‘Memento’ tops Indie Spirit Awards

Four nods given to Nolan's memory twister

HOLLYWOOD — “Memento” will be remembered as the top prize winner at the 17th annual Independent Spirit Awards.

The Newmarket pic earned four awards, including best feature, director and screenplay for Christopher Nolan and supporting actress for Carrie-Anne Moss.

Following “Memento” with three awards was “In the Bedroom,” which received statues for lead actor Tom Wilkinson and lead actress Sissy Spacek, as well the first feature nod for tyro helmer Todd Field.

“Ghost World” star Steve Buscemi took the award for supporting actor, with the first screenplay gong going to Daniel Clowes and director Terry Zwigoff.

“L.I.E.” also took two prizes. Actor Paul Franklin Dano was honored for debut performance, and the film’s producers, Rene Bastian and Linda Moran, took home the $20,000 Motorola Producers Award.

John Waters repeated his duties as the event’s mouthy overseer, or, as he described himself in his opening remarks, “the mentally ill host who wishes that someone would streak him.”

Although the Independent Spirit Awards carry almost no value as a prognosticator of the Academy Awards that are announced the following evening, the event has earned a spot as a beloved member of the prize-giving season. Not only does it honor many films that are high in artistic integrity but low (or nonexistent) in box office, but the event is free from the pretension that often infects award programming.

Free advice

“Tattoo ‘Make Good Movies’ on your chest and look down once in a while,” said “Memento” co-star Joe Pantoliano in a moment of free advice to studio executives. Pantoliano made the remark while introducing a clip from the film, which features a man who has only bursts of short-term memory and must tattoo all vital information on his body.

“I’d like to welcome you to our parking lot,” said Stacey Peralta, director of the skateboarding documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys.” Pic, which will be released by Sony Pictures Classics April 26, traces the rise of skateboarding from its roots in Venice and Santa Monica — with one of the favored skating sites being the tented parking lot where Spirit Award guests were seated.

Award presenter Kevin Pollak, star of “The Project Greenlight Movie: Stolen Summer,” also made an unbidden suggestion: “As an actor or actress, if anyone asks you to be in a ‘Project Greenlight,’ race away. Find someplace else to be.”

Event had its more prosaic moments as well. In accepting his award for first feature, “In the Bedroom” helmer Todd Field described the act as “trying to climb Mt. Everest with three pickup trucks strapped to your back.”

Tom Wilkinson, who picked up an Independent Spirit award as best actor for “Bedroom,” is nominated for the same award by the Academy. “Anything that happens tomorrow is an anticlimax,” he said.

Idiosyncratic choices

Event still shows its faith in the most idiosyncratic indies, nominating films like “Virgil Bliss” and “Kaaterskill Falls” that have yet to find outlets beyond festival exposure and awarding the $20,000 Truer Than Fiction prize to Monteith McCollum for “Hybrid,” his critically acclaimed docu on the rise of hybrid corn. The lion’s share of the Independent Spirit awards, however, went to films with the widest distribution patterns.

The afternoon ceremony was held Saturday under a tent on the Santa Monica beach. The ceremony aired live on the Independent Film Channel.

And the winners are…

Feature

“Memento” (Newmarket Films) producers Jennifer Todd & Suzanne Todd

Director

Christopher Nolan, “Memento” (Newmarket Films)

Screenplay

Christopher Nolan, “Memento” (Newmarket Films)

First Feature

“In The Bedroom,” director Todd Field (Miramax Films)

First Screenplay

Daniel Clowes & Terry Zwigoff, “Ghost World” (United Artists)

John Cassavetes Award for Best Feature – Under $500,000

“Jackpot” (Sony Pictures Classics), Director, Michael Polish, Writer/Producers, Mark Polish & Michael Polish

Debut Performance

Paul Franklin Dano, “L.I.E.” (Lot 47 Films)

Supporting Actress

Carrie-Anne Moss, “Memento” (Newmarket Films)

Supporting Actor

Steve Buscemi,”Ghost World” (United Artists)

Actress

Sissy Spacek, “In The Bedroom” (Miramax Films)

Actor

Tom Wilkinson, “In The Bedroom” (Miramax Films)

Cinematographer

Peter Deming, “Mulholland Drive” (Universal Focus)

Foreign Film

“Amelie” (Miramax Films), Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Documentary

“Dogtown and Z-Boys” (Sony Pictures Classics), Director Stacy Peralta

Motorola Producers Award

René Bastian & Linda Moran, for Martin and Orloff, and “L.I.E.”

Turning Leaf Coastal Reserve Someone To Watch Award

Debra Eisenstadt, director of “Daydream Believer.”

DIRECTV/IFC Truer Than Fiction Award

Monteith McCollum, director of “Hybrid.”

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