It was a game of will they or won’t they—bring up politics, that is. And they did.
But 32nd Film Independent Spirit Awards hosts and comedians John Mulaney and Nick Kroll also kept the award show light and funny on Saturday afternoon in Santa Monica.
“These films, to quote the president, are sad. End quote,” joked Mulaney, referencing the emotionally charged films, American Honey, Chronic, Jackie, Manchester by the Sea, and Moonlight, nominated for Best Feature (honoring films with budgets under $20 million).
Moonlight—made with $1.5 million with one camera in 25 days —was the big winner this year with six wins, including the Robert Altman Award, given to director and writer Barry Jenkins (who also received Best Director and Best Screenplay with writer Tarell Alvin McCraney), the casting director and ensemble cast, including Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, Jharrel Jerome, André Holland, Alex Hibbert and Janelle Monáe.
“Some of you might take the opportunity today to make a political speech,” later said Mulaney. “But bear in mind, we are on IFC, and these are the Spirit Awards. So, in terms of impact, you could give your speech directly into camera, or you could whisper it to yourself in the bathroom.”
“Speaking of bathrooms,” interjected Kroll, “President Trump rescinded rights for transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice this week. Because transgendered children have had it too good for too long.”
There were mentions of the presidency and current state of the country here and there, but no one spoke out as boldly as Casey Affleck, when he accepted Best Male Lead for Manchester by the Sea.
“Now I’m going to do something that I know I shouldn’t do,” he said. “I should just whisper it in the bathroom, and I have whispered it to myself in the bathroom.”
He paused. “But I feel like increasingly my kids don’t listen to me unless it’s something I say on TV,” he added. "The policies of this administration are abhorrent, and they won't last.”
Best Female Lead went to Isabelle Huppert for Elle; Best Supporting Male to Ben Foster for Hell or High Water; Best Supporting Female to Molly Shannon for Other People.
“In this moment, I truly feel like a superstar,” said Shannon, imitating her character Mary Katherine Gallagher from the 1999 cult favorite Superstar.
When actress Freida Pinto presented Best International Film, which included Under the Shadow by Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari (the award went to Germany’s Maren Ade for Toni Erdmann), she noted: “Thankfully, all these films made it past customs.”
“I think it’s great that people want to use their speech, their winning platform to make these political speeches,” said British actor David Harewood, nominated for Best Male Lead for Free In Deed. “America had a very strange election. The result is what it is, but not everyone is very happy about it. Not everybody in the country seems very happy. There’s a majority of people out there who feel their voices aren’t being heard, that the country is going in the wrong direction. People are worried and have every right to speak out.”
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