2000 Independent Spirit Awards: The Good Stuff

Even people who are as irrationally invested in the Academy Awards as I am have got to admit that the quality standard of nominees could stand to be a lot higher. Indeed, that standard seems especially low in certain of this year's categories, though I'm not convinced that honoring the absolute best in every category has remained the highest function of the Oscars, at least in practice—the Awards seem to function much better as free, complementary advertising for small, struggling pictures like Before Night Falls and Pollock, and for at least separating the wheat from the chad among popular releases. (Let's face it, Gladiator fails totally as art, but it's better than most of its blockbuster competitors.)

Anyway, the Independent Spirit Awards, which usually take place the day before the Oscars and are televised on the Independent Film Channel, have three major legs up on the Academy, even though the glamour quotient tends to be lower and the financial opportunities opened for its winners remains lower. (I wish a picture like George Washington actually saw more business based on its ISP nods, though it's rarely if ever the case.) What the ceremony DOES have to offer are nominees who deserve to be there (no Chocolat fluff-stuff here), a perennially more interesting host than one finds in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (John Waters was a riot this year), and a roomful of people who seem committed to film as a miraculous art. They even seem interested in the Cinematography winners, the First Feature prizes, the honorary grant recipients, and other derbies that an Oscar audience would doze through.

So, in the Independent Spirit of publicizing genuine achievements in high-caliber films, I'm piggy-backing this list of nominees and winners into the Oscar section. (So sue me.) Please note that even nominees I've come down a little hard on, like the very gracious winner Ellen Burstyn, are immeasurably better craftsmen and more watchable in their off moments than Joaquin Phoenix or Kate Hudson are when they're on. Please look at the Supporting Actress race and cry that the Academy's version is so infinitely paltrier. Most of all, please seek out the films.



BEST FILM

Winner: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

– Other Nominees –
Before Night Falls
George Washington
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
Requiem for a Dream


BEST FIRST FEATURE (OVER $500,000)

Winner: You Can Count on Me

– Other Nominees –
Boiler Room
Girlfight
Love & Basketball
The Visit


BEST FEATURE FILM (UNDER $500,000)

Winner: Chuck & Buck

– Other Nominees –
Bunny
Everything Put Together
Groove
Our Song


BEST FEMALE LEAD

Winner: Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dream

– Other Nominees –
Joan Allen, The Contender
Sanaa Lathan, Love & Basketball
Laura Linney, You Can Count on Me
Kelly MacDonald, Two Family House


BEST MALE LEAD

Winner: Javier Bardem, Before Night Falls

– Other Nominees –
Adrien Brody, Restaurant
Billy Crudup, Jesus' Son
Hill Harper, The Visit
Mark Ruffalo, You Can Count on Me


BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

Winner: Zhang Ziyi, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

– Other Nominees –
Pat Carroll, Songcatcher
Jennifer Connelly, Requiem for a Dream
Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock
Lupe Ontiveros, Chuck & Buck


BEST SUPPORTING MALE

Winner: Willem Dafoe, Shadow of the Vampire

– Other Nominees –
Cole Hauser, Tigerland
Gary Oldman, The Contender
Giovanni Ribisi, The Gift
Billy Dee Williams, The Visit


BEST DEBUT PERFORMANCE

Winner: Michelle Rodriguez, Girlfight

– Other Nominees –
The Cast of George Washington
Rory Culkin, You Can Count on Me
Emmy Rossum, Songcatcher
Mike White, Chuck & Buck


BEST SCREENPLAY

Winner: You Can Count on Me, Kenneth Lonergan

– Other Nominees –
Chuck & Buck, Mike White
Love & Sex, Valerie Breiman
Two Family House, Raymond de Filetta
Waking the Dead, Robert Dillon


BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY

Winner: Love & Basketball, Gina Price-Bythewood

– Other Nominees –
Boiler Room, Ben Younger
George Washington, David Gordon Green
Tigerland, Ross Klavan & Michael McGruther
The Visit, Jordan Walker-Pearlman


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Winner: Requiem for a Dream, Matthew Libatique

– Other Nominees –
Before Night Falls, Xavier Pιrez Grobet & Guillermo Rosas
George Washington, Tim Orr
Hamlet, John De Borman
Shadow of the Vampire, Lou Bogue


BEST FOREIGN FILM

Winner: Dancer in the Dark, Lars von Trier, director

– Other Nominees –
In the Mood for Love, Wong Kar-wai, director
The Terrorist, Santosh Sivan, director
A Time for Drunken Horses, Bahman Ghobadi, director
The War Zone, Tim Roth, director


BEST DOCUMENTARY

Winner: Dark Days

– Other Nominees –
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Long Night's Journey into Day
Paragraph 175
Sound and Fury


DirecTV/IFC TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD

Winners: David Shapiro & Laurie Gwen Shapiro, Keep the River on Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale


MOVADO SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD

Winner: Marc Forster, director of Everything Put Together


MOTOROLA PRODUCERS AWARD

Winner: Paul S. Mezey, producer, The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack and Spring Forward


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