Independent Spirit Awards Have A ‘Precious’ Evening

Heart-tugging drama about an overweight teen sweeps its nominations, possibly indicating some Oscar upsets.

By most accounts, “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker” seem likely to dominate the Oscars on Sunday — but after a clean sweep of its five nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards on Friday (March 5), perhaps things are looking a bit more “Precious.”

The wrenching, heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting drama “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” was a juggernaut at the Film Independent Spirit Awards held in downtown Los Angeles. Other big winners included “Crazy Heart,” Woody Harrelson, “A Serious Man” and even the quirky, endearing documentary “Anvil! The Story of Anvil!”

Hosted by Eddie Izzard, the show honored independent and original filmmaking throughout 2009, and celebrated this year’s 25th anniversary by moving from its traditional day of the week (Saturday before the Oscars) and location (Santa Monica) to downtown’s expansive new L.A. Live complex. In past years, the Spirit Awards have been indicative of Oscar winners, playing out as recently as last year when Penélope Cruz (for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) and the documentary “Man on Wire” won at both shows.

“Precious” won Best Feature, Best Director (Lee Daniels), Best First Screenplay (Geoffrey Fletcher), Best Female Lead (Gabourey Sidibe) and Best Supporting Female (Mo’Nique). Looking out in the audience at her co-star who has spent the last year soaring from obscurity to Oscar-stardom, Mo’Nique said to Sidibe: “You are a special gift to the universe, baby.”

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Jeff Bridges won Best Male Lead for “Crazy Heart,” continuing his seemingly insurmountable awards-season ’09 dominance. The film, about a broken-down country singer seeking salvation and sobriety, also won Best First Feature for rookie director Scott Cooper.

Harrelson took home Best Supporting Male for the war film “The Messenger,” Best Screenplay went to “(500) Days of Summer” team Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, and “An Education” won Best Foreign Film. Then there’s the Coen brothers — always independent-film favorites — whose “A Serious Man” won Best Cinematography and the Robert Altman Award for collaborative effort. The Oscar-nominated Christopher Plummer/ Helen Mirren film “The Last Station” entered Friday night sharing the “Precious” stage with five nominations each, but came away empty-handed.

The 2010 Academy Awards are almost here, and MTV News has it covered every which way — with photos, interviews, live blogs and more. Be sure to visit MTV.com on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET for our live Oscars red-carpet show, where we’ll be talking to everyone from Clooney and Bullock to Kristen and Taylor.

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