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Inside The 2018 Independent Spirit Awards

The Film Independent Spirit Awards know how to throw a party. Jupiter, the God of Rain made an appearance early Saturday morning but left before the party started, so guests at the annual pre-show cocktail were treated to sunshine as the best in independent film was honored at the 2018 Independent Spirit Awards on Santa Monica Beach.

I’ve just come back from London where temperatures were a blip above freezing, so what’s typically considered a cold LA day, I found “warm.”

Marcus Dixon from Gold Derby and I were table partners so we worked the pre-show cocktail rounds, catching up with Allison Janney who would go on to win Best Supporting Actress for her role in I, Tonya. The actress admitted she was a bit nervous joking that she might prepare a speech in emoji for Oscar night.

Dee Rees, Saoirse Ronan mingled with guests before being ushered in. Ronan later said the Spirit Awards was one of her favorite awards show on the circuit, and what’s not to love? “Last year, everyone famous died! This year, everyone famous wishes they were dead!” With an introduction like that from returning hosts Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, this awards show is one of the funniest and happiest of them all.

If you missed the hilarious monologue, watch as Kroll and Mulaney take on Spacey, Weinstein, and Brett Ratner.

Frances McDormand sat front and center. McDormand took home the prize for Best Actress and was clearly glad we’re coming to the end of the season. In her speech, McDormand who also won the prize for most comfortable shoes by wearing fluffy slippers said, “I continue to be amazed you let me get to the microphone. What are you crazy?” She added, “What I know about today, I get to swear. Do you know how hard it’s been not to swear over the last couple of months? Because this awards convention goes on for fucking ever.”

During the breaks, Greta Gerwig and Allison Janney schmoozed. Wrinkle In Time and Honorary Chair, Ava DuVernay caught up with director Spike Lee before she presented the inaugural Bonnie Award. The Bonnie Award is presented to an Outstanding Female Filmmaker and this year’s recipient was Chloe Zhao.

Mudbound received the Robert Altman Award and director Dee Rees and the cast of Mudbound took to the stage to accept the award. Rees delivered the most powerful speech of the night. “Cinema lies in absorbing electrifying performances by committed actors that make audiences feel, that make them think, make them observe themselves and world around them in a more expansive way… We know that cinema lies in the thoughtful and narrative composition and choreography of subject, movement, color, and light like Rachel Morrison’s compelling, sculptural, humanistic photography that elevates reality into a visceral, highly textured symphony of feeling. We–radical thinkers that we are, know that cinema has nothing to do with a smartphone screen, a television screen, nor a 52 foot high IMAX screen. We know that it has everything to do with the complicated art of montage, like Mako Kamitsuna’s literary and perfectly fluid interweaving of seven distinct character’s voices and worldview into one single sweeping, and cohesive narrative.” Watch the full speech Dee Rees delivered below:

The big winner of the night was Get Out. Director Jordan Peele said, “It’s clear we are in the beginning of a renaissance right now where stories from the outsider, stories from the people in this room, the same stories that independent filmmakers have been telling for years are being honored and recognized and celebrated.” Backstage, Peele said he was enjoying the moment. “This movie was made for this show.” He gave a shout out to his AD on the film Gerard DiNardi, “He helped me how to figure out how to do this movie.” Peele was asked about a sequel and he answered, “We are not closed off to a sequel.” He agreed, “This movie is not the movie that you make a sequel just to make a sequel, it transcends the business that it did. If I can get a movie that feels worthy to do it, then we’ll do it.”

Watch Peele and the cast of Get Out backstage

We caught up with I, Tonya editor Tatiana S. Riegel who won Best Editing and was holding her Spirit Award that had been engraved at the engraving station. Riegel said there were so many memorable moments for her this season from Toronto to the Oscar nomination, and of course the win at the Spirit Awards. Riegel who has been working in Berlin took a break from her current project to come over for the final hurdle in the season. She joked that she had a “one in five chance of winning.”

Salma Hayek who was nominated for Beatriz at Dinner confirmed that the Time’s Up movement would play a part in the Oscar ceremony, and Robert Pattinson said he was excited about his next project and “excited to be in a horror movie by Robert Eggers.”

And so, the 2018 Spirit Awards were handed out as the sun deemed to beam down upon the festivities. Today two dozen small golden men stand silently, waiting to go home with the final winners as we at last wrap another awards season in Hollywood.