25 years of high Spirits

Sampling of prolific talents honored by the kudos


No director in the history of the Spirits has been nominated for two best films in one year, but Stone’s “Platoon” won prizes for feature, director, screenplay and cinematography, while his “Salvador” was nommed in just as many categories and won a prize for James Woods.


Before there was a docu category and the Academy knew what to do with him, Morris garnered noms for feature and director for “The Thin Blue Line.” Though he didn’t win, Morris would eventually take home nonfiction Spirits for “Fast, Cheap and Out of Control” (1998) and “The Fog of War” (2004).


Now a studio filmmaker (“Miss Congeniality”), Petrie was once an untried director, winning a first-feature prize for “Mystic Pizza,” which, as we all know now, starred a young actress by the name of Julia Roberts.


The Oscars may have snubbed “sex, lies and videotape,” but Soderbergh’s groundbreaking indie was embraced at the Spirits, where it won prizes for feature, director and its leading actresses, Andie MacDowell and Laura San Giacomo.


“Drugstore Cowboy” — winner of prizes for screenplay, cinematography and young actors Matt Dillon and Max Perlich — was just the beginning for Van Sant’s Spirits honors. Over the years, he has garnered more noms — a total of nine — than any other person.


The once little-known Kiwi director beat out vets Peter Greenaway and Shohei Imamura, among others, for her first of three foreign-film wins (starting with “Sweetie,” followed by “An Angel at My Table” and “The Piano”), the most of any foreign filmmaker.


The Spirits have always been kinder to women filmmakers than Oscar, but it wasn’t until Coolidge’s “Rambling Rose” — also the best feature winner — that a female helmer took home the directing prize.


Though her first feature as a producer, “Poison,” lost out to “Straight Out of Brooklyn” for best first film that year, Vachon would go on to be nominated eight times — more than any other producer.


Rodriguez was embarrassed by his “El Mariachi” triumph for best first feature — at $7,000, the cheapest production ever to win. “I tried to bury this movie,” he said in his acceptance speech. “Give me a week and $2,000,” he told his distributor, Columbia, at the awards show, “and I’ll reshoot half of it.”


With help from his Spirit win for debut performance in Neil La-Bute’s “In the Company of Men,” Eckhart went from being a struggling actor from Brigham Young U. to the industry’s favorite new bad boy.


Veteran Duvall left the familiar terrain of Hollywood (“This truly was an independent film,” he said at the awards), and won big with “The Apostle,” taking home statuettes for feature, director and actor.


More than a decade after her Brat Pack heyday, Sheedy made a big comeback with her actress win for “High Art.” During her emotional speech, the longest ever in Spirit history, she remarked, “It’s my time. I’m glad I wore my waterproof mascara.”


They don’t call it the Someone to Watch Award for nothing. After winning for his debut, “Everything Put Together,” the helmer went on to direct “Monster’s Ball,” “Finding Neverland,” “The Kite Runner” and the 22nd installment of the Bond franchise, among others.


With more directing noms than any other filmmaker, Haynes hit it big with “Far From Heaven,” winning prizes for best feature, director, female lead, supporting male and cinematography.


Embraced at the Spirits, booed at the Oscars, Moore’s political victory speech for “Bowling for Columbine” (“Shame on you, Mr. Bush”) demonstrated the difference between the two awards gatherings.


After six noms over the years, the veteran producer finally won his first Spirit, for “Brokeback Mountain.”

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