Steve McQueen“>Steve McQueen‘s “12 Years a Slave” dominated the Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday afternoon, taking home five awards including Best Feature, Best Director for Steve McQueen“>Steve McQueen, Best Supporting Female for Lupita Nyong'o, Best Screenplay for John Ridley and Best Cinematography for Sean Bobbitt.
“12 Years a Slave” is locked in a tight battle with “Gravity” and “American Hustle” for the top Oscar, but neither of those films were eligible for at the Spirit Awards, which are open to movies made for budgets of less than $20 million.
The drama’s triumph in a zero-“Gravity” zone was expected, as Spirit Awards voters in recent years have typically gone for the most high-profile Oscar contender on the ballot.
In the lead acting categories McConaughey and Cate Blanchett continued their sweeps through awards season, winning the Best Female Lead and Best Male Lead awards just as they’d won most of the preceding awards over the past month.
McConaughey is considered the likely Oscar winner for his performance as Ron Woodruff, a Texas electrician who became a reluctant crusader in the battle against AIDS, while Blanchett is the prohibitive favorite for her performance as a pill-popping, alcoholic divorcee in Woody Allen‘s “Blue Jasmine.”
In an eloquent speech, Nyong’o said she realized after taking an independent film class in college that “independent film is where stuff actually happens — stuff that matters.”
Leto’s speech included a thank-you to “all the women I’ve been with, and all the women who think they’ve been with me,” and another to “my future ex-wife — Lupita, I’m thinking of you.”
“Fruitvale Station” won the award for Best First Feature, with director Ryan Coogler drawing a standing ovation with his emotional speech pointing out other cases similar to the one depicted in his film, in which a young, unarmed black man was gunned down by transit police in Northern California.
Bob Nelson won the Best First Screenplay award for “Nebraska,” which he wrote about 10 years ago while working in television in Seattle.
The John Cassavetes Award, which goes to an ultra low-budget film, went to Chad Haritgan for the understated study “This Is Martin Bonner,” which Hartigan said was made for $42,000.
The show was hosted by Patton Oswalt, whose opening monologue drew a few groans and very little laughter.
Also read: Patton Oswalt on a Spirit Awards Joke Gone Awry: ‘We’re Not Doing the Birds Thing’
In the first 28 years of the Spirit Awards’ existence, its best-feature winner went on to take the top Oscar only twice: “Platoon” at the second Spirit Awards in 1988, and “The Artist” at the second-to-last one in 2012.
Other recent winners include “Black Swan,” “Precious,” “The Wrestler,” “Juno” and last year’s top film, “Silver Linings Playbook.”
The show will air on IFC Saturday night at 10 ET/PT.
Here is the list of nominees. Winners indicated by *WINNER.
“12 Years a Slave” *WINNER
“All Is Lost”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
Woody Allen, “Blue Jasmine”
Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater, “Before Midnight”
Nicole Holofcener, “Enough Said”
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, “The Spectacular Now”
John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave” *WINNER
Best Male Lead:
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club” *WINNER
Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”
Best First Feature:
“Fruitvale Station” *WINNER
Best First Screenplay:
“In a World,” Lake Bell
“Don Jon,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt
“Nebraska,” Bob Nelson *WINNER
“Afternoon Delight,” Jill Soloway
“The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” Michael Starrbury
John Cassavetes Award:
“This Is Martin Bonner” *WINNER
Sean Bobbit, “12 Years a Slave” *WINNER
Benoit Debie, “Spring Breakers”
Bruno Delbonnel, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Frank G. DeMarco, “All Is Lost”
Matthias Grunsky, “Computer Chess”
“20 Feet From Stardom” *WINNER
“The Act of Killing”
Best International Film:
“A Touch of Sin”
“Blue Is the Warmest Color” *WINNER
“The Great Beauty”
Robert Altman Award (given to a film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast): “Mud”
Piaget Producers Award: Toby Halbrooks & James M. Johnston
Someone to Watch Award: “Newlyweeds,” Shake King
Truer Than Fiction Award: “Let the Fire Burn,” Jason Osder