'The Farewell' Earns Best Feature at Independent Spirit Awards

2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards  - Show

SANTA MONICA (CNS) - A dark horse winner emerged during the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards ceremony where “The Farewell” was named the best feature film, beating out more heavily touted competitors.

The film edged out “Uncut Gems,” starring Adam Sandler, Julia Fox and Idina Menzel, along with “A Hidden Life,” “Clemency” and “Marriage Story” to take the top prize Saturday.

During the ceremony, “Marriage Story,” director Noah Baumbach's critically acclaimed divorce drama featuring Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern and Alan Alda, received Film Independent's Robert Altman Award, an honor bestowed on a film's director, casting director and ensemble.

Sandler, who was by some accounts snubbed for an Oscar nod despite critical acclaim, earned best male lead for his portrayal of a New York jeweler and gambler in “Uncut Gems.” Robert Pattinson was also nominated in the category for his work as a 1890s lighthouse keeper in “The Lighthouse.” Also nominated were Chris Galust for “Give Me Liberty,” Kelvin Harrison Jr. for “Luce” and Matthias Schoenaerts in “The Mustang.”

Renee Zellweger -- who has swept most major awards and is the favorite to win an Oscar Sunday for her portrayal of Judy Garland in “Judy” -- won for best female lead, beating out Karen Allen for “Colewell,” Hong Chau for “Driveways,” Elisabeth Moss for “Her Smell,” Mary Kay Place for “Diane” and Alfre Woodard for “Clemency.”

Pattinson's co-star Willem Dafoe won an award for his supporting work in “The Lighthouse,” while Shia LeBeouf and Noah Jupe both received nods for “Honey Boy.” Also nominated in the supporting male category were Jonathan Majors for “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” and Wendell Pierce for “Burning Cane.”

Jennifer Lopez was up for best supporting female for “Hustlers,” a category that also featured past Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, nominated for her work in “Luce.” Also vying for the prize were Taylor Russell for “Waves” and Lauren “Lolo” Spencer for “Give Me Liberty.” The award was ultimately given to Zhao Shuzhen for “The Farewell.”

Aubrey Plaza hosted the Spirit Awards ceremony from inside a tent just north of the Santa Monica Pier.

2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards  - Press Room

Here is a complete list of winners:

BEST FEATURE (Award given to the producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)

“The Farewell,” Producers: Anita Gou, Daniele Melia, Andrew Miano, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Lulu Wang,Chris Weitz, Jane Zheng

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)

“Booksmart,” Director: Olivia Wilde; Producers: Chelsea Barnard, David Distenfeld, Jessica Elbaum, Megan Ellison, Katie Silberman

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (For best feature made under $500,000): “Give Me Liberty,” Writer/Director/Producer: Kirill Mikhanovsky; Writer/Producer: Alice Austen; Producers: Val Abel, Wally Hall, Michael Manasseri, George Rush, Sergey Shtern


Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, “Uncut Gems”


Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”


Fredrica Bailey, Stefon Bristol, “See You Yesterday”


Jarin Blaschke, “The Lighthouse”


Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie, “Uncut Gems”


Renee Zellweger, “Judy”


Adam Sandler, “Uncut Gems”


Zhao Shuzhen, “The Farewell”


Willem Dafoe, “The Lighthouse”

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD - Given to one film's director, casting director and ensemble cast

“Marriage Story,” Director: Noah Baumbach; Casting Directors: Douglas Aibel, Francine Maisler; Ensemble Cast: Alan Alda, Laura Dern, Adam Driver, Julie Hagerty, Scarlett Johansson, Ray Liotta, Azhy Robertson, Merritt Wever

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)

“American Factory,” Director/Producer: Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert; Producers: Julie Parker Benello, Jeff Reichert

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)

“Parasite,” South Korea, Director: Bong Joon-Ho

BONNIE AWARD - Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo joined American Airlines in 1973 at age 24, becoming the first female pilot to fly for a major U.S. airline. In her honor, the third Bonnie Award will recognize a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant, sponsored by American Airlines. Kelly Reichardt

PRODUCERS AWARD - The 23rd annual Producers Award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Mollye Asher

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD - The 26th annual Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Rashaad Ernesto Green, Director of “Premature”

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD - The 25th annual Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Nadia Shihab, Director of “Jaddoland”

Photo: Getty Images

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