Often considered the anti-Oscars, the Film Independent Spirit Awards is the season’s most relaxed award show. Held in a beachside tent in Santa Monica, Calif., the afternoon affair the day before the Oscars drew well-known nominees Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Brie Larson in addition to newcomers like Bel Powley, Mya Taylor and Abraham Attah, of “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” “Tangerine” and “Beasts of No Nation,” respectively.
Many of awards season’s busiest stars swiftly made their way inside. “Hellooooo. I’m just gonna…” Blanchett started to say, before putting on sunglasses and waving her way down the line, perhaps saving her voice for the Academy Awards ceremony.
Meanwhile, Mya Taylor — who went on to make history by becoming the first transgender actress to win a Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female — discussed what the nomination meant to her as she walked the blue carpet. “It shows that I’m accomplishing things,” said the “Tangerine” star, adding that she wasn’t focused on the afternoon’s outcome. “You never have expectations of anything, that’s how I always live my life. Just go with the flow.” As for her dress, Taylor said she wasn’t sure. “I didn’t look at the tag,” she shrugged. The actress seemed delighted by the newfound attention, but admitted she was looking forward to eventually heading home. “I live in North Dakota, so I come here to live my Hollywood life, but then I get to go back home to my nice, lovely, quiet home.” She won’t be away for too long. Taylor is currently developing a semi-autobiographical television show that she plans to shop around with her agents.
Abraham Attah, who went on to win Best Male Lead for his role in “Beasts of No Nation,” was happy to discuss his attire, which was indie-appropriate. “I’m wearing a suit from J. Crew and shoes from Toms,” he said. “Toms donated shoes to my country,” he said of the 10,000 pairs the company gave his homeland of Ghana. Attah will also be wearing custom Toms for his presenting duties at the Oscars.
The event also brings little-known actors and films into the spotlight. Best Supporting Female nominee Marin Ireland of “Glass Chin” was still pinching herself over her good fortune. “My movie is this teeny tiny thing,” she said. “That’s the beauty of this situation. You have movies like ‘Carol’ and ‘Spotlight’ and then you have a movie like mine that I feel like seven people have seen. How can I be nominated alongside Jennifer Jason Leigh?” The actress will soon begin shooting “Sneaky Pete,” an Amazon pilot created by Bryan Cranston and costarring Giovanni Ribisi.
Backstage, the cast of “Spotlight” celebrated its Robert Altman Award. “Come on in!” Liev Schreiber said, attempting to wrangle his fellow cast and crew. The group, including Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, and the real-life reporters upon which the film is based, eventually joined him in the press tent. Idris Elba also made his way back after his win for Best Supporting Male in “Beasts of No Nation.” “Honestly, I’m so much more proud of being a producer than my performance in this film,” he said. “As a producer, you face a lot of doors being closed in your face and in this case, we did have a hard time making it, but we got there in the end and that’s the biggest thing. It was a group effort and that’s a really fulfilling journey.
Meanwhile, Brie Larson continued her winning streak in an embellished blue Chanel dress. “It’s really hard to fully understand and accept these things in the moment,” she said. “Right now, it all just feels like a bizarre, incredible, loving dream that I keep thinking I’m going to wake from, and nothing that I do is waking me up.”