A viewing party hosted by Circle Cinema for this award show brought movie-lovers together.
On Saturday, Feb. 8, Cinema Circle hosted a party for the Independent Spirit Awards. This award event only celebrated the achievements of small, independent movies. Although each one was small in production value, they were not small in strong acting, writing or directing. For this televised event, the Spirit Awards recognized the adversities that filmmakers face when making independent movies and the goals reached by the directors and writers of the films that were nominated.
The party was not like the other venues around Tulsa; rather it was quaint, with just a few people sitting at tables talking to each other. When the time came to watch the event, the audience went silent, but would eagerly discuss who they thought would win during the commercial breaks. It was amazing to see movie lovers come together and bond over films they saw throughout the year and find movies that they had never heard of, but were eager to watch afterwards. Though there was an underlying message of perseverance and talent, it was not pretentious at all. Both the televised event and the party at Circle Cinema were a breath of fresh air. The Spirit Awards celebrated the achievements made in the lower budget movies and raised awareness for the talented women and cultural diversity in the industry that can make movies relatable and interesting.
Throughout the Independent Spirit Awards, there was an ongoing joke about not being backed up by major production companies or producers. As the hostess Aubrey Plaza put it, they were all there to “celebrate the movies that are too important to see.” Other stars poked this concept, such as Tulsa-Dallas native Annie Clark, who goes by her stage name St. Vincent, as she introduced best cinematography. Even Adam Sandler, who was one of the big winners of the night, talked about his Oscar snub as a joke, even though he was grateful for working on “Uncut Gems.”
Aside from the jokes, the Spirit Awards were amazing. The stars being recognized were there because of their craft, not to make money. It didn’t matter whether the production was backed up with a large budget; the nominees were able to find support in their production team, even while lacking funding from major executives. The filmmakers were able to tell the story and convey the emotions needed in the barest way possible and show diversity in cast, culture and environment.
The Safdie Brothers were one of the big winners of the night. They won Best Director for “Uncut Gems,” a pulse pounding movie about a New York jewelry dealer placing the biggest bet of his life. The movie was nominated for five awards, winning three in total. Adam Sandler won for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal in the movie as well. As for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Renée Zellweger won for her work in “Judy,” a biopic about the tragic life of Judy Garland.
“Parasite,” a black-comedy/thriller about classicism in South Korea also won. The movie has become a breakthrough not only for Asian cinema, but for international films. Along with “Parasite,” “The Farewell,” a tale of clashing new world and old world culture, also won two awards: Best Feature and Best Supporting Actress. As each person collected their award, there was elation and happiness in every thank you and every promise to persevere as situations get tougher. The reactions were priceless.
As the afternoon progressed, the onlookers were laughing, clapping, cheering and excitedly talking about it, mainly because it was a jab at the Academy Awards. Because the event focused on the movies, there was more freedom for the filmmakers. They were able to make passion projects and take risks without fear of censorship or making mistakes. It was okay. It was more than okay. It was human. The night was about appreciating film, and the shock and emotion for the winners never died down. Events like these, whether they’re broadcasted at Cinema Circle or on the West Coast, show how something so small can make a difference in the industry and that people are willing to discover and watch the amazing independent movies that slip under the radar. That’s the real celebration.