2014 Independent Spirit Awards: Everything You Need To Know

'12 Years a Slave' took five awards, including Best Picture, but Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto and Cate Blanchett also earned big honors.

While the red-carpet that nominees walked on their way to the beachside tent hosting the Independent Spirit Awards was a deep blue, the weather in Santa Monica for the 29th Annual edition of the awards was all roaring dark surf and slate-grey clouds that, on occasion, opened up with rain.

Still, stars were in attendance — Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Jeremy Renner, Maria Bello, Shailene Woodley and other non-nominees or prior winners. Notable nominees in attendance included “12 Years a Slave” star Lupita Nyong’o (resplendent in gold), Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto.

Once everyone was safely inside and relatively dry, the show kicked. Here’s everything you need to know about the Saturday night’s show.

Dallas Winner’s Club
Jared Leto, an early winner in the Best Supporting Actor category for his work as Rayon in “Dallas Buyer’s Club” noted in his attendance speech that “I’m f–king proud to be part of this group who take risks,” thanking “burritos … Kurt Cobain … every woman who’s been with me, every woman who thinks they’ve been with me and my future wife, Lupita N’yongo” to laughter before ultimately dedicating his award to AIDS victims and “the whole L, G, B and T community.”

Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey was clearly humbled by winning an award for playing AIDS-stricken unlikely activist Ron Woodroof, saing, “[Ron] made enough noise that he moved that file, waiting on the desks of Congress or the FDA — how do we treat AIDS patients going forward? — to the top of the stack …”

Patton Oswalt: The Host with the Most by the Coast
As a lifelong film buff, stand-up comedian and actor (“Big Fan,” “Justified”), Patton Oswalt managed to fill the room with laughter while still deflating the day’s glamor with good humor: “I’m the biggest film buff in this room; I’ve nicknamed my genitals the Criterion Collection.”

Oswalt’s monologue made reference to the bad weather — “Shia LaBeouf was wearing a plastic bag over his head” — and to the fact that, to many, the Indie Spirits are a prelude to tomorrow night’s Oscars: “Ellen DeGeneres is hosting tomorrow; I’m hosting today; we’re in a golden age of Awards Shows hosted by lesbians … and the men who look like them.”

And when not taking shots at Bruce Dern (“Bruce, I want to talk to you later about how ’Nebraska’ came together — the state, not the movie), his best material showed both love for the Indie Spirits and a knowing sense of the field’s cliches: “You know it’s a heavy year for movies when a film called ’All is Lost’ is the least depressing film among the nominees.”

12 Years of Raves
“12 Years a Slave,” which went into the Awards with seven nominations, wound up winning Best Screenplay (for John Ridley) and Cinematography honors for Sean Bobbitt, who made a faux pas, noting “I have to spank, uh, thank director Steve McQueen.”

Lupita Nyong’o also earned Best Supporting Actress for her work in the film. “I want to thank Steve for making a film that matters, and for putting me in it,” she said up on stage. Steve McQueen also earned Best Director honors, and at the end of the show — with momentum on its side — “12 Years a Slave” won Best Picture, beating out “All is Lost,” “Frances Ha,” “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “Nebraska.” “12 Years” ended up taking home five awards out of seven nominations. It’ll be interesting to see if that momentum carries through to tomorrow’s Oscars.

The Indie Underdogs
McConaughey, after winning Best Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club,” even declared, “Alright, alright, alright” before beginning his formal speech, meditating on the topic of the day: “What is an independent film? I know it’s one where as an actor I chose the experience — less zeroes on the paycheck … We’re the underdogs; you don’t know if these films are going to catch on … but when I read the script for ’Dallas Buyer’s Club,’ I knew we had good medicine.”

Cate Blanchett earned Best Actress honors for her work in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” rounding out a nearly-conclusive sweep of the pre-Oscar Best Actress awards; after her win, in the press tent, Blanchett won the hearts of the assembled journalists by waiting until the end of the Best Actor presentation before taking the mic to block the view and address the crowd even as the rain reached new heights on the roof of the tent. “There’s a storm coming,” she said. “If we all die, it’s been a pleasure, and thank you.”

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