Birdman tops Spirit Awards

Birdman tops Spirit Awards

Saturday. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman won over what many consider its stiffest competition.

By (AP)

Published: Mon 23 Feb 2015, 10:01 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:30 PM

Birdman tops Spirit Awards

Birdman spread its wings at the 30th Independent Film Spirit Awards, winning best picture, best actor for Michael Keaton and best cinematography.

The elegantly stitched together backstage comedy came away the big winner at the annual pre-Oscars afternoon celebration of independent film on Saturday. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman won over what many consider its stiffest competition, the 12-years-in-the-making Boyhood, though that film’s maker, Richard Linklater, still took the directing honour.

As Hollywood has increasingly devoted itself to global blockbusters, the Spirit Awards — once a casual indie appetiser to the Oscars — feels more and more like the centre of the industry, or at least a more idealised version of it. Set in a beachside tent in Santa Monica the day before the Academy Awards, the Spirits — variously boasted of growing prominence and of preserving a way of moviemaking often regarded as obsolete at the studios.Birdman tops Spirit Awards

“We are threatened to become a species in extinction,” said Inarritu, the Mexican filmmaker, accepting the best feature award.

But the blur between the Spirit Award and the Oscars, despite their vastly different dress codes, is nearly complete.

Last year’s acting Spirit winners all mirrored the next day’s Oscar winners, and 12 Years a Slave triumphed at both ceremonies.

Keaton, basked in the final glow of a lengthy awards season. “I’ll be in the fetal position, bawling, three months from now, missing it,” said an exuberant Keaton. Before Birdman, the 63-year-old veteran actor had never been nominated for an Oscar.

But even if the Spirit Awards can feel more and more like an Academy Awards dress rehearsal, they still seek to highlight films that often struggle to get made or to find distribution.

“We made this movie in 23 days for $4 million,” said Julianne Moore of the Alzheimer’s disease drama Still Alice.

“I brought my own bras, and my own food. I begged my friend Alec Baldwin to do it,” she said.

The theme of commerce versus art held throughout the Spirit Awards, where winners lamented thinner checks but took pride in more soulful films. When Boyhood star Ethan Hawke accepted the best director award for an absent Linklater, he called the film “a flare gun” to inspire other radical visions.

“What Rick always said: it’s the Wild West out there. This art form is so young,” Hawke said. “There are so many stories to be told and it’s going to be told not by corporate America but by you.” 

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