I intended to write a bigger recap of both the IFP Spirit Awards and the Razzies, but then I realized, you don't care, do you? Why should you. The Spirits were a bit too safe and predictable this year, and the Razzies deserve a Razzie of their own. Still, I've got these notes, and they'll drive me crazy if I don't put them somewhere, so here are just a few thoughts:
The one good thing about the Razzies? I have to give Halle Berry major props for becoming only the second "winner" in history to attend the ceremony and accept her "award." (Tom Green was the first to do so for Freddy Got Fingered, but you kind of expect that from him anyway.)_I think it's really awesome that she was such a good sport.
With that said, she really shouldn't have won. It wasn't her performance which was so awful, but the role and the movie. I didn't vote for Catwoman, but I don't have a problem with its winning. But Berry winning as well as all the awards given to Bush and Rumsfeld for their "performances" in Fahrenheit 9/11 just show how stupid the Razzies often are. You can have fun, still satirize awards shows and ridicule bad filmmaking without making stupid choices that aren't really "the worst." I know, this in many ways is even a dumb comment – to ridicule the Razzies which are basically a joke anyway. Still, I think that it should have, well, some standards.
Enough with the Razzies, onto the Spirits which I watched live on IFC. I'm sure I was part of a vast audience of two, maybe even three hundred people who actually sat through that broadcast. This show kind of annoys me now because they try to pretend that they're all low-budget and indie, and obviously compared to the Oscars they are, but they then give the show stupid-ass production value and regular awards-show bullshit. The Oscars did a good job satirizing the usual awards show crap, namely useless unfunny banter, while the Spirits continue to perpetuate the lame scripted material. With that said, the one thing the Spirits do (which is also a rip-off of the Oscars, albeit specifically Billy Crystal-hosted shows) which can be quite funny are the song parodies of the "Best Feature" nominees. The songs are written by Jack Lechner, a development exec and author, and this year's were a bit uneven, although I think that may have been due more to the performers than the songs themselves. The songs for Maria Full of Grace (a very funny spoof of the famous Coca Cola "It's the real thing" song, performed by Megan Mullaly), Kinsey (performed by Michael McKeane, Annette O'Toole and Jane Lynch) and Baadasssss! (sung by David Allen Grier to the tune of "That's Entertainment") were great. But the spoofs of Primer and Sideways were bizarre at best and completely lacking at worst. They were performed, respectively, by Michelle Trachtenberg (why?!?) and a manic Tom Arnold.
The Sideways sweep was both expected and unfortunate, for reasons I've already discussed elsewhere. I was a bit surprised it beat Before Sunset in the script category.
As disappointed as I was that The Sea Inside won the "Best Foreign Language Film" Oscar last night, I'm utterly appalled that it also won the "Best Foreign Feature" Spirit Award. Regardless of how good it may be, it was absolutely the worst film in that field of five. In fact, I think that its Spirit win is the worst mistake of any prize given out this weekend. Do yourselves a favor, and when you have the opportunity (because not all have been released theatrically and/or on DVD yet), if you have the opportunity to see Bad Education, Yesterday, Oasis or Red Lights, do so, and soon. I can't believe that anybody who has seen those films could actually like The Sea Inside better, Bardem's brilliant performance not withstanding.
You know what was weird about the show? Generally, like the Oscars, the Spirits award the "Best Feature" prize last preceded by the "Best Director" award. This year, however, Alexander Payne picked-up his director prize before they announced the winner of "Best Lead Actor." Of course, everyone in the tent or anywhere knew that it was going to go to Paul Giamatti and reference would be made to his Oscar "snub," but talk about some cheap reorganization to make the award a more "special" moment. It was almost as conspicuous as it was dumb.
Even though Sideways deserved most of its awards, the win that made me happiest was Mean Creek taking home the "John Cassavetes Award," given to the best feature made for under $500K. If you watched the show, you also got to see the special award given to the ensemble cast of kids. If you watched the show and had seen the film, I imagine you would have noticed the same irony I did in seeing Josh Peck, the lonely but annoying bully in the film, take command of the stage, throw-out one-liners and speak for the entire cast. I'm not sure whether or not his awards show performance was a good or bad thing because he seemed almost just like the kid in the film. I imagine they had decided ahead of time that he would speak – none of the other kids made any move toward the mic – but it was still kind of eerie.
Also if you watched the show, you might be able to answer me this: why does anyone anywhere ever allow Quentin Tarantino to speak in public to a crowd? He's really, really, REALLY awful.
I was happy that Zach Braff won "Best First Feature" for Garden State, but he seems to be putting a lot more value into the award than he should. He mentioned that thanks to this prize, he'll now be able to keep making movies. I have just six words for Zach Braff: Matty Rich, Straight Out of Brooklyn.
You know, I actually like Robin Williams, but again, if you saw the show (and yes, I know probably none of you did!), his appearance was kind of freaky. He announced the "Best Feature" winner, and then when Sideways producer tried to speak, Williams couldn't stop cracking jokes. It got to the point where Williams obviously knew that if he stayed on the stage, he simply wouldn't be able to control himself. He had been holding London's statuette while the producer gave his speech. Finally, he put it down on the stage and said, "I'm going to leave this here and fuck off," before running off the stage and letting London finish his speech.
OK, now I'm really done. No more film awards talk … for at least the next eight months or so!