Laurelin's Light

Random Thoughts from a Confessed Film Snob

07 March 2006

The Independent Spirit Awards

Film Independent (formerly a part of IFP) holds the Independent Spirit Awards the day before the Oscars each year.

Although this year's ISA nominees were almost indistinguishable for the Academy Award nominees, I want to give my impressions of a few of the winners.

"Brokeback Mountain" won for best picture as well as for Best Director. Since I have not been able to see the film yet, I can't comment on whether the film deserved to be honoured as the best of the year, but I Ang Lee is one of the best directors working in film today and is nice to see him get the recognition which he deserves.

Like the Oscars, the ISA has two screenwriting categories, although instead of being given for original and adapted screenplays they are given for best screenplay overall and best first screenplay. Interestingly, James Futterman won the best screenplay award for "Capote" even though that was his first produced screenplay (best first screenplay went to Duncan Tucker for "Transamerica"). I think that was a great decision. Futterman did an incredible job of translating the book Capote for the screen.

ISA also has an award for best first feature and this year that prize went to "Crash." That actually is an award which I could agree with. I hate that "Crash" won the Best Picture Oscar, since it was not even close to being the best film put out last year, but it is a good solid picture which could mark the start of a promising career. I would probably agree that "Crash" was the best "first feature" put out last year.

Well, I would agree if it was actually true.

You see, back in 1993 Paul Haggis put out a little-seen picture called "Red Hot." It did not make much of an impression, but it was still produced and released. "Red Hot" was Paul Haggis's first feature. If that film was not good enough to win a "best first feature" award, then he missed his chance - or at least he should have. But nevertheless, Film Independent, awarded "Crash"- Haggis's second feature with the best first feature award. Since the award goes to both the director and the producers I thought that maybe this was the first film by the producers. But of the six producers (that's 6 actual credited producers; if you add in co-producers and executive producers the number goes up to 13!) attached to "Crash" only one - actor Don Cheadle - had no prior experience producing features.

I have no major problems with the film "Crash." It is a good picture with solid direction, a great cast and a mediocre script. My real problem is when a film like that wins awards that it should not win and steals the global publicity from more deserving artists. I'm annoyed that "Capote" and "Good Night and Good Luck" lost the Oscar to a film like "Crash," but I'm absolutely livid that "Crash" won an ISA for which it was not even qualified to be nominated.

I can't imagine what the real first time filmmakers felt like losing to an established Hollywood insider. Below is a list of the other nominees, who were qualified to win the award:

"Lackawanna Blues" - Directed by George C. Wolfe
"Me and You and Everyone We Know" - Directed by Miranda July
"Thumbsucker" - Directed by Mike Mills
"Transamerica" - Directed by Duncan Tucker

A complete list of this years' Independent Spirit Award winners can be found at the link below.



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