Sideways, the product of an art house division of a major studio, picked up a whole mess of honors tonight at the Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, CA. Three of its four principal players took home awards: Paul Giamatti was named Best Lead Actor, whilst Virginia Madsen and Thomas Haden Church saw victory for their supporting performances. Sideways also earned trophies for Best Director (Alexander Payne), Best Screenplay (Payne and Jim Taylor) and Best Feature. Thanks to its sucess, Fox Searchlight picked up a total of seven awards in all - more than twice the tally of any other outfit.
Meanwhile, Maria Full of Grace earned two Spirit awards, including trophies for Best Actress (Oscar nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno) and Best First Screenplay (Joshua Marston, who also directed). Zach Braff's Garden State was named Best First Feature, and the rockers-in-therapy flick Metallica: Some Kind of Monster was selected Best Documentary. The Best Foriegn Film prize went to Alejandro Amenabar's The Sea Inside.
The cast of Mean Creek were given a Special Distinction Award, because, according to the Independent Feature Project, who host the awards, "the nominating committee was struck by these young actors who turned in performances so uniformly unselfish and so intricately in tune with each other that it became impossible to single any one of them out from their extraordinary achievement together." The cast includes Rory Culkin, Ryan Kelley, Scott Mechlowicz, Trevor Morgan, Josh Peck, and Carly Schroeder.
The Independent Spirit Awards are held every year the day before the Academy Awards, from a tent on the beach in Santa Monica. Bravo will broadcast an edited version of the ceremony tonight at 9:00 PM, Pacific and Eastern Standard Time. For a full list of this year's winners, go to www.ifp.org.