Sideways Sweeps the 'Indie Oscars'
Sideways stars Paul Giamatti, Virginia Madsen and Thomas Haden Church
The 20th annual Independent Sprit Awards went Sideways at its ceremony Saturday afternoon on the sunny beach of Santa Monica, with the quirky wine-country comedy going six for six in the categories for which it was nominated, including best picture.
In addition, it took prizes for male lead Paul Giamatti, supporting players Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen, director Alexander Payne, and for its screenplay by Payne and Jim Taylor. All – except Giamatti – are in the running for Oscars in these same categories Sunday night.
"I'm neither particularly spirited nor independent," Giamatti said once he found the steps that led him to the podium to accept his award, which honors those out of the Hollywood studio system's mainstream. "But it's nice to be surrounded by people who are." He also chortled after he read the inscription on his Spirit Award: "Best Male."
Noting that on Sunday night Sideways' strongest competition for the top Oscar will be bigger Hollywood movies, Madsen said: "It does seem the dominating factors are Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator. … Our movie cost $20-$30 million less than the others, so it's a miracle we're being recognized."
Madsen