Awards Season Wrap Up

With the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday and the Academy Awards on Sunday, a number of Sundance alumni were honored last weekend.

The 2011 Independent Spirit Awards returned to their traditional location on the beach in Santa Monica for Saturday’s ceremony, hosted by Joel McHale. No fewer than six films from the 2010 Sundance Film Festival received a total of seven Spirit Awards. Best Documentary went to Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop, though the enigmatic artist did not accept the award in person. The cast of Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone was honored with two awards: Best Supporting Female Lead went to Dale Dickey and her co-star John Hawkes took home the Best Supporting Male. Stuart Blumberg and Lisa Cholodenko’s script for The Kids Are All Right received Best Screenplay. The Best First Feature Award went to Aaron Schneider for Get Low, and brothers Benny and Josh Safdie received the John Cassavetes Award for Daddy Longlegs.

Sundance alumni were also awarded the remaining seven awards, making the 2011 Spirits a Sundance sweep. An alum of our Feature Film Program’s Labs and the Festival, Darren Aronofsky was recognized as Best Director for Black Swan, which also received the prizes for Best Feature and Best Cinematography (Matthew Libatique). Natalie Portman, whose Sundance credits include Zach Braff’s Garden State, was recognized for her Black Swan performance with the Spirit Award for Best Female Lead. Screenwriters Lab alum Lena Dunham received Best First Screenplay for Tiny Furniture. The Best Foreign Film Award was presented to The King’s Speech, directed by Tom Hopper whose Longford played at the ’07 Sundance Film Festival.

James Franco at a Q&A for the film Howl at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. In addition to appearing in several Sundance films, Franco's work was featured in the New Frontier section of the 2011 Festival. Photo by Calvin Knight.

Co-hosted by James Franco, a member of our Alumni Advisory Board, the Academy Awards brought seven Sundance artists to the stage of the Kodak Theater Sunday night. Danish filmmaker and 2011 Sundance Film Festival juror Susanne Bier was honored with Best Foreign Language Film for In A Better World. Winner of Best Adapted Screenplay for his The Social Network script, Aaron Sorkin’s Sundance connection began when he served as a Creative Advisor for the Feature Film Labs. Cinematographer Wally Pfister (Laurel Canyon, Momento) received the Best Cinematography Oscar for Inception and documentarian Charles Ferguson (No End in Sight) took home Best Documentary for Inside Job. Actor alumni recognized with Oscars included Melissa Leo and Christian Bale, both winning for their respective supporting roles in Sundance alum David O. Russell’s The Fighter, and Natalie Portman who received the Best Female Lead Oscar for her performance in Aronofsky’s Black Swan.

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