The Indie Spirit Awards: Ben Stiller hangs with porn stars, Jeff Bridges channels The Dude, and more

Ben-Stiller-Spirit-pornImage Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesLast night, some of the biggest names in independent filmmaking gathered in downtown L.A. to celebrate everything that makes Hollywood break out in hives: feisty, gritty, against-the-grain movies that don’t always have the benefit of shimmering star power to lure butts into multiplex seats. That said, there were plenty of celebs on hand at the 25th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards, including Ben Stiller, who joked winningly about the strangeness of being named Honorary Chair of the event since the last time he made an indie was the mid-90s. Then he invited some porn stars on stage with him, which was sorta weird and distracting. But whatevs, that’s the independent spirit, I guess. That and liberal, un-bleeped swearing. You won’t hear any of that this Sunday night on ABC, beyotches!

I watched the event (which was hosted by Eddie Izzard) on IFC from the comfort of my living room last night, forcing my eyeballs to stay open till the wee hour of … 1 a.m. (It’s been a long week, friends. I’m usually a tad hardier.) As my colleague Dave Karger posted earlier this weekend on his Oscar Watch blog, the night belonged to Precious, which went five-for-five. The always adorable Gabby Sidibe charmed the room with her acceptance speech for Best Female Lead (yay!) and gets my vote for best speech. At an event that can get kinda long-winded (no orchestra to play winners off the stage here!), Sidibe was succinct and sweet. “It’s got wings, yay!” she said, admiring her trophy. Jeff Bridges also deserves a shout-out for brilliantly channeling The Dude. Holding up his statuette while thanking his wife, he exclaimed, “This is really going to tie the room together, baby!” Just wait till you get your accoutrement from the Academy tomorrow night, Jeff.

For what must have been the 8 millionth time this season, Bridges performed “Fallin’ & Flyin'” from Crazy Heart, but the real performance moment was Anvil’s “Metal on Metal.” If you’ve seen Anvil!: The Story of Anvil (and if you haven’t, get thee to Netflix and put it at the top of your queue), then you know just how much these Canadian heavy-metalers long to play live. And boy did lead singer Steve “Lips” Kudlow look overjoyed to be there. Only bummer here was that, from my couch-potato vantage point, the audience seemed oddly sedate. Oh well, at least Lips and bandmate Robb Reiner got to accompany Anvil! director Sacha Gervasi when he accepted Best Documentary from presenters Maria Bello and Lenny Kravitz who, by the way, easily win the Hottest Presenters Award in my book.

The most touching moment of the night belonged not to the numerous teary-eyed, grateful winners. No, it came when Roger Ebert got a standing ovation. (The beloved critic and his wife Chaz’s Truer Than Fiction Award went to documentary filmmakers Bill Ross and Turner Ross for 45365.) To see all those people cheer Ebert, who can no longer speak due to his fight with cancer, moved me to tears.

That’s my take on the night. What did you think? (If you missed it last night, don’t fret. IFC is rerunning the show all weekend.)

Comments (20 total) Add your comment
  • IrmaCMD

    Great show…except for Eddie Izzard…was he sedated? Terrible jokes and a really poor opening, he was the worst host. More so than even Sarah Silverman a few years back! But Gabby Sidibe’s win was the best – she’s SO great – I know she won’t win tomorrow night, but I hope we’ll see a lot more of her in the years to come – gracious and classy!

    • Siskel

      It’s pretty self-serving of Roger Ebert to buy his way into this event for $25,000. Charity should be done anonymously out of the goodness of your heart…not for thunderous applause and sympathy.

  • annie

    I hope they put her acceptance speech on youtube – no cable here. :(

    • Zach


  • Topanga

    Yes the best moment of the night was the ovation for Roger Ebert and his big smile! But oh Eddie Izzard…Eddie what happened? You used to be the best, but last night was just torturous.

    • NetGirl

      Don’t jump on me – but since his sugery- Ebert basically always has a big smile on his face – its simply the way his face looks.

      • Jena

        Very true. It’s like The Joker.

  • Vikki Sixx

    Eddie Izzard didn’t do a bad job…it just wasn’t up to his usual par….Anvil was so amazing, though. What wasn’t amazing was how after Jeff Bridges performed certain people in the audience looked bored and didn’t even bother to clap. Even if they don’t like the music…they should have some respect.

  • gerritv

    Now that the 25th anniversary is over, I hope that next year the Spirit Awards return to Saturday on the Beach.

    The beach shows always seemed to be a bit a anarchy when compared to other award shows. They were light and irreverent and always entertaining and enjoyable. Last night’s show was as ponderous as the Oscars. Also, I missed the comical musical introductions to the Best Feature nominees – always the highlight of the Spirit Awards. Acceptance speeches in the past were more kernels of light telling you more about the life and insight of the artist as opposed to most of the boilerplate traditional acceptance speeches (with more time to thank everyone under the sun) that we got last night.

    Missy, that could be why it was difficult keeping your eyes open last night.

    • kim in kentucky

      Totally agree! I miss the beach and the songs!! Still remember the Brokeback Mountain song — “on top of brokeback mountain – all cover with sheep …..”

  • Joe C

    Good for ‘Precious’! I wonder if it will win anything else besides Monique for Best Supporting???? We’ll see….

  • Joe C

    I should have added ‘will it win anything besides Best Supporting Actress’ tomorrow at the Oscars! My bad….

  • Michael

    This usually beats the hell out of the snoozy Oscars, but this year it was bad enough to give Oscar a shot. You’d think Eddie Izzard would be a natural for this sort of thing, but he was just awful.

  • wombat

    i totally love eddie izzard — but this was not a good performance, dawg. the show was a little weird not being on the beach anymore — but despite maggie gyllenhaal’s bizarre boob showing dress, i enjoyed the show!

    • Michael

      MG’s bizarre boob showing dress was about the only thing about the show I DID enjoy.

  • LG

    Why didn’t it also air on TNT or whatever the other network usually is? Was bummed that I couldn’t watch it!

  • Crystal

    They weren’t on the beach?!!! Where were they in downtown?? How odd.

  • Eve

    ANVIL ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sophia

    I loved loved loved Eddie Izzard. The audience was just too American and box minded. This also showed at the end of the night with the pron stars. That was tasteless and showed no respect for the Independent Spirit Awards. I am elated though at the fact Precious won all nominated categories as well as Anvil’s performance and win. I hope Eddie is host at more events in the future and Ben Stiller stays at home with his “friends”.

    • Jena

      Precious is horrible torture.

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