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Film Independent Spirit Awards 2019: Complete List Of Winners

Before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences could dish out Oscars this year, the Film Independent had to dole out its own awards. The 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards took place on Saturday, February 23, just a day before the 91st Annual Academy Awards, and we have the complete list of winners. 

Barry Jenkins' If Beale Street Could Talk won big, taking home the trophy for Best Feature and beating out stiff competition in Bo Burnham's Eighth GradePaul Schrader's First Reformed, Debra Granik's Leave No Trace, and Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here. Jenkins also scored the Best Director Spirit Award, trumping Granik (for Leave No Trace), Ramsay (for You Were Never Really Here), Schrader (for First Reformed), and Tamara Jenkins (for Private Life) in the process. 

Based on James Baldwin's acclaimed novel of the same name, If Beale Street Could Talk nabbed a third accolade at the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards — this time the Best Supporting Female Actor award that went to Regina King for her performance as Sharon Rivers, the mother of Teyonah Parris' as Ernestine Rivers and KiKi Layne's Clementine "Tish" Rivers, and the wife of Colman Domingo's Joseph Rivers. 

Ethan Hawke took home the award for Best Male Lead for his turn as Reverend Ernst Toller in First Reformed, while Glenn Close won the Best Female Lead for her performance as Joan Castleman in The Wife

Hawke went up against John Cho (David Kim in the twisty thriller Searching), Daveed Diggs (ex-felon Collin Hoskins in Carlos López Estrada's underrated comedy-drama Blindspotting), Christian Malheiros (15-year-old Sócrates in Alexandre Moratto's Sócrates), and Joaquin Phoenix (post-traumatic stress disorder-riddled hired gun Joe in You Were Never Really Here). Close bested contenders Toni Collette (who played miniature artist Annie Graham in Hereditary), Elsie Fisher (who portrayed young teen Kayla Day in Eighth Grade), Regina Hall (who charmed as Double Whammies sports bar manager Lisa Conroy), Helena Howard (who played the title character Madeline in Madeline's Madeline), and Carey Mulligan (who starred opposite Jake Gyllenhaal as Jeanette Brinson in the Paul Dano-directed drama Wildlife). 

In the supporting actor categories, King of course won for Best Supporting Female Actor and British actor Richard E. Grant scored the award for Best Supporting Male Actor thanks to his dazzling performance as Jack Hock, the eccentric, drug-dealing friend of Melissa McCarthy's author Lee Israel, in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Though Burnham didn't walk away with the Best Director award at the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards, he did win the trophy for Best First Screenplay, for writing Eighth Grade. He was up against some heavy-hitters: Christina Choe for Nancy, Cory Finley for Thoroughbreds, Jennifer Fox for The Tale, and Laurie Shephard and Quinn Shephard for Blame. When accepting the award, Burnham thanked the film community for being so welcoming to him, admitted that he was intimidated when he got started writing and directing Eighth Grade, and gave a special nod to the people who have supported him most and those who inspired his coming-of-age directorial and feature screenwriting debut. 

"I was told very often that I was a comedian for 13-year-old girls, and f*** yeah I am! I'm proud of that," Burnham said. "They deserve to be paid attention to."

Best Screenplay went to Can You Ever Forgive Me? scribes Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, who beat Colette's Richard Glatzer, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, and Wash Westmoreland; Private Life's Tamara Jenkins; Sorry to Bother You's Boots Riley; and First Reformed's Paul Schrader. 

Speaking of Boots Riley, the filmmaker took home the Spirit Award for Best First Feature for Sorry to Bother You, his absurdist dark comedy that stars Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius "Cash" Green and Tessa Thompson as Detroit. 

Netflix's Roma won for Best International Film, Suspiria's Sayombhu Mukdeeprom won for Best Cinematography, and the Fred Rogers film Won't You Be My Neighbor? won for Best Documentary. Accepting the award, Won't You Be My Neighbor? director Morgan Neville said, "Fred knew that kindness was more than something that sounds good on bumper sticker. Radical kindness, which means civility, is something like oxygen."

Many of the 2019 Spirit Awards nominees were underappreciated by mainstream moviegoers in 2018 and by other film organizations that already handed out awards earlier this season. It's fantastic to see the Film Independent honor such incredible pieces of cinema, even more so since the Spirit Awards mark the last awards ceremony before the Oscars. In years past, the Spirit Awards have served as the final predictor of which movies might win Academy Awards — but this year is different, as none of the nominees for Best Feature at the Spirit Awards are up for Best Picture at the Oscars. For the past four years, the films that took home the Best Feature Spirit Award went on to win the Best Picture Oscar: 12 Years a Slave in 2014, Birdman in 2015, Spotlight in 2016, and Moonlight in 2017. (The Shape of Water took home Best Picture at the 2018 Academy Awards, but it was not up for Best Feature at the 2018 Spirit Awards.) 

This awards season has been pretty unpredictable, and the trend continued with the 2019 Spirit Awards. With the 2019 Oscars set to air in just a few hours from the time of this writing, it's truly anyone's guess which films will score the shiny golden statues.

Chosen by the Film Independent's 6,000-plus members and selected by its 46-person committee, the Spirit Awards are handed to films that were produced in the States (even foreign films) and cost less than $20 million to make. Find the full list of winners below.

Best Feature

Eighth Grade

First Reformed

WINNER: If Beale Street Could Talk

Leave No Trace

You Were Never Really Here

Best First Feature


WINNER: Sorry to Bother You

The Tale

We the Animals


Best Director

Debra Granik, Leave No Trace

WINNER: Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

Tamara Jenkins, Private Life

Lynne Ramsay, You Were Never Really Here

Paul Schrader, First Reformed

Best Female Lead

WINNER: Glenn Close, The Wife

Toni Collette, Hereditary

Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade

Regina Hall, Support the Girls

Helena Howard, Madeline's Madeline

Carey Mulligan, Wildlife

Best Male Lead

John Cho, Searching

Daveed Diggs, Blindspotting

WINNER: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

Christian Malheiros, Sócrates

Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here

Best Supporting Female Actor

Kayli Carter, Private Life

Tyne Daly, A Bread Factory

WINNER: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Leave No Trace

J. Smith-Cameron, Nancy

Best Supporting Male Actor

Raúl Castillo, We the Animals

Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

WINNER: Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Josh Hamilton, Eighth Grade

John David Washington, Monsters and Men

Best Screenplay

Richard Glatzer, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, and Wash Westmoreland, Colette

WINNER: Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Tamara Jenkins, Private Life

Boots Riley, Sorry to Bother You

Paul Schrader, First Reformed

Best First Screenplay

WINNER: Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade

Christina Choe, Nancy

Cory Finley, Thoroughbreds

Jennifer Fox, The Tale

Laurie Shephard and Quinn Shephard, Blame

John Cassavetes Award

A Bread Factory

WINNER: En el Séptimo Día

Never Goin' Back


Thunder Road

Best Documentary

Hale County This Morning, This Evening

Minding the Gap

Of Fathers and Sons

On Her Shoulders


WINNER: Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Best International Film

Burning (South Korea)

The Favourite (United Kingdom)

Happy as Lazzaro (Italy)

WINNER: Roma (Mexico)

Shoplifters (Japan)

Best Editing

WINNER: Joe Bini, You Were Never Really Here

Keiko Deguchi, Brian A. Kates, and Jeremiah Zagar, We the Animals

Luke Dunkley, Nick Fenton, Chris Gill, and Julian Hart, American Animals

Anne Fabini, Alex Hall, and Gary Levy, The Tale

Nick Houy, Mid90s

Best Cinematography

Ashley Connor, Madeline's Madeline

Diego García, Wildlife

Benjamin Loeb, Mandy

WINNER: Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Suspiria

Zak Mulligan, We the Animals

Robert Altman Award (Best Ensemble)

WINNER: Suspiria

The Bonnie Award

WINNER: Debra Granik

Tamara Jenkins

Karyn Kusama

Producers Award

Jonathan Duffy and Kelly Williams

Gabrielle Nadig

WINNER: Shrihari Sathe

Someone to Watch Award

WINNER: Alex Moratto, Sócrates

Ioana Uricaru, Lemonade

Jeremiah Zagar, We the Animals

Truer Than Fiction Award

Alexandria Bomback, On Her Shoulders

WINNER: Bing Liu, Minding the Gap

Ramell Ross, Hale County This Morning, This Evening