The Film Independent Spirit Awards have always been cooler than all the other award shows.
It’s held right on the beach in Santa Monica, has blues man Gary Clark Jr. as its house band and winners are allowed, perhaps even encouraged, to curse. It’s so much more fun than the stuffy Oscars.
Held the day before The Oscars, the Spirit Awards recognizes the best in independent movies.
The undisputed champ of this year’s event was Moonlight. The beautiful coming of age tale won six awards including best feature, best director and best screenplay.
One of the evening’s most emotional moments came when the film’s director, casting director and cast won the prestigious Robert Altman Award for best ensemble cast.
Presenter Kerry Washington could not contain her love of the project and the room erupted into a thunderous standing ovation as the winners took the stage. The moment got even better as the movie’s young stars took the mic and basically stole the show.
The Spirit Awards have also always been much more diverse than the other shows in its recognized films and filmmakers.
This year awards were handed out to female directors, young new Korean-American storytellers and documentaries about the black experience in America.
In another sweet moment, filmmaker Andrew Ahn accepted the John Cassavetes Award for best first feature for Spa Night. In his speech, he stressed the importance of films featuring marginalized communities. He then thanked his parents for understanding that “their gay Korean-American son was still their son.”
As if all that wasn’t enough, the very definition of cool, Samuel L. Jackson closed out the show by presenting best feature to Moonlight.
Moonlight had such an extraordinary night, it’s six wins now holds the record for the most Spirit Award wins in this decade.
The 2017 Spirit Awards are proof that more diversity in filmmaking will only lead to a resurgence in interesting and unique storytelling.