MOONLIGHT Sweeps Independent Spirit Awards

A day before its fate is discovered as one of nine Academy Award Best Picture contenders, director Barry Jenkins’s coming of age story Moonlight swept last night’s Independent Spirit Awards, taking home awards for six categories it was nominated in including Best Picture, Best Directing, Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing and Ensemble Cast.

The film’s win gives it a certain amount of momentum going into tonight’s Academy Awards, where it is nominated in eight categories, including the Best Picture, Directing, Screenplay, Cinematography and Editing categories it won last night. The last three Spirit Awards best-feature winners — Spotlight, Birdman and 12 Years A Slave — all went on to win best picture at the Oscars.

Currently this year’s Oscar-frontrunner has been director Damien Chazelle’s musical La La Land, which received a record-tying 14 nominations. In addition to topping many critics’ and critic organizations’ year-end “Best of the Year” lists, the film has been tearing up the award season landscape. It made a clean sweep, clinching all seven nominations at the Golden Globes. It also took the Producers Guild and Directors Guild top prize, honors often looked at as Oscar winner indicators as well. La La Land was not nominated for an Independent Spirit Award as its $30 million budget exceeded the $20 million budget maximum set for in the rules.

The winners in the acting categories were Casey Affleck, Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea, Isabelle Huppert, Best Actreess for Elle, Ben Foster, Best Supporting Actor for Hell Or High Water and Molly Shannon, Best Supporting Actress for Other People.

Robert Eggers was a double winner for his historical horror film The Witch, set in 17th century Massachusetts, taking the awards for Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay. Ezra Edelman’s nearly eight-hour examination of fame, racism and one of the most infamous murder trials of the last century, O.J.: Made In America, won the Best Documentary while Maren Ade’s German comedy Toni Erdmann won Best Foreign Feature.

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About Rich Drees 7034 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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