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Spirits, Razzies offer Hollywood lessons in diversity, humility



Proving one segment of Hollywood doesn't have a diversity issue, the Film Independent Spirit Awards gave three of its four acting prizes Saturday to performers of color, including a transgender woman.

Take that, #OscarSoWhite.

While the Academy Awards co-favorite Spotlight garnered the most awards with five, the Spirits also showed Oscar what he's missing this year. Idris Elba being snubbed by the academy in the best supporting actor race was a factor in rekindling the debate about Hollywood's lack of diversity, specifically the proven demographics of Oscar voters as old, white and male.

One day before the Oscars, Elba picked up the Spirit Award for Beasts of No Nation, a Netflix production snubbed entirely by the academy. Later, Elba's young co-star Abraham Attah was named best actor, in his film debut. Attah, a 15-year-old Ghana native plays a child forced to join the army of an unnamed African nation. Elba plays the tyrannical commander of these underage puppets of civil war.

The fact that Beasts of No Nation came from Netflix and used an unconventional day-and-date release on the streaming site is considered a factor in the academy snubbing the movie.

Adding more diverse flavor to the mix, Mya Taylor of Tangerine - another movie the academy overlooked - was named best supporting actress. Taylor portrayed a transgender prostitute in Los Angeles, on an overnight quest to locate her friend's pimp. Sean Baker's Christmas Eve dramedy was filmed on iPhones, suggesting another area in which the academy needs to catch up.

Tom McCarthy's true-life journalism drama Spotlight was the afternoon's big winner, picking up five Spirits including best feature, director and editing. McCarthy's screenplay co-written with Josh Singer was voted 2015's best. Spotlight was previously announced as winner of the Robert Altman Award for ensemble acting.

The Spirits annually pay tribute to independent films, budgeted at $20 million or less. In recent years Spirit Award results have often mirrored the Oscars' choices, making Spotlight's dominance an interesting late twist in an already jumbled best picure race. At the same time, other big-budget Oscar contenders including The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Big Short weren't eligible for Spirits consideration.

A complete list of Spirit Award winners can be found at the end of this blog post.

Later Saturday, the 36th Golden Raspberry Awards - better known as the Razzies - paid their annual disrespect to Hollywood's worst movies and performances. As expected, Fifty Shades of Grey dominated the evening, picking up five Razzies including worst picture, a dishonor shared with the Fantastic Four reboot.

Fifty Shades of Grey stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan were named 2015's worst actress and actor, and the year's worst screen combo. Kelly Marcel's screenplay adapted from E.L. James' novel was also convicted of being the year's worst.

Fantastic Four, a $120 million flop co-starring Lecanto High graduate Miles Teller, also earned the worst director prize for Josh Trank, who infamously trashed his own movie a few days before it debuted. A rare Marvel movie mistake, Fantastic Four was also named worst remake/rip-off/sequel.

Academy Award winner (and nominee tonight) Eddie Redmayne was named worst supporting actor for the sci-fi misfire Jupiter Ascending, while Kaley Cuoco got the worst supporting actress Razzie for Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip and The Wedding Ringer.

On a more complimentary note, the Razzies' all-time champion Sylvester Stallone won the group's first-ever Razzie Redeemer Award, given to a previously dissed star for a worthier-than-usual achievement. Stallone's is reprising his iconic boxer Rocky Balboa in Creed, earning a best supporting actor Oscar nomination.


2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards results:

Best feature: Spotlight

Best female lead: Brie Larson, Room

Best male lead: Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation

Best director: Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Best supporting female: Mya Taylor, Tangerine

Best international film: Son of Saul

Best screenplay: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlight

John Cassavetes Award (given to the best feature made for a budget under $500,000): Krisha

Best cinematography: Ed Lachman, Carol

Robert Altman Award: Spotlight

Best first feature: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Best documentary: The Look of Silence

Best first screenplay: Emma Donoghue, Room

Best supporting male: Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation

Best editing: Tom McArdle, Spotlight

[Last modified: Sunday, February 28, 2016 12:33pm]


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