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Arts and Entertainment

'Birdman' Vs. 'Boyhood' At The Film Independent Spirit Awards

Team 'Birdman' (including Emma Stone, Michael Keaton, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Zach Galifianakis and producers) in the Film Independent press room. (Photo: Christine N. Ziemba)
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The battle between Birdman and Boyhood continued at the Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica on Saturday with bigger 'indie' films picking trophies in the major categories. We're pretty sure some of these names will be read aloud again at the Oscars.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) won Best Feature, Best Male Lead (Michael Keaton) and Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki). Boyhood won Best Director for Richard Linklater and Best Supporting Female for Patricia Arquette. Veteran screenwriter Dan Gilroy picked up Best First Feature and Best Screenplay for Nightcrawler. Damien Chazelle's Whiplash won Best Supporting Male (J.K. Simmons) and Best Editing (Tom Cross). Julianne Moore picked up the Best Female Lead for Still Alice.

Not to be left out, the smaller films also had their moments of glory. Dear White People won Best First Screenplay; Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida (Poland) won Best International Film; and CITIZENFOUR won Best Documentary. Land Ho! by writers/directors Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens, won the John Cassavetes Award, which seems to best represent the spirit of the Spirit Awards since it's for best feature made under $500,000. It bested Man from Reno, Blue Ruin, Test and It Felt Like Love.

Traditionally held the day before the Academy Awards under a beach-adjacent tent, the Spirit Awards is basically a party, albeit one with Kristen Bell and Fred Armisen as hosts and the Silversun Pickups as house band. With the cocktails free-flowing and everyone seemingly in a festive mood, you'll never know what might happen, and Saturday's ceremony was no exception.

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So here are some of our favorite moments/quotes from the 2015 Spirit Awards.


Jared Leto surprised the press room at the Spirit Awards. (Photo: Christine N. Ziemba)
Surprise Guest: Jared Leto, after giving a shoutout to his homies at Poquito Mas on Ventura, popped into the press room and said, "Do you guys miss me this year?"

Best/worst stories: Dan Gilroy called independent films our "holdouts against a tsunami of superhero movies." He also had a horrifying tale of a video stringer who saw a stalled-out car on the 405. The camera guy waited around about 20 minutes. A three-car accident later, he got his shots.

Someone give Justin Simien a TV deal: When he was asked about whether he'd do a follow-up film, he responded, "I don't want to do a sequel, I want to do a television show. It would be called Dear White People."


Patricia Arquette revealed that she gave herself a year when she was 18 to try and make it as an actor. Her other career option? A midwife.
Shout-out for distributors. Patricia Arquette noted the difficulty independent filmmakers have in getting their films out there. "There should be an award for distributor," and thanked IFC Films for their work on Boyhood. "pushing it through and getting it seen."

Best f-bomb ever: Paul Thomas Anderson has a seriously big beef with one of the Spirit Award sponsors (though Foxcatcher's Bennett Miller "apologized" for it later, slamming United instead). In accepting the 8th annual Robert Altman Award (given to one film's director, casting director and ensemble cast, for Inherent Vice), he said, "Don't fly American Airlines, they will fucking lose your luggage."

We love that guy.