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'Get Out' tops the Independent Spirit Awards — could an Oscar upset be next?

Kevin Polowy
Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
Actor/writer/director Jordan Peele, center, accepts the award for best feature for “Get Out” at the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., on the eve of the Oscars. (AFP Photo/Tommaso Boddi)

The love was spread around at the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards, with critical darlings like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Lady Bird; Call Me by Your Name; Mudbound, I, Tonya; and The Big Sick all getting some time to shine Saturday afternoon on the sands of Santa Monica.

It was Get Out, though — Jordan Peele’s blockbuster social thriller — that reigned supreme, winning Best Feature and Best Director. (Given the Blumhouse-produced, Universal-distributed horror film’s $176 million haul, it’s easy to forget that the film was made for a mere $4 million).

This could possibly spell the start of special weekend for Get Out. The last four films to win Best Film at the Indie Spirit Awards on Saturday (Moonlight, Spotlight, Birdman, and 12 Years a Slave) have all gone on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday.

The film remains an underdog to The Shape of Water and Three Billboards, both Fox Searchlight releases that were Spirit-eligible but left out of the top race. Billboards did triumph in two of the acting races, with Oscar favorites Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell winning Best Female Lead and Best Supporting Male, respectively. Guillermo del Toro’s Shape, which narrowly qualified for consideration with a budget of $19.4 million, didn’t receive a single nomination.

The famously wry and attention-shy McDormand provided one of the ceremony’s most memorable speeches, staying true to her character of Mildred Hayes by dropping f-bombs left and right. “I continue to be amazed that you let me get in front of a microphone,” said McDormand, whose wins so far this year include the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and Critics Choice Awards. The actress enjoyed the fact that the IFC-telecast show, unlike the Oscars, did not discourage profanity. “Do you know how hard it’s been not to swear? This awards convention goes on for f***ing ever.”

The day’s other big winners included Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name) for Best Male Lead and Allison Janney (I, Tonya) for Best Supporting Female. While Janney is expected to win tomorrow, Chalamet enjoyed his time in the spotlight (“I’m trying to really savor this moment; I don’t know if this kind of thing’s ever gonna happen again”), knowing the Oscar will likely go to the heavily favored Gary Oldman, whose $30 million Darkest Hour was ineligible for the Spirit Awards.

Hosted for a second consecutive year by comedy duo/BFFs Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, the show got off to an entertaining start as the comics took sharp digs at some of the #MeToo movement’s most high-profile accused, including Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, and Kevin Spacey. Mulaney remembered a time Weinstein told him the crossover success he’d have producing TV’s Project Runway would be reflected on his gravestone. “Now, it’s not gonna say Project Runway; it’s going to say, ‘XXL Unmarked Grave,'” Mulaney cracked.

Hosts John Mulaney, left, and Nick Kroll speak at the 33rd Film Independent Spirit Awards on March 3, 2018, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The typically spirited (and spirit-filled) ceremony, which is held annually under a giant tent near the Santa Monica pier, was forecasted to be an atypically rain-drenched affair. But the sun was in full force during the show’s pre-party, where nominees who spent the last few months knocking elbows at Los Angeles awards events mingled one more time before Sunday’s big show. Directors Ava DuVernay and Sean Baker (a nominee for The Florida Project) shot the breeze feet from the likes of Peele and Lady Bird writer-director Greta Gerwig.

Gerwig pulled one of the day’s biggest upsets when she unseated Oscar favorite Peele in the Best Screenplay category. “Thank you to my parents for watching all the plays I put on in the living room,” Gerwig said. Two of their competitors for tomorrow’s big show — Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon — won for Best First Screenplay for their rom-com sleeper The Big Sick. “My father never cheated on my mother; that’s something we made up for the movie,” Gordon said, before Nanjiani quickly interjected: “That we know of.”

Mudbound writer-director Dee Rees delivered one of the day’s most stirring speeches while she and her cast accepted the honorary Robert Altman Award for best ensemble. Rees passionately and eloquently spoke of the power of cinema — and the power of Mudbound — in what most present interpreted as a reaction to the film’s lack of major award recognition because it played on small screens across the country as a Netflix release.

The surprise hit Get Out has been burning up awards season. While accepting Best Director, presented by Spike Lee, Peele admitted he burned a few while writing the film. “I realized there were people who were locked up for smoking less weed than I was smoking writing the movie,” he said.

Fittingly, it was the current box office king — Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman — who soon thereafter presented Get Out with the day’s top honors. During a post-awards interview in the press tent, Peele discussed the possibility of a sequel. “If I can get a story that feels worthy as a follow-up we’ll do it, if not, then absolutely not.”

In the meantime, we’ll be watching to see whether Get Out repeats at the Oscars.

Full list of 2018 Independent Spirit Awards winners:

Best Feature:
Get Out 

Best Director: 
Jordan Peele, Get Out

Best Screenplay:
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird

Best First Feature:
Ingrid Goes West 

Best First Screenplay:
Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick

 John Cassavetes Award (For best feature made under $500,000):
Life and Nothing More  

Best Supporting Female:
Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Best Supporting Male:
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri     

Best Female Lead:
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Male Lead:
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name

Robert Altman Award:
Mudbound                                 

Best Cinematography:
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Call Me by Your Name

Best Editing:
Tatiana S. Riegel, I, Tonya

Best International Film:
A Fantastic Woman  

Best Documentary:
Faces Places


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