Oscar Warm-Up At The Spirit Awards

In past years, the Independent Spirit Awards have provided a welcome counterbalance to the glitz and hype of the Oscars, recognising the quality low budget films so often overlooked by the bigger awards.  But as this year’s ceremony progressed, it increasingly resembled a warm-up act for tomorrow night’s Academy Awards.

With a number of independent films Oscar-nominated this year, it was only to be expected that some of the contenders would walk away with trophies.  But it was more than just some.  The Artist scooped no less than four big ones – Best Feature, Best Director, Best Male Lead and Best Cinematography. Christopher Plummer’s performance in Beginners continued to dominate the Best Supporting Actor category and Alexander Payne won Best Screenplay for The Descendants, which he is also likely to repeat tomorrow night.

Thankfully, there was some variation from the likely Academy line-up, with Best Female Lead going to Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn.  Probably the youngest nominee at the event, 20 year old Shailene Woodley, beat off the likes of Jessica Chastain in Take Shelter and Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs to win Best Supporting Female for The Descendants, her first major film role.

Margin Call, J C Chandor’s directorial debut tracing financial meltdown, came away with two awards – Best First Feature (against the fancied Martha, Marcy May, Marlene) and the Robert Altman Award for Best Ensemble.  With a cast including names such as Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany and Stanley Tucci, it was hardly likely to do otherwise, but it was nonetheless a worthy winner.

And so, at long last, we turn our attention to the Oscars.  After its quadruple whammy at the Spirit Awards, it’s hard to imagine anything standing in the way of The Artist for Best Film and Best Director at the very least.  The bookies stopped taking bets on Christopher Plummer several days ago and The Artist must have joined him by now!

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