Oscar 2011: The Artist Dominates Independent Spirit Awards

“The Artist” dominated at the Spirit awards as the tribute to Hollywood’s silent film era took best feature, best director for Michel Hazanavicius, best cinematographer for Guillaume Schiffman, and the best actor award for Jean Dujardin.

Hazanavicius arrived just in time to receive his award after getting a police escort from the airport along with producer Thomas Langmann. They’d been in Paris on Friday for the Cesar awards.

“This film was so much against conventional wisdom,” Langmann said from the stage.

Dujardin topped Demian Bechir for “A Better Life,” Woody Harrelson for “Rampart,” Michael Shannon for “Take Shelter” and Ryan Gosling for “Drive.”

Michelle Williams nabbed the best actress prize for her turn as Marilyn Monroe in “My Week with Marilyn.” She beat out Lauren Ambrose in “Think of Me,” Rachael Harris in “Natural Selection,” Adepero Oduye in “Pariah” and Elizabeth Olsen in “Martha Marcy May Marlene.”

Christopher Plummer won the supporting actor award for “Beginners” and Shailene Woodley took the supporting actress trophy for “The Descendants”

“Those four months shaped my young adult life,” Woodley said.

Plummer began his acceptance by quipping, “It’s taken me the longest time to realize that the Spirit Awards have nothing to do with booze!”

Plummer previously won Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA awards for the role in Mike Mills’ film.

Best first feature went to J.C. Chandor’s “Margin Call,” which also took home the Robert Altman Award.

“This movie was very hard to get made,” he said. “It shouldn’t have been that hard.”

Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash won for best screenplay for “The Descendants,” while Will Reiser won the best first screenplay award for “50-50.”

It was the only category that “The Artist” didn’t win. Hazanavicius’ screenplay was nominated.

“Pariah” won the John Cassavetes award for writer/director Dee Rees and producer Nekisa Cooper.

Rees got a big laugh when she said, “Any Saturday where you get to wear a sparkling hoodie and have two whiskeys before noon is fucking awesome.”

Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” won for best international film and Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz

won best doc for “The Interrupters.”

Seth Rogen emceed and got off several zingers such as “I made it through the first 5 minutes of each of your movies.”

(Erin Maxwell contributed to this report.)

And the winners are:

FEATURE
“The Artist” – Producer: Thomas Langmann

MALE LEAD
Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”

FEMALE LEAD
Michelle Williams – “My Week with Marilyn”

SUPPORTING MALE
Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”

SUPPORTING FEMALE
Shailene Woodley – “The Descendants”

DIRECTOR
Michel Hazanavicius – “The Artist”

SCREENPLAY
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash – “The Descendants”

FIRST FEATURE
“Margin Call” – Director: J.C. Chandor; producers: Robert Ogden Barnum, Michael Benaroya, Neal Dodson, Joe Jenckes, Corey Moosa, Zachary Quinto

FIRST SCREENPLAY
Will Reiser – “50/50”

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
“Pariah” – Writer/Director: Dee Rees; Producer: Nekisa Cooper

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Guillaume Schiffman – “The Artist”

DOCUMENTARY
“The Interrupters” – Director/Producer: Steve James; Producer: Alex Kotlowitz

INTERNATIONAL FILM
“A Separation” (Iran) – Director: Asghar Farhadi

AUDI SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Mark Jackson – “Without”

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
Sophia Lin – “Take Shelter”

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Heather Courtney – “Where Soldiers Come From”

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
“Margin Call” – Director: J.C. Chandor; casting Director: Tiffany Little Canfield, Bernard Telsey
Ensemble Cast: Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci