Last 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.)