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February 21, 2009

Oscar, Indies. Indies, Oscar


The champagne's flowing, one of the Olsen twins (never can keep them straight) is smoking, and Sheryl Crow and Laura Dern are chatting and giggling.

Mickey Rourke, who's spray-tanned to within an inch of his life, is thrilling the bicyclists, joggers, homeless guys and other onlookers outside the big tent just by walking by before the Spirit Awards on Saturday afternoon.

Gloomy weather be damned. Nobody hanging around the area seems to care that Santa Monica isn't its usual 72 degrees and sunny because the stars have come out for this annual celebration of micro-budgeted indie movies that takes place on high-priced beachfront real estate.

Film Independent's Spirit Awards, also known as the anti-Oscars, are by their very nature, location and temperament the flip side of the awards granddad, with a mandate to honor movies made for less than $20 million, often with newcomers, up-and-comers or complete unknowns. But the kudos skated right up to the line this year, choosing some films that didn't have maxed-out credit cards behind them and or no-name performers in the top billing.

The two events have plenty in common, though, year after year, like a lot of "Juno" love at both last February.

So we'll cut to the chase for what results we saw today that we might see again tomorrow:

"Man on Wire" won for best documentary -- it's our pick for the Oscar, though "Trouble the Water" could be the lucky one.

Penelope Cruz for best supporting actress in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." Unless Viola Davis does a runaround, we think Cruz will hit again at the Oscars.

Dustin Lance Black for best first screenplay for "Milk." He's been our pick for quite some time in the Oscar category (though there's no "first" screenplay award -- he's tossed in with a lot of veterans). If the Academy didn't see fit to name "WALL-E" one of its five best pictures, we're not sure that its screenwriters can win here, though they are nominated and favored by a lot of critics and Oscarologists.

What we don't think we'll see:

Mickey Rourke, who gave today's show some of its only real juice in an "f"-bomb-filled speech dedicating his award to his recently deceased 18-year-old Chihuahua, Loki, for best actor. We still say it's going to be Sean Penn for "Milk."

Melissa Leo, who took every opportunity on Saturday to give shout-outs to the indie world from whence she came, for best actress. Not that she wasn't great. She was. But we're still betting on Kate Winslet.

"The Class" for best foreign film, since the blitzkrieg that is Israel's "Waltz With Bashir" so far this awards season may have one more day to go.

See the full results here, which basically show the Spirits embracing "The Wrestler" with three awards; choosing Woody Allen, "Synecdoche, New York" and James Franco; and leaving "Rachel Getting Married" in the dust.


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The highlight was Mickey's brilliant acceptance speech. See it here:

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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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