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Spirit Award Winners

February 21, 2009


Finally the night you have been waiting for! No, not the Oscars, the much more entertaining Spirit Awards.

Indiewire amongst many others are at the awards covering but for the rest of us, we get to catch live blogs from Karina Longworth at Spout, read the Spirit Tweets and listen to ourselves chat on Facebook which Variety, Indiewire and others have posted onto their sites. Oh yeah, and they are on IFC.

The show kicked off with Ben Stiller joking about an intro for Steve Coogan. He was delightful.

Steve Coogan began with a joke on shared experience of not having seen most of the films. (sadly true for most of America). The bit was general Steve Coogan, managing to slam most of the competition with classic British bits. Then he blended a bit of Robin Williams and Billy Crystal hosting style with some dick jokes and song movie pitches.

Michelle Monaghan (Oxonians just saw her in Trucker at OFF 09)  presented the first award of the evening. The expected winner James Franco took the award. Next up was Owen Wilson’s video plug supporting indie film – making me wonder, will we see any more of the Stiller gang cause of Coogan?

Ben Kingsley and one of the Full House twins gave out the next award. The very young but talented Dustin Lance Black gave a moving speech.

Charlie Kaufman gives the funniest acceptance speech for First Feature and acknowledges difficulty pronouncing the title, especially after presenter Aaron Eckhart screwed it up. Ha.

Supporting female reminded me that Rosie Perez is amazing and I too often forget that, but of course Penelope Cruz got it for her amazing performance. However, Debra Winger should have tied for Rachel Getting Married, even if I am bias cause she is fabulous.

THE FUNNIEST part of the night was Taraji Henson performing a mock song for Ballast. Whoever sees it first, get me the video link!!

Next up for videos was Drew Barrymore, with tongue ring. Love her.

Although I wanted The Signal to win, the “In Search of a Midnight Kiss”( Writer/Director: Alex Holdridge; Producers: Seth Caplan, Scoot McNairy) guys were endearing.

Then Melissa Leo gave a proper thank you for her acceptance for Best Actress in Frozen River, reminding everyone about independent film fest, “Hooray Independent.”

My favorite win of the night was for the super talented Lynn Shelton. The second I saw her movie, My Effortless Brilliance last year I knew she was one of the most talented directors on the indie circuit right now. I am now reworking my SXSW schedule to make sure I can get in line early for Humpday cause I have a feeling it is going to be pretty difficult to see it now.

And as soon as I find the YouTube of Mickey Rourke’s acceptance, I will get it up here..It is the funniest thing I’ve seen in awhile.

For the full list of winners (in bold) along with the nominees for the 2009 Spirit Awards see below:

Feature (Award given to the producer):

  • “Ballast” – Producers: Lance Hammer, Nina Parikh
  • Frozen River” – Producers: Chip Hourihan, Heather Rae
  • Rachel Getting Married” – Producers: Jonathan Demme, Neda Armin, Marc Platt
  • Wendy and Lucy” – Producers: Larry Fessenden, Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani
  • The Wrestler” – Producers: Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin


  • Ramin Bahrani, “Chop Shop”
  • Jonathan Demme, “Rachel Getting Married
  • Lance Hammer, “Ballast”
  • Courtney Hunt, “Frozen River
  • Tom McCarthy, “The Visitor

First Feature (Award given to the director and producer):

  • “Afterschool” – Director: Antonio Campos, Producers: Sean Durkin, Josh Mond
  • “Medicine for Melancholy” – Director: Barry Jenkins, Producer: Justin Barber
  • “Sangre De Mi Sangre” – Director: Christopher Zalla, Producers: Per Melita, Benjamin Odell
  • “Sleep Dealer” – Director: Alex Rivera, Producer: Anthony Bregman
  • Synecdoche, New York – Director: Charlie Kaufman, Producers: Anthony Bregman, Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, Sidney Kimmel

Male Lead:

  • Javier Bardem, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor
  • Sean Penn, “Milk
  • Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker
  • Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler

Female Lead:

  • Summer Bishil, “Towelhead
  • Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married
  • Melissa Leo, “Frozen River
  • Tarra Riggs, “Ballast”
  • Michelle Williams, “Wendy and Lucy

Supporting Male:

  • James Franco, “Milk
  • Anthony Mackie, “The Hurt Locker
  • Charlie McDermott, “Frozen River
  • Jim Myron Ross, “Ballast”
  • Haaz Sleiman, “The Visitor

Supporting Female:

  • Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Rosemarie DeWitt, “Rachel Getting Married
  • Rosie Perez, “The Take
  • Misty Upham, “Frozen River
  • Debra Winger, “Rachel Getting Married


  • Woody Allen, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, “Sugar”
  • Charlie Kaufman, “Synecdoche, New York
  • Howard A. Rodman, “Savage Grace
  • Christopher Zalla, “Sangre De Mi Sangre”

First Screenplay:

  • Dustin Lance Black, “Milk
  • Lance Hammer, “Ballast”
  • Courtney Hunt, “Frozen River
  • Jonathan Levine, “The Wackness
  • Jenny Lumet, “Rachel Getting Married


  • Maryse Alberti, “The Wrestler
  • Lol Crawley, “Ballast”
  • James Laxton, “Medicine for Melancholy”
  • Harris Savides, “Milk
  • Michael Simmonds, “Chop Shop”

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

  • “In Search of a Midnight Kiss” – Writer/Director: Alex Holdridge; Producers: Seth Caplan, Scoot McNairy
  • “Prince of Broadway” – Director: Sean Baker; Writers: Sean Baker, Darren Dean; Producer: Darren Dean
  • The Signal” – Writer/Directors: David Bruckner, Dan Bush, Jacob Gentry; Producers: Jacob Gentry, Alexander Motlagh
  • “Take Out” – Writer/Director/Producers: Sean Baker, Shih-Ching Tsou
  • Turn the River” – Writer/Director: Chris Eigeman; Producer: Ami Armstrong

Documentary (Award given to the director):

  • “The Betrayal” – Director: Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
  • “Encounters at the End of the World” – Director: Werner Herzog
  • “Man on Wire” – Director: James Marsh
  • “The Order of Myths” – Director: Margaret Brown
  • “Up the Yangtze” – Director: Yung Chang

Foreign Film:

  • The Class” (France) – Director: Laurent Cantet
  • “Gomorra” (Italy) – Director: Matteo Garrone
  • “Hunger” (UK/Ireland) – Director: Steve McQueen
  • “Secret of the Grain” (France) – Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
  • “Silent Light” (Mexico/France/Netherlands/Germany) – Director: Carlos Reygadas

IFC/Acura Someone to Watch Award:

  • Barry Jenkins, director of “Medicine for Melancholy”
  • Nina Paley, director of “Sita Sings the Blues”
  • Lynn Shelton, director of “My Effortless Brilliance”

Truer Than Fiction Award:

  • Margaret Brown, director of “The Order of Myths”
  • Sacha Gervasi, director of “Anvil! The Story of Anvil”
  • Darius Marder, director of “Loot

Piaget Producers Award:

  • Lars Knudsen and Jay Van Hoy, producers of “Treeless Mountain” and “I’ll Come Running”
  • Jason Orans, producer of “Goodbye Solo” and “Year of the Fish”
  • Heather Rae, producer of “Frozen River

Robert Altman Award (Given to one film’s director, casting director, and its ensemble cast): “Synecdoche, New York
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Casting Director: Jeanne McCarthy
Ensemble Cast: Hope Davis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Tom Noonan, Emily Watson, Dianne Wiest and Michelle Williams

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