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“Birdman” won the Spirit Award for best feature, and Michael Keaton nabbed the statue for actor for Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s whimsical comedy-drama that dominated the 30th edition of the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

The film thus triumphed in two of the categories that have been most difficult to predict this awards season. The feature trophy went to producers Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan and James W. Skotchdopole.

Richard Linklater was named top director for “Boyhood.” The split between the helmer/pic prizes could be a foreshadowing of Sunday’s Oscars, since the top races are hard to call. And Oscar could throw a few other curve balls into the mix, since “American Sniper,” and “The Theory of Everything” are ineligible for Spirits (since, respectively, the budget exceeded $20 million and the production was British).

Otherwise, there were few surprises in the Spirits: Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) for actress; J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”) supporting actor; Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) supporting actress; “Ida” as international film; and “CitizenFour” for docu. All are widely expected to repeat at the Oscarcast.

The Spirits were started 30 years ago as an alternative to the studio-dominated Academy Awards. But since then, the two very distinct voting organizations have seen an increasing overlap in the results.

Iñárritu  thanked Fox Searchlight and New Regency for making such a daring feature. “This film would not be this film without Michael Keaton,” said Iñárritu, who also directed and co-wrote the screenplay.

“This is bold cinema. This is a game-changer,” Keaton said in his acceptance, giving extensive thanks to Iñárritu, the cast and crew.

“I think we’d all be remiss if we didn’t take a moment and thank Narcissus right now,” he added, leaving the audience in stitches.

“Birdman” won over “Boyhood,” “Love Is Strange,” “Selma” and “Whiplash.” It took a third Spirit award for cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki.

In accepting her prize, Moore said, “We made this movie in 23 days for $4 million. I brought my own bras and my own food,” Moore said in her acceptance speech. “It was such a privilege to work on this film.”

Since Linklater was not in attendance, Ethan Hawke accepted his trophy, saying “The impossible can always happen.”  Iñárritu won the Directors Guild award two weeks ago over Linklater, underlining that difficulty of predicting the Oscar race for that honor.

Arquette, who took the award for her role as the complex, vulnerable mother in the film, was the first major winner at the awards on Saturday afternoon. The ceremony was held at its traditional location in a white tent on the beach in Santa Monica. It aired live on IFC (instead of during a delayed telecast) in honor of its 30th anniversary.

Along with thanking Linklater, and castmates Hawke, Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater, Arquette singled out IFC for distributing. “Without a distributor, you have nothing,” she said.

“I have been especially blessed,” Simmons said in a low-key acceptance for the award for his portrayal of an abusive music teacher.

The Spirit Awards are voted on by members of Film Independent and require that the films be produced in the U.S. for less than $20 million. “12 Years a Slave” won the Spirit Award and the Oscar best picture trophy a year ago, as did “The Artist” three years ago.

Laura Poitras won for best documentary for “Citizenfour,” her film about whistleblower Edward Snowden. Poitras’ collaborator Glenn Greenwald said whistleblowers like Snowden “deserve not decades in prison, but our collective gratitude.”

Poitras met Snowden while working on a documentary about governmental surveillance in the post-9/11 era. . Snowden ultimately handed over top-secret documents that revealed covert surveillance programs run by the NSA.

Dan Gilroy’s witty script for the dark “Nightcrawler” won the Spirit Award for best screenplay. The crime thriller also won best first feature.

“What I do, I do because I love,” he said in his acceptance, noting that he had a low point in his career a decade ago.

“It felt like writing in that sand as the ocean wiped it away,” he added.

The first-feature trophy went to Gilroy and producers Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak and Jake Gyllenhaal — who starred and produced. “Independent film and everyone here are holdouts against a tsunami of superhero movies,” Gilroy said.

Polish drama “Ida” and director Pawel Pawlikowski won for top international film.

“This is such a strong field so thank you for losing,” Pawlikowski said of the competitors, which included “Leviathan,” “Force Majeure,” “Norte the End of History” and “Under the Skin.” “Ida” and “Leviathan” are up for the Oscar for best foreign film.

Justin Simien was awarded the best first screenplay trophy for “Dear White People.” “I started writing this 10 years ago because I didn’t see myself in the culture,” he said in his acceptance. Other artists who want to see themselves depicted should similarly make their own films.

Tom Cross won the editing category for “Whiplash.”

“Land Ho!” nabbed the John Cassavetes award for top film made for less than $500,000.

The awards were telecast live on IFC. Kristen Bell and Fred Armisen co-hosted. The duo’s comic bits were generally well-received, including an opening video that merged moments from “Birdman” and “Whiplash.”

Bell received major laughs for acknowledging “Whiplash” director Damien Chazelle and quipping, “He made jazz interesting for people who aren’t on heroin.”

