywood fuck you!" (See our backstage coverage here.)
In the end, "Silver Linings" prevailed with four awards: best feature, actress (Oscar frontrunner Jennifer Lawrence), director and screenplay (David O. Russell), while "Beasts" had to settle for best cinematography (Ben Richardson). "Bernie," "Keep the Lights On" and "Moonrise Kingdom," even with the Coppola clan on hand to support Roman, went home empty-handed. (Wes Anderson has been a no-show during awards season as he shoots a film in Europe.)
Searchlight's "The Sessions" won two awards, for supporting actress Helen Hunt and best actor John Hawke, with a surprise win over "Silver Linings" star Bradley Cooper. At the Spirits the Oscar nominee often wins; in this case a dramatic performance beat out the comedic one. Hunt, who is not expected to win at the Oscars Sunday, said she was thrilled that writer-director Ben Lewin "made a movie about healthy sexuality...a miracle."
Samberg gave Hawke a hard time about not going as nude as his co-star Hunt, saying: "Come on man! I want to see that winter's bone!"
As expected, Oscar foreign frontrunner "Amour" won best international film. Michael Haneke thanked Sony Pictures Classics, his actors Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, who won Cesars Friday night, and said, "I'm the oldest man in the whole room!"
Skinny supporting actor winner Matthew McConaughey sang his acceptance speech for his performance as the owner of a male strip club in Steven Soderbergh's "Magic Mike": "I take my pants off to win a trophy!" He added, "Lets keep making indie movies, make specific stories not expensive ones." The actor had a good night: he also told an hilarious story about co-starring with his mother in Richard Linklater's "Bernie" in his intro to that nominated feature.
Best doc went to Kirby Dick's Oscar-nominated "The Invisible War." "Our service members are no longer invisible," said producer Amy Ziering. John Cassavetes award-winner Ava DuVernay cited Cassavetes as a distributor as well as a director; she also did both on "Middle of Nowhere."
Best first feature winner Stephen Chbosky, when accepting his win for adapting and directing his own novel "Perks of Being a Wallflower," said, "smaller movies need big friends." Indeed.
The Full List of Winners for the 2013 Film Independent Spirit Awards is below: