Uma Thurman lounges on a bed smoking a cigarette in the poster art for Pulp Fiction

The Best of the Best Week 7 – Film Independent Spirit Awards Best Feature Winners

July 13, 2020 By Cameron Maitland Go Back

Hollywood Suite is rolling out the red carpet for an award-winning film every night at 9pm ET from June 1st to August 31st in an event we’re calling The Best of the Best.

The Film Independent Spirit Awards are relative newcomers on the scene, first established in 1984 to highlight the newly emerging American Independent film movement. The Spirit Awards became more and more relevant throughout the 90s and 00s when independent film began taking over mainstream awards and studios began producing fewer and fewer prestige movies. To this day, the Best Feature award tends to be forward-looking, acknowledging provocative and interesting material the industry hopes to strive towards and often signals future Oscar winners.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Monday, July 13 at 9pm ET on HS00. Available On Demand and on HSGO in July.

Ang Lee is often mistaken as a “foreign” filmmaker thanks to his Taiwanese roots, but his early films were independently produced in America, and he was trained at NYU alongside fellow Spirit Award winner Spike Lee. Lee had been nominated nearly a decade before for his second and third features The Wedding Party and Eat Drink Man Woman, but it was this martial arts spectacle that finally won his first Spirit Awards for Best Feature and Best Director as well as a Best Supporting Actress for Zhang Ziyi.

2000 Spirit Award Best Feature nominee Requiem for a Dream follows at 11:05pm ET on HS00.

Sideways (2004)

Tuesday, July 14 at 9pm ET on HS00. Available On Demand and on HSGO in July.

After Alexander Payne’s 2002 film About Schmidt brought the indie director two Oscar nominations, it was no surprise awards bodies were excited for his next venture in the wine country comedy Sideways. Though it was nominated for five Oscars, it really made its name at the Spirit Awards where it took home Payne’s first awards since Election, and in fact swept the ceremony by taking home all six nominated awards.

2004 Spirit Award Best Feature nominee Kinsey follows at 11:10pm ET on HS00.

The Wrestler (2008)

Wednesday, July 15 at 9pm ET on HS00. Available On Demand and on HSGO in July.

Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler was an awards season favourite having already taken home Venice’s Golden Lion as well as BAFTA and Golden Globe awards for lead actor Mickey Rourke. It was a stiffly competitive year for independent film with Milk, Frozen River and Rachel Getting Married, but The Wrestler triumphed with just three nominations and wins for Best Feature, Best Lead Actor and Best Cinematography, which many signal as an example of the power of Rourke’s performance.

Juno (2007)

Thursday, July 16 at 9pm ET on HS00. Available On Demand and on HSGO in July.

The financial and awards success of Ellen Page’s pregnant teen took many in Hollywood by surprise, but Spirit Awards-watchers may have known what was to come. Director Jason Reitman won some pre-Juno acclaim with his Best Screenplay Spirit Award for his previous film Thank You For Smoking.

Lost in Translation (2003)

Friday, July 17 at 9pm ET on HS00.

By this point you may be noticing a trend that the Spirit Awards Best Feature winner is often also nominated and wins the Best Original or Adapted Screenplay category. When it came to Sofia Coppola’s romantic look at the loneliness of travel, she also made some Spirit Awards history as only the second woman to win Best Director and helm a Best Feature winner after Martha Coolidge’s Ramblin’ Rose won in 1991.

The Player (1992)

Saturday, July 18 at 9pm ET on HS90. Available On Demand and on HSGO in July.

Robert Altman actually took home the Best Feature award this year without taking home Best Director, which went to Carl Franklin for his tremendous One False Move, but the indie cinema master did claim it in 1994 for Short Cuts. Lest you think the Spirit Awards don’t have appreciation for the master, they also inaugurated the Robert Altman Award dedicated to the kind of ensemble cast, director and casting director that work together so well in his classic style.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Sunday, July 19 at 9pm ET on HS00.

It’s probably not a surprise that Quentin Tarantino’s groundbreaking indie swept through the 10th annual Spirit Awards, but you might be surprised to know this film represents his only wins with the body. While he may still seem like an outsider to the mainstream, his rising budgets and increasingly genre fare have left him out of qualification for the Spirit Awards for most of his career.

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