Updated List of Winners:

BEST FEATURE
(Award given to the producer. Executive producers are not awarded.)
“Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Producers: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole WINNER
“Boyhood”
Producers: Richard Linklater, Jonathan Sehring, John Sloss, Cathleen Sutherland
“Love Is Strange”
Producers: Lucas Joaquin, Lars Knudsen, Ira Sachs, Jayne Baron Sherman, Jay Van Hoy
“Selma”
Producers: Christian Colson, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Oprah Winfrey
“Whiplash”
Producers: Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, David Lancaster, Michael Litvak

DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle
“Whiplash”
Ava DuVernay
“Selma”
Alejandro G. Iñárritu
“Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Richard Linklater
“Boyhood” WINNER
David Zellner
“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter”

SCREENPLAY
Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski
“Big Eyes”
J.C. Chandor
“A Most Violent Year”
Dan Gilroy
“Nightcrawler” WINNER
Jim Jarmusch
“Only Lovers Left Alive”
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias
“Love Is Strange”

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Producers: Justin Begnaud, Sina Sayyah
“Dear White People”
Director-producer: Justin Simien
Producers: Effie T. Brown, Ann Le, Julia Lebedev, Angel Lopez, Lena Waithe
“Nightcrawler”
Director: Dan Gilroy
Producers: Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak WINNER
“Obvious Child”
Director: Gillian Robespierre
Producer: Elisabeth Holm
“She’s Lost Control”
Director-producer: Anja Marquardt
Producers: Mollye Asher, Kiara C. Jones

FIRST SCREENPLAY
Desiree Akhavan
“Appropriate Behavior”
Sara Colangelo
“Little Accidents”
Justin Lader
“The One I Love”
Anja Marquardt
“She’s Lost Control”
Justin Simien
“Dear White People” WINNER

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000. Award given to the writer, director and producer. Executive producers are not awarded.
“Blue Ruin”
Writer-director: Jeremy Saulnier
Producers: Richard Peete, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani
“It Felt Like Love”
Writer-director-producer: Eliza Hittman
Producers: Shrihari Sathe, Laura Wagner
“Land Ho!”
Writers-directors: Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens
Producers: Christina Jennings, Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy WINNER
“Man From Reno”
Writer-director: Dave Boyle
Writers: Joel Clark, Michael Lerman
Producer: Ko Mori
“Test”
Writer-director-producer: Chris Mason Johnson
Producer: Chris Martin

FEMALE LEAD
Marion Cotillard
“The Immigrant”
Rinko Kikuchi
“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter”
Julianne Moore
“Still Alice” WINNER
Jenny Slate
“Obvious Child”
Tilda Swinton
“Only Lovers Left Alive”

MALE LEAD
André Benjamin
“Jimi: All Is by My Side”
Jake Gyllenhaal
“Nightcrawler”
Michael Keaton
“Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”  WINNER
John Lithgow
“Love Is Strange”
David Oyelowo
“Selma”

SUPPORTING FEMALE
Patricia Arquette
“Boyhood” WINNER
CIO, CTO & Developer Resources
Jessica Chastain
“A Most Violent Year”
Carmen Ejogo
“Selma”
Andrea Suarez Paz
“Stand Clear of the Closing Doors”
Emma Stone
“Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

SUPPORTING MALE
Riz Ahmed
“Nightcrawler”
Ethan Hawke
Boyhood
Alfred Molina
“Love Is Strange”
Edward Norton
“Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
J.K. Simmons
Whiplash WINNER

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Darius Khondji
“The Immigrant”
Emmanuel Lubezki
“Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” WINNER
Sean Porter
“It Felt Like Love”
Lyle Vincent
“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”
Bradford Young
“Selma”

EDITING
Sandra Adair
“Boyhood”
Tom Cross
“Whiplash”  WINNER
John Gilroy
“Nightcrawler”
Ron Patane
“A Most Violent Year”
Adam Wingard
“The Guest”

DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)
“20,000 Days on Earth”
Directors: Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard
Producers: Dan Bowen, James Wilson
“CitizenFour”
Director-producer: Laura Poitras
Producers: Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky WINNER
“Stray Dog”
Director: Debra Granik
Producer: Anne Rosellini
“The Salt of the Earth”
Directors: Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and Wim Wenders
Producer: David Rosier
“Virunga”
Director-producer: Orlando von Einsiedel
Producer: Joanna Natasegara

INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)
“Force Majeure”
(Sweden)
Director: Ruben Östlund
“Ida”
(Poland)
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski WINNER
“Leviathan
(Russia)
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Mommy
(Canada)
Director: Xavier Dolan
Norte, the End of History
(Philippines)
Director: Lav Diaz
Under the Skin
(United Kingdom)
Director: Jonathan Glazer

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – (Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast)
Inherent Vice
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Casting Director: Cassandra Kulukundis
Ensemble Cast: Josh Brolin, Martin Donovan, Jena Malone, Joanna Newsom, Joaquin Phoenix, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short Serena Scott Thomas, Benicio Del Toro, Katherine Waterston, Michael Kenneth Williams, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon

SPECIAL DISTINCTION AWARD
Foxcatcher
Director/Producer: Bennett Miller
Producers: Anthony Bregman, Megan Ellison, Jon Kilik
Writers: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman
Actors: Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum

18th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 18th annual Producers Award, sponsored by Piaget, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget.
Chad Burris
Elisabeth Holm
Chris Ohlson

21st ANNUAL KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 21st annual Someone to Watch Award, sponsored by Kiehl’s Since 1851, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
H.
Directors: Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia
The Retrieval
Director: Chris Eska

20th ANNUAL LENSCRAFTERS TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 20th annual Truer Than Fiction Award, sponsored by LensCrafters is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by LensCrafters.
Approaching the Elephant
Director: Amanda Rose Wilder
Evolution of a Criminal
Director: Darius Clark Monroe
The Kill Team
Director: Dan Krauss
The Last Season
Director: Sara Dosa