I am seriously bummed that “The Florida Project” didn’t take home a single big prize at the Independent Spirit Awards last night.
Bummed enough to question how they do things in what was once truly the “Indie” niche honoring fare not turned out by a major studio.
“Get Out,” which I’d be perfectly happy to see take home the Best Picture Oscar (a long shot, but not the longest) won best director and best feature honors.
It was a Universal (Blumhouse, horror division) release that earned $175 million. There’s nothing “indie” about it. It didn’t cost a huge amount, it had Catherine Keener in a supporting role (Grand Dame of Indie), but still, it had a huge release, a major studio pushing it and a director with box office oomph, and is a genre film in the most popular non-comic-book movie genre there is.
It could collect an honor or two Oscar night as well, yet another reason to not consider it indie. There’s a sense that “This movie deserves SOMETHING,” thanks to its timing, the phenomenon it became, the sharp satire it presented. Yes, and “Wonder Woman” was a movie of its moment (female empowerment, pre-“#Metoo), and “Black Panther” is a movie of its moment. Neither of them particularly Oscar worthy.
That’s the rub. “Get Out” NOT the “best picture” of 2017. Not the best “indie” film (“The Florida Project”), not the best studio picture (“Dunkirk”), not…the…best. It’ll be remembered by horror film fans as the most highbrow entry in their genre in many years, but will anybody else be looking at reruns of this on cable in three years? No.
Jordan Peele best director. Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) got best screenplay honors.
Sam Rockwell took another best supporting actor award away from Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand collected another best actress prize, Allison Janney won here and will win the Oscar too.
Indie Spirit looks an awful lot like Oscar night on a year like this, and that kind of kills the whole idea behind Indie Spirit.
“Mudbound” won the Robert Altman “whole family of the production” prize (Over-rated film, middling director, but sure, why not?), “A Fantastic Woman” took best international (foreign language) feature (good call), “Ingrid Goes West” and “Life and nothing more” — truly INDIE films — took prizes.
A lot of minor prizes at the bottom of the bill also went to true no-budget/no studio backing “Indie” fare.
But seriously, if you’re not going to set yourself apart from the Oscars, honoring films according to your original mission, why bother?
Some of this is the Academy seeing quality in boutique nameplate (A24, Fox Searchlight, Sony Classics) releases, thanks to Indie Spirit Awards of the past. But some of it is this organization refusing to rule out the Jordan Peeles and Martin McDonaghs, the people who line up Margot Robbie to star in their “indie” feature.