“The Artist” dominated at the 27th Film Independent Spirit awards as the tribute to Hollywood’s silent film era took best feature, best director for Michel Hazanavicius, best cinematographer for Guillaume Schiffman, and the best actor award for Jean Dujardin.
Saturday afternoon’s ceremonies — held at the usual white beachside tent — saw Hazanavicius arriving just in time to receive his award after getting a police escort from the airport along with producer Thomas Langmann. They’d been in Paris on Friday for the Cesar awards.
“This film was so much against conventional wisdom,” Langmann said from the stage after “The Artist” topped “Beginners,” “The Descendants,” “Drive,” “50/50” and “Take Shelter” for best feature.
Dujardin topped Demian Bechir for “A Better Life,” Woody Harrelson for “Rampart,” Michael Shannon for “Take Shelter” and Ryan Gosling for “Drive.”
Michelle Williams nabbed the best actress prize for her turn as Marilyn Monroe in “My Week with Marilyn.” She beat out Lauren Ambrose in “Think of Me,” Rachael Harris in “Natural Selection,” Adepero Oduye in “Pariah” and Elizabeth Olsen in “Martha Marcy May Marlene.”
In her acceptance, Williams recalled attending the Spirits for the first time a decade ago.
“I wore my own clothes, which were not very good,” she said. “And I cut my own hair, which was not very good. But I still remember feeling that in this room, that was O.K., possibly even preferred.”
Christopher Plummer won the supporting actor award for “Beginners” and Shailene Woodley took the supporting actress trophy for “The Descendants”
“Those four months shaped my young adult life,” Woodley said of the shoot in Hawaii.
Plummer began his acceptance by quipping, “It’s taken me the longest time to realize that the Spirit Awards have nothing to do with booze!”
Best first feature went to J.C. Chandor’s “Margin Call.” The drama also took home the Robert Altman Award, which had been announced in December.
“This movie was very hard to get made,” he said. “It shouldn’t have been that hard.”
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash won for best screenplay for “The Descendants,” topping Hazanavicius’ script for “The Artist,” Joseph Cedar for “Footnote,” Mike Mills for “Beginners” and Tom McCarthy for “Win Win.” Will Reiser won the best first screenplay award for “50-50.”
“Pariah” won the John Cassavetes award — given to films made for under $500,000 — for writer/director Dee Rees and producer Nekisa Cooper.
Rees got a big laugh when she said, “Any Saturday where you get to wear a sparkling hoodie and have two whiskeys before noon is fucking awesome.”
Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” won for best international film and Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz won best doc for “The Interrupters.”
Ceremonies include a toast from Patricia Clarkson to the late Bingham Ray. “This man was an independent film — gutsy, heartbreaking, ingenious, and with way too many curse words for PG-13,” she said.
Seth Rogen emceed and got off several zingers such as “I made it through the first 5 minutes of each of your movies.”
(Erin Maxwell contributed to this report.)
And the winners are:
“The Artist” – Producer: Thomas Langmann
Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”
Michelle Williams – “My Week with Marilyn”
Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”
Shailene Woodley – “The Descendants”
Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash – “The Descendants”
“Margin Call” – Director: J.C. Chandor; producers: Robert Ogden Barnum, Michael Benaroya, Neal Dodson, Joe Jenckes, Corey Moosa, Zachary Quinto
Will Reiser – “50/50”
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
“Pariah” – Writer/Director: Dee Rees; Producer: Nekisa Cooper
Guillaume Schiffman – “The Artist”
“The Interrupters” – Director/Producer: Steve James; Producer: Alex Kotlowitz
“A Separation” (Iran) – Director: Asghar Farhadi
AUDI SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Mark Jackson – “Without”
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
Sophia Lin – “Take Shelter”
TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Heather Courtney – “Where Soldiers Come From”
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
“Margin Call” – Director: J.C. Chandor; casting Director: Tiffany Little Canfield, Bernard Telsey
Ensemble Cast: Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci