“Moonlight” was the big winner Saturday at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney hosting the most casual awards shows on the calendar in a beachfront tent in Santa Monica.
Although the show was telecast on IFC, those watching missed some action that only those attending the ceremony were privy to. Lucky for you, TheWrap was there for the fun.
Here are some things seen and heard:
While the pre-show action is outside the tent, the early faces inside are “Hell or High Water” writer Taylor Sheridan, the Fox Searchlight team, IMDb founder Col Needham, producer Lauren Selig and Kenneth Lonergan. Places are set at front row tables for Freida Pinto, Orlando Bloom, Colin Hanks and “Fargo” lovebirds Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst, who have yet to arrive.
Table 227 is “Loving.” It’s buzzing. Director Jeff Nichols and producer Colin Firth are engaged in an animated conversation, as Ruth Negga is approached by a constant stream of greeters. She’s also up for an Oscar on Sunday.
In her trademark black and white, Janelle Monae is the first to arrive at the “Moonlight” table. Kerry Washington glides in to find her spot at the table next door. As more of the “Moonlight” ensemble arrive, it’s seflie time with the “Scandal” star. Film Independent President Josh Welsh is a table-neighbor to both.
Matt Damon and his “Manchester by the Sea” producer Chris Moore are holding court in the middle of the room. They are pals going all the way back to the HBO version of “Project Greenlight” in 2002.
The show is starting in the tent even though it does not air live until 2 p.m. Colin Hanks walks out on stage to present the first off-air award — editing. “Moonlight” wins. Of all the nominees, “Moonlight” received the biggest cheer in the package. Even before the show starts, the win for Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders got a standing ovation. The room is hot for “Moonlight.” The benefit of the early off-air win is that they can give long acceptance speeches.
Josh Welsh thanks the press for being here at a time when they’ve been called “the enemy of the American people.” It gets a loud applause. Welsh reveals that he called the ACLU to recruit their help to make sure that foreign filmmakers could attend because of the “travel ban.”
During John Mulaney and Nick Kroll’s monologue riffing on celebrity cutaways, intended target Samuel L Jackson is not here. Exec Producer Joel Gallen interjects on the house PA — blaring into the room during the show and over their monologue as the voice of God — to say “not here.” As you saw on TV, Jackson would show up later.
After Ben Foster’s win for “Hell or High Water,” he walks off stage back to his table. Laura Prepon repeatedly grabs and kisses him. As a press staffer comes to wrangle him out of his seat moments later, he stands up, cracks open the bottle of Bulleit Bourbon that’s on his table, and pours himself a glass — neat, no ice — as a “roadie” for his trip backstage.
— @CelebSightings (@CelebSightings) February 25, 2017
Molly Shannon dissolves in raw manic emotion, as she wins for Best Supporting Actress for “Other People” and speaks about cancer. We hope Josh Welsh will forgive her for breaking the “no paper list of thank you’s.” As the show goes to commercial she gets a standing O and runs back into the crowd. Kate Beckinsale runs over to join her.
Nick Kroll takes the stage during a break. “It’s a commercial break, but we are going to present an award so… *singing*… Shut the f–k up!” The crowd is loose now. They love the candor.
Gary Clark Jr. continues to play after the show ends. A small crowd stands around watching the free bonus concert.
Although the night is chilly — for southern California — Jon Hamm and Barry Jenkins were still signing autographs outside long after the show ended.
Update Bonus Items:
Sundance Selects and IFC’s Spirit Awards after party at 41 Ocean is going so strong that the hosts extend it for another hour. Victorious Ezra Edelman (“O.J. Made in America”), Taylor Sheridan, and Zoe Lister Jones were amongst the crowd. There is a Peet’s Coffee bar to cut against the booze soaked afternoon at the beach.
Fresh from her Spirit Award win, Isabelle Huppert heads to Sony Pictures Classics’ Oscars eve dinner at STK inside the W hotel. Co-Presidents Tom Bernard and Michael Barker gave a 15-minute toast to the “Elle” leading lady and their other nominees.