2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards: ‘The Farewell,’ ‘Uncut Gems’ are the top winners

February 8, 2020

by Carla Hay

A24’s Chinese American drama “The Farewell” and A24’s crime thriller “Uncut Gems” were the top winners at the 35th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards, which took place in Santa Monica, California, on February 8, 2020. IFC had a live telecast of the show, which was hosted by Aubrey Plaza. The Spirit Awards honor independently financed films that were released in U.S. cinemas the previous year.

“The Farewell” won the prizes for Best Feature and Best Supporting Female (Zhao Shuzhen). “Uncut Gems” won the most awards (three) of the ceremony: Best Male Lead (Adam Sandler); Best Director (for brother Bennie and Josh Safdie); and Best Editing (for Ronald Bronstein and Benny Safdie).

Meanwhile, Netflix’s divorce drama “Marriage Story” won Best Screenplay (for Noah Baumbach) and the Robert Altman Award (a non-competitive prize), which is given to the film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast.  A24’s noir horror film “The Lighthouse” won two prizes: Best Supporting Male (for Willem Dafoe) and Best Cinematography (for Jarin Blaschke). Other winners included Renée Zellweger of “Judy” (Best Female Lead); and Annapurna’s comedy “Booksmart” (Best First Feature).

Here is the complete list of winners and nominees of the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards:

*=winner

BEST FEATURE

(Award given to the producer)

A Hidden Life
Producers: Elisabeth Bentley, Dario Bergesio, Grant Hill, Josh Jeter

Clemency
Producers: Timur Bekbosunov, Julian Cautherley, Bronwyn Cornelius, Peter Wong

The Farewell*
Producers: Anita Gou, Daniele Melia, Andrew Miano, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Lulu Wang, Chris Weitz, Jane Zheng

Marriage Story
Producers: Noah Baumbach, David Heyman

Uncut Gems
Producers: Eli Bush, Sebastian Bear McClard, Scott Rudin

BEST FIRST FEATURE

(Award given to the director and producer)

Booksmart*
Director: Olivia Wilde
Producers: Chelsea Barnard, David Distenfeld, Jessica Elbaum, Megan Ellison, Katie Silberman

The Climb
Director: Michael Angelo Covino
Producers: Noah Lang, Kyle Marvin

Diane
Director: Kent Jones
Producers: Luca Borghese, Ben Howe, Caroline Kaplan, Oren Moverman

The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Director/Producer: Joe Talbot
Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Khaliah Neal, Christina Oh

The Mustang
Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
Producer: Ilan Goldman

See You Yesterday
Director: Stefon Bristol
Producer: Spike Lee

BEST DIRECTOR
Robert Eggers, The Lighthouse
Alma Har’el, Honey Boy
Julius Onah, Luce
Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie, Uncut Gems*
Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers

BEST SCREENPLAY
Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story*
Jason Begue, Shawn Snyder, To Dust
Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, Uncut Gems
Chinonye Chukwu, Clemency
Tarell Alvin McCraney, High Flying Bird

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Fredrica Bailey, Stefon Bristol, See You Yesterday*
Hannah Bos, Paul Thureen, Driveways
Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy, Blow the Man Down
Jocelyn Deboer, Dawn Luebbe, Greener Grass
James Montague, Craig W. Sanger, The Vast of Night

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD

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

Burning Cane
Writer/Director/Producer: Phillip Youmans
Producers: Ojo Akinlana, Jakob Johnson, Karen Kaia Livers, Mose Mayer,
Wendell Pierce, Isaac Web, Cassandra Youmans

Colewell
Writer/Director: Tom Quinn
Producers: Joshua Blum, Alexandra Byer, Craig Shilowich, Matthew Thurm

Give Me Liberty*
Writer/Director/Producer: Kirill Mikhanovsky
Writer/Producer: Alice Austen
Producers: Val Abel, Wally Hall, Michael Manasseri, George Rush, Sergey
Shtern

Premature
Writer/Director/Producer: Rashaad Ernesto Green
Writer: Zora Howard
Producers: Darren Dean, Joy Ganes

Wild Nights With Emily
Writer/Director/Producer: Madeleine Olnek
Producers: Anna Margarita Albelo, Casper Andreas, Max Rifkind-Barron

BEST MALE LEAD
Chris Galust, Give Me Liberty
Kelvin Harrison Jr., Luce
Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse
Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems*
Matthias Schoenaerts, The Mustang

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Karen Allen, Colewell
Hong Chau, Driveways
Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell
Mary Kay Place, Diane
Renée Zellweger, Judy*

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse*
Noah Jupe, Honey Boy
Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy
Jonathan Majors, The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Wendell Pierce, Burning Cane

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
Taylor Russell, Waves
Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell*
Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, Give Me Liberty
Octavia Spencer, Luce

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Todd Banhazl, Hustlers
Jarin Blaschke, The Lighthouse*
Natasha Braier, Honey Boy
Chananun Chotrungroj, The Third Wife
Pawel Pogorzelski, Midsommer

BEST EDITING
Julie Béziau, The Third Wife
Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems*
Tyler L. Cook, Sword of Trust
Louise Ford, The Lighthouse
Kirill Mikhanovsky, Give Me Liberty

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM

Invisible Life (Brazil)
Director: Karim Aïnouz

Les Misérables (France)
Director: Ladj Ly

Parasite (South Korea)*
Director: Bong Joon Ho

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France)
Director: Céline Sciamma

Retablo (Peru)
Director: Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio L.

The Souvenir (United Kingdom)
Director: Joanna Hogg

BEST DOCUMENTARY

(Award given to the director and producer)

American Factory*
Director/Producers: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert
Producers: Julia Parker Benello, Jeff Reichert

Apollo 11
Director/Producer: Todd Douglas Miller
Producers: Evan Krauss, Thomas Baxley Peterson

For Sama
Director: Edward Watts
Director/Producer: Waad al-Kateab

Honeyland
Director: Tamara Kotevska
Director/Producer: Ljubo Stefanov
Producer: Atanas Georgiev

Island of the Hungry Ghosts
Director/Producer: Gabrielle Brady
Producers: Gizem Acarla, Samm Haillay, Alex Kelly, Alexander Wadouh

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD

(Award given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast)

Marriage Story
Director: Noah Baumbach
Casting Directors: Douglas Aibel, Francine Maisler
Ensemble Cast: Alan Alda, Laura Dern, Adam Driver, Julie Hagerty, Scarlett Johansson, Ray Liotta, Azhy Robertson, Merritt Wever

BONNIE AWARD SPONSORED BY AMERICAN AIRLINES

(Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo joined American Airlines in 1973 at age 24, becoming the first female pilot to fly for a major U.S. airline. In her honor, the 3rd annual Bonnie Award will recognize a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant, sponsored by American Airlines.)

Marielle Heller
Kelly Reichardt*
Lulu Wang

PRODUCERS AWARD

(The Producers Award, now in its 23rd year, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.)

Mollye Asher*
Krista Parris
Ryan Zacarias

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD

(The Someone to Watch Award, now in its 26th year, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.)

Premature*
Director: Rashaad Ernesto Green

The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Director: Joe Talbot

The Third Wife
Director: Ash Mayfair

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD

(The Truer Than Fiction Award, now in its 25th year, is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.)

17 Blocks
Director: Davy Rothbart

América
Directors: Erick Stoll, Chase Whiteside

Black Mother
Director: Khalik Allah

Jaddoland*
Director: Nadia Shihab