2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards Winners The Film Independent Spirit Awards are very close to my heart as they're essentially the Oscars for indies and often foretell some of those awards as well. For the past several years many of the films which were nominated for (and eventually won) these prizes went on to dominate the Academy Awards.

Not surprisingly, Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist took home awards in four of the five categories for which it was nominated, including Best Feature, Director, Male Lead (Jean Dujardins), and Cinematography (Gui-omme Shiffman). Michelle Williams was selected as Best Female Lead for her performance in My Week with Marilyn. Best Supporting Female was Shaileen Woodley for The Descendants, which also won Best Screenplay (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash). Christoper Plummer took home the prize for Best Supporting Male for Beginners. The award for Best First Screenplay went to Will Reiser for 50/50, while Margin Call was selected as Best First Feature.
The John Cassavetes Award (given to the best feature made for a budget under $500,000) went to Pariah. Best Foreign Film was A Separation and the award for Best Documentary was given to The Interrupters.The Robert Altman Award (given to one film's director, casting director, and its ensemble cast), announced previously, went to Margin Call. Take Shelter and Drive each had four nominations and were completely shut out, although Take Shelter did pick up the Piaget Producers Award (one of four filmmaker grant awards).

Film Independent is an open enrollment and non-profit membership organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds the audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Anyone passionate about film can become a member, whether you are a filmmaker, film industry leader, or a film lover. In the interest of full disclosure, although I am a member of Film Independent, I did not participate in the nomination process. I did, however, vote for the winners.

The event's 27th Anniversary ceremony was hosted by Seth Rogen on Saturday afternoon, February 25th in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica.

Here are the winners of the 27th Annual Spirit Awards (in BOLD):

Best Screenplay

Joseph Cedar (Footnote)
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Tom McCarthy (Win Win)
Mike Mills (Beginners)
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash (The Descendants)

Best First Screenplay

Mike Cahill and Brit Marling (Another Earth)
J.C. Chandor (Margin Call)
Patrick DeWitt (Terri)
Phil Johnston (Cedar Rapids)
Will Reiser (50/50)

Best Cinematography

Joel Hodge (Bellflower)
Benjamin Kuh-Sulk (The Off Hours)
Darius Kond-Jee (Midnight in Paris)
Gui-omme Shiffman (The Artist)
Jeffrey Waldron (The Dynamiter)

Best Foreign Film (Award given to the director)

A Separation
The Kid With a Bike

Best Documentary (Award given to the director)

An African Selection
Bill Cunningham New York
The Interrupters
The Redemption of General Butt Naked
We Were Here

John Cassavetes Award (Films made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer)

Hello Lonesome
The Dynamiter

Best Supporting Female

Jessica Chastain (Take Shelter)
Angelica Huston (50/50)
Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
Harmony Santana (Gun Hll Road)
Shaileen Woodley (The Descendants)

Best Supporting Male

Albert Brooks (Drive)
John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
John C. Reilly (Cedar Rapids)
Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris)

Best Female Lead

Lauren Ambrose (Think of Me)
Rachel Harris (Natural Selection)
Adepero Oduye (Pariah)
Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)

Best Male Lead

Demian Bichir (A Better Life)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Ryan Gosling (Drive)
Woody Harrelson (Rampart)
Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)

Best First Feature

Another Earth
In The Family
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Natural Selection

Best Director

Mike Mills (Beginners)
Nicholas W Refn (Drive)
Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter)
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Alexander Payne (The Descendants)

Best Feature

Take Shelter
The Artist
The Descendants


Someone to Watch

Simon Arthur, Mark Jackson, and Nicholas Ozeki (Silver Tongues)

Piaget Producers Award

Chad Burris, Sophia Lin, and Josh Mond (Take Shelter)

Truer Than Fiction

Bombay Beach
Hell and Back Again
Where Soldiers Come From

Robert Altman Award (for one film's director, casting director, and ensemble)

Margin Call


Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at Larry411.com

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  • Author: Larry Richman
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