The 16th annual Independent Spirit Awards found the Independent Feature Project/Westâ€™s annual celebration of American independent film expanding its traditional geographic boundaries to include the Taiwan/U.S. co-production â€œCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,â€ the March 24 eventâ€™s big winner. Ang Leeâ€™s language-barrier-breaking martial arts epic won all three awards for which it had been nominated: Best Feature, Best Director for Lee, and Best Supporting Female for Zhang Ziyi.
Except for Zhang, all winners in the top six categories are also nominated for Academy Awards. Best Male Lead went to Javier Bardem for his work as gay Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas in the biopic â€œBefore Night Falls,â€ directed by Julian Schnabel. Ellen Burstyn, who has earned many critics association kudos this awards season for her performance as a diet pill addict in Darren Aronofskyâ€™s bleak â€œRequiem for a Dream,â€ added the Best Female Lead trophy to her collection. The award for Best Supporting Male was given to Willem Dafoeâ€™s acclaimed performance as ultimate method actor Max Schreck in E. Elias Merhigeâ€™s speculative â€œShadow of the Vampire.â€ Kenneth Lonerganâ€™s much-lauded script for his sibling drama â€œYou Can Count on Meâ€ was named Best Screenplay; the film itself was also named Best First Feature.
â€œRequiemâ€ collected a second award, for Matthew Libatiqueâ€™s cinematography. â€œRequiemâ€â€™s distributor, Artisan Entertainment, added another Spirit Award to its credit with the Best Feature Under $500,000 winner, the strange Miguel Arteta-directed, Mike White-scripted comedy of obsessive friendship, â€œChuck & Buck.â€ Other buzzed-about selections in last yearâ€™s Sundance Film Festival were also honored: Karyn Kusamaâ€™s jury prize-winning female boxing drama â€œGirlfight,â€ was recognized when lead Michelle Rodriguez won the award for Best Debut Performance; and Gina Prince-Bythewood won Best First Screenplay for her sports-themed romance â€œLove & Basketball.â€
Spirit Award voters clearly landed on the â€œlove itâ€ side for Lars von Trierâ€™s musical melodrama â€œDancer in the Dark,â€ giving the controversial Cannes prizewinner the Best Foreign Film award. The somewhat similarly titled â€œDark Days,â€ Marc Singerâ€™s non-fiction account of abandoned subway tunnel dwellers, was named Best Documentary.
Unrestricted cash grants of $20,000 as well as trophies were given to the winners of three special awards designed to recognize and nurture up-and-coming talent. The Motorola Producers Award was given to Paul S. Mezey, producer of â€œThe Ballad of Ramblinâ€™ Jackâ€ and â€œSpring Forward.â€ This yearâ€™s Movado Someone to Watch Award, given to a fiction feature director, was won by Marc Forster, director of â€œEverything Put Together.â€ The sibling team of David and Laurie Gwen Shapiro were the documentary filmmakers honored with the DirecTV/IFC Truer Than Fiction Award.
LIST OF WINNERS ^ Best Feature: â€œCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonâ€ ^ Best Director: Ang Lee, â€œCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonâ€ ^ Best Male Lead: Javier Bardem, â€œBefore Night Fallsâ€ ^ Best Female Lead: Ellen Burstyn, â€œRequiem for a Dreamâ€^ Best Supporting Male: Willem Dafoe, â€œShadow of the Vampireâ€ ^ Best Supporting Female: Zhang Ziyi, â€œCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonâ€ ^ Best Screenplay: â€œYou Can Count on Meâ€ – Kenneth Lonergan ^ Best First Feature: â€œYou Can Count on Me,â€ directed by Kenneth Lonergan ^ Best First Screenplay: â€œLove & Basketballâ€ – Gina Prince-Bythewood ^ Best Feature under $500,000: â€œChuck & Buck,â€ directed by Miguel Arteta ^ Best Debut Performance: Michelle Rodriguez, â€œGirlfightâ€ ^ Best Cinematography: â€œRequiem for a Dreamâ€ – Matthew Libatique ^ Best Foreign Film: â€œDancer in the Dark,â€ directed by Lars von Trier ^ Best Documentary: â€œDark Days,â€ directed by Marc Singer ^ Motorola Producers Award: Paul S. Mezey, â€œThe Ballad of Ramblinâ€™ Jackâ€ and â€œSpring Forwardâ€ ^ Movado Someone to Watch Award: Marc Forster, â€œEverything Put Togetherâ€ ^ DirecTV/IFC Truer Than Fiction Award: David and Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Check out FILMTHREAT.comâ€™s NEWS ARCHIVES and get the movie news you missed!