The day before the Academy handed out lots of little naked men (see who took one home), Film Independent presented its Independent Spirit Awards in California. You won't see movies like Dreamgirls or directors like Scorsese at the Spirit Awards; these are for the little guys, the filmmakers without big budgets and big studios behind them.
Crowd and award favorite was the endearing Little Miss Sunshine. The family road trip comedy took home four honors, including Best Feature, Best Director, Best First Screenplay, and Best Supporting Male. Which incidentally turned out to be a fairly decent prediction of how Oscar night would go for the gang in the VW van. In another predictive moment, the Spirit for Best Foreign Language Film went to The Lives of Others, which turned out to upset Pan's Labyrinth Sunday night.
Gettling lots of Spirit love while being virtually ignored by the Academy was a personal favorite, Half Nelson. Co-stars Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps were named Best Male and Female Leads, respectively (pictured). Rounding out the four acting awards, Frances McDormand won Best Supporting Female honors for her role as a wealthy suburbanite in Friends With Money.
The Independent Spirit Awards don't mess with honors for sound and costuming and the like; instead, they've got the John Cassavetes Award for films made under $500,000. QuinceaÃ±era won that one. And Thank You For Smoking scribe (and director) Jason Reitman won for his screenplay.
Read the entire list of winners here. How do you think the Spirit Award winners compare to the Oscars? I tend to put more merit in these than those from an Academy interested mainly in patting itself on the back, but maybe I'm in the minority there.