[Updated 2/27/17]

The most filmmaker-friendly beach party has ended, and a new crop of FILM INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARD winners have been anointed. Nick Kroll and John Mulaney hosted the 2017 ceremony, honoring the best films, filmmakers, and performances of the year, all taking place in a tent by the Santa Monica beach (and airing live on IFC). SAGindie was there, and our National Director Darrien Gipson has a rundown of the event below. (Scroll down for the full list of winners.)


What can I say about the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards? A fancy party in a big tent on the beach of Santa Monica – what’s not to love? For SAGindie, it starts about four weeks prior to the party, when we invite actors to come party with us (or have actors submitted to us). We have a simple rule at SAGindie: Do you look like you would be fun to sit with for four hours? If you are typically sullen or always look like you smell something bad, you will NOT be invited to sit at our table. But if you look like someone who is nice and happy, and you have an interesting career of films/TV shows that we appreciate… then we want to hang with you. We pride ourselves on putting together a good table; this year was no different. We had people that we already know and love and others we were just dying to meet. And everyone met our expectations. Our table is just across from the batch of tables that are reserved for actual nominees, so the seats were well situated. And everyone eventually walks by us, so we get to talk with everyone.

Highlights: First, the show itself. Hosting the Spirit Awards (or the Gotham Awards, for that matter) is a fairly thankless job. Full of “industry,” most people are more interested in schmoozing than listening to the host tell jokes. But lately, the Spirit Awards have picked hosts that command attention because they are really funny. Nick Kroll and John Mulaney had some funny bits and were generally fearless. We laughed a lot – and it wasn’t ALL because of the copious amounts of champagne we consumed.

Also, the SAGindie table was amazing. We had Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black), Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures), Yolonda Ross (The Get Down), Mark O’Brien (Arrival), Sam Richardson (Veep), Aisha Tyler (ok, like 8,000 jobs), Kiersey Clemons (Dope – the movie and her whole vibe) and Emmett Hughes (Axis). Eliza and I? Our job was to make sure everyone was happy. How did we do it? Well, again… champagne. In fact, we sent Aisha to other tables to confiscate champagne that was being – shall we say – UNDERutilized at other tables. Everyone was so cool and a good time was had by all.

And, they read the winners from all of the right envelopes, so there’s that.


2017 Spirit Award Nominees & Winners:


Best Feature

Best First Feature

John Cassavetes Award (for best film made for under $500,000)

Best Director

Best Male Lead

Best Female Lead

Best Supporting Male

Best Supporting Female

Best Screenplay

Best First Screenplay

Best Cinematography

Best Editing

Best International Feature

Best Documentary

Robert Altman Award (for best ensemble casting)

Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award

Piaget Producers Award

LensCrafters Truer Than Fiction Award



If you’re an independent filmmaker or know of an independent film-related topic we should write about, email blogadmin@sagindie.org for consideration.

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