Indie Race

Film Independent Spirit Awards title card

Last Saturday morning the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards ceremony was held, airing that night on IFC. Seth Rogen hosted and past host John Waters served as Voice of God.

I started this writeup a week ago, but it petered out because no video was online yet and life distractions were abundant.

Rogen smartly referenced Brett Ratner’s Oscars controversy by asking if anyone was really surprised that Ratner showed himself to be a “horrible bigot”. It was a double zing — he’s a creep and we should’ve figured — as well as a singularly nifty way of pointing out that the (rightful) disapproval of Ratner’s usage of a gay slur had a whiff of the double standard about it, since bad behavior in Hollywoodland tends to be tolerated among the successful until it becomes news that puts authority in a difficult position.

He went on to say that Ratner would’ve been better off producing the Grammys than the Oscars, since “you could literally beat the $#!% out of a nominee and they ask you to perform twice” — a reference to the Chris Brown / Rihanna situation, which took a turn for the WTF recently when news came that the two were collaborating on a new track.

I also liked Rogen’s line that Drive “made Jews look so scary, I thought Mel Gibson directed it” and his comment about the star of Martha Marcy May Marlene: “I learned there’s a whole other Olsen this year. Where were they hiding her? She’s the best one!”

Drive really confounded me, I must say. Most of the performances were quite good — Albert Brooks’ Spirit-nominated, Oscar-spurned turn as a dramatic heavy was widely celebrated — but the weird Young Don Corleone affect in Ryan Gosling’s voice was in full bloom. The film, which is like Nicholas Winding Refn’s take on the most tragic Michael Mann urban fable possible, is not only violent but almost relentlessly downbeat, although the inventive car-chase sequence that opens the movie is an instant classic. And the largely synth-pop soundtrack, while it lines up thematically with the neon pink opening credits and the main character’s ridiculous satin jacket, provides in College’s “A Real Hero” one awful, endlessly repetitive song that I could not get out of my head.

But I digress; just thought I’d share that since I never actually reviewed Drive and had a strong reaction it.

Along with Drive and Martha Marcy May Marlene, the big 2012 Spirit nominees included 50/50, The Artist, Margin Call, Take Shelter, Beginners, The Descendants, and Midnight in Paris. You can find a complete list of nominees and winners at both the IFC website and the Spirit Awards website [update: no longer]. As in other recent years, with most of the big film companies having indie-distribution arms that finance small films or pick up completed work at festivals and with even relatively niche distributors effectively promoting their wares to members of the Academy come awards season, there was considerable overlap with the Oscars slate. The Artist’s Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture wins last Sunday night were all repeats from Saturday. I still appreciate Film Independent’s efforts, though, especially when it comes to unique categories like Best First Screenplay, the John Cassavetes Award for a feature with a budget of under $500,000, and the Robert Altman Award for ensemble work.

The IFC and Spirit Awards websites also both have Seth Rogen’s monologue up now. Only IFC currently has video for the single best thing about the show, however, that being Garfunkel and Oates’ musical tribute to the nominated films.

Who else taped and fast-forwarded through half of the Spirit Awards this year?

Related: Pre-Oscars Post Crystalized Silent Treatment

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