Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars have gathered in a marquee on Santa Monica beach to honour the makes of the year’s best independent American films.
The annual event neatly comes a day before the Oscars, so the biggest names in the movie business are sure to be in town; the sponsors are keen to have as many famous faces on the red carpet as possible to get more value for money.
Being a good year for films at the lower end of the budget scale, many of the Academy Award nominees were also hopeful of taking away a Spirit Award – three of the four acting trophies went to Oscar-nominees.
The biggest winner of the day was the psychological ballet drama, Black Swan, which picked up four awards. As well as taking Best Picture and Best Director for Darren Aronofsky, it won Best Cinematography and Best Actress for Oscar-winner Natalie Portman.
The Best Actor award went to James Franco for 127 Hours. He’s also nominated in the same category at the Academy Awards.
Both of the supporting actor honours went to the dark drama Winter’s Bone – with Dale Dickey and John Hawkes – also Oscar-nominated – collecting trophies at the casual, afternoon ceremony.
One of the most widely nominated films, The Kids Are All Right, came away with only the screenplay award, for its director Lisa Cholodenko and her writing partner Stuart Blumberg.
The Best First Screenplay went to Lena Dunham, for Tiny Furniture and the director Aaron Schneider and his producers collected the Best First Feature prize for Get Low – with a stellar cast that included Robert Duvall – and Bill Murray, who missed out on the supporting actor Spirit.
Daddy Longlegs won the John Cassavetes Award for the best feature made for less than half a million dollars.
The Best Documentary Prize went to Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop, which is the most talked about of this year’s Oscar nominations in its category. The award was collected on behalf of the secretive subversive artist by the main protagonist of the film – his protege Thierry Guetta, who now goes by his artist’s moniker, Mr Brainwash.
The most talked about of this year’s Oscar nominations in all categories, The King’s Speech, was nominated only in the Foreign Language category at the Spirits. It won. “I never thought I’d ever win a Foreign Language award,” the British director joked.