‘Precious’ dominates movie Spirit Awards

LOS ANGELES — The Harlem drama “Precious” took the best picture prize as it dominated the Spirit Awards, winning four other honors that included trophies for stars Gabourey Sidibe and Mo’Nique.

Jeff Bridges won best actor for the country-music tale “Crazy Heart” during Friday’s event honoring independent film, and Woody Harrelson won supporting actor for the war-on-terror drama “The Messenger.”

Sidibe won best actress for “Precious: Based on the Novel `Push’ by Sapphire,” playing an illiterate teen pulling herself out of an abyss of neglect and abuse. Mo’Nique earned the supporting-actress honor as the girl’s loathsome mother.

All four acting winners are up for the same honors at tonight’s Academy Awards, where Bridges and Mo’Nique are the front-runners and newcomer Sidibe was nominated for her screen debut.

“Gabby, you are truly a special gift to the universe, baby,” Mo’Nique said. “For people to get to know you and be in your presence, they are all honored.”

Though she has dominated her category at earlier film honors, Mo’Nique said backstage she had not prepared a speech for the Oscars, “because I think the universe would say, `You have a lot of nerve.”’

“Precious” swept every category for which it was nominated, including directing honors for Lee Daniels as well as best screenplay by a first-time writer for Geoffrey Fletcher. He and Daniels also are nominated at the Oscars, where “Precious” is among the best-picture contenders.

Sidibe said her mother used to give her two dollars to go to school and that she saved the money to see an independent film, “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” at a theater her bus would drive past.

“Hey, I could do that,” Sidibe said. “To be corny, you could say that’s when my independent spirit was born.”

Accepting the directing award, Daniels wisecracked, “Kathryn Bigelow’s not here tonight. I am,” referring to the maker of “The Hurt Locker,” the favorite to win best director at the Oscars.

Another best-picture Oscar nominee, Lone Scherfig’s British drama “An Education,” was chosen as best foreign film.

Bridges, the best-actor favorite at the Oscars for his role as a boozy country star trying to turn his life around, performed one of the tunes he sings in “Crazy Heart” at the Spirit Awards earlier in the show before accepting his acting prize. “Crazy Heart” also won for best debut film for first-time director Scott Cooper.

“He never directed a high school play before, but he did a great job,” said “Crazy Heart” co-star Robert Duvall, who joined Cooper on stage.

Bridges thanked Duvall, a producer on the film who got the project rolling after reading the script.

“We couldn’t have done this without you, man,” Bridges told Duvall. “Thank you for the gig.”

Borrowing a line from the Dude, the laidback bowler he played in “The Big Lebowski,” Bridges held his Spirit Award, www.spirit awards.com, aloft and told his wife in the audience, “This is really going to tie the room together, baby.”

Harrelson won for his role as a soldier breaking news to next of kin that a loved one has died in action. He had kind words for the other nominees, who included fellow Oscar contender Christopher Plummer for the Leo Tolstoy drama “The Last Station.”

“You’re all better,” Harrelson told his competitors. “Actually, I don’t know how you distinguish one performance from another. It’s never felt right to me to declare a winner. We’re all just actors and lucky to be doing this. Of course, now it feels a little more right.”

Joel and Ethan Coen’s “A Serious Man,” following the troubles of a Jewish professor whose life is unraveling, won the Robert Altman Award presented for a movie in the spirit of the ensemble films of the late director. “A Serious Man” also earned the cinematography award for Roger Deakins.

Other winners:

  • Screenplay: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for the comedy “(500) Days of Summer.”

    Documentary: “Anvil! The Story of Anvil,” directed by Sacha Gervasi.

    John Cassavetes Award for a film made for less than $500,000: “Humpday,” directed by Lynn Shelton.

    The Iraq War drama “The Hurt Locker,” tied with blockbuster “Avatar” for the Oscar lead with nine nominations each, is absent from this season’s Spirit Awards. “The Hurt Locker” premiered at film festivals in 2008 and was eligible for the Spirit Awards a year ago, when it earned nominations for actors Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie.

    The Spirit Awards normally are handed out at an afternoon ceremony along the beach in Santa Monica the day before the Oscars. With the event marking its 25th year, organizers made it a Friday night bash in downtown Los Angeles.

    Presented by the cinema group Film Independent, the Spirit Awards honor movies that cost less than $20 million to make, with a significant part of their budget originating outside the Hollywood studio system. Other criteria for nominations include originality and provocative subject matter.

    Talk to us

  • More in Local News

    This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
    A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

    MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

    Craig Hess (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)
    Sultan’s new police chief has 22 years in law enforcement

    Craig Hess was sworn in Sep. 14. The Long Island-born cop was a first-responder on 9/11. He also served as Gold Bar police chief.

    Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
    Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

    The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

    Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
    New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

    Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

    Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
    Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

    Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

    Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
    Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

    After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

    A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
    Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

    Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

    Man charged with dealing fentanyl pills that led to Arlington overdose

    Prosecutors charged Robin Clariday with controlled substance homicide. He allegedly handed Bradley Herron the pills outside a hotel.

    Seattle woman identified in fatal Highway 99 crash

    Elena Mroczek, 74, was killed Sunday in a crash involving a 19-year-old.

    A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
    Rival gang members charged with killing Everett boy, 15, at bus stop

    The two suspects are accused of premeditated first-degree murder in the death of Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15.

    Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
    Witnesses contradict gunman’s account of killing Monroe prison officer

    Dylan Picard, 22, was driving on South Machias Road when Dan Spaeth approached his car to slow it down to avoid hitting a deer.

    The Safe Sleep Cheat Sheet shows what's safe for infants and what should be avoided. Photo provided by the Snohomish County Health Department.
    Infants’ deaths from unsafe sleeping far outpace other accidents

    Nineteen infants died in two years in Snohomish County, when zero died from drownings or car crashes. Officials sounded the alarm this week.