Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan dominated the Film Independent Spirit Awards, which celebrate the best in independent film with a beachside awards ceremony in Santa Monica the day before the Oscars. Aronofsky’s ballet-focused psychological thriller, which recently crossed the $100-million mark at the box office, won Best Feature, Best Director, Best Cinematographer and Best Actress for Natalie Portman.
With Oscar heavyweights The Social Network and The King’s Speech ruled out due to budget and relegated to the foreign film category, respectively, the Spirit Awards were a chance for other Academy Awards hopefuls to shine. Best Actor nominee — and Oscar co-host — James Franco took home the Spirit Award for Best Male Lead in 127 Hours, while Oscar nominee John Hawkes won Best Supporting Male for Winter’s Bone. The King’s Speech still managed to sneak in, winning the Best Foreign Film award.
Given the studio muscle behind Black Swan, some have questioned whether it was fair to place it in competition against other indies, even though the film qualified because its production budget was below $20 million.
“It’s a very hard word to describe and people have been trying to figure it out for years,” Aronofsky told reporters after the ceremony, defending his film. “Basically when the filmmakers are in control of the movie, as opposed to the people paying for them, I think that’s independence.”
Below is a list of the 2011 Film Independent Spirit Award winners.
Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
Best Male Lead
James Franco, “127 Hours”
Best Female Lead
Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Best Supporting Male
John Hawkes, “Winter’s Bone”
Best Supporting Female
Dale Dickey, “Winter’s Bone”
Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, “the Kids Are All Right”
“Exit Through the Gift Shop”
Matthew Libatique, “Black Swan”
Best Foreign Film
“The King’s Speech”
Best First Feature
Best First Screenplay
Lena Dunham, “Tiny Furniture”
John Cassavetes Award (Best feature with a budget under $500,000)
Robert Altman Award (ensemble cast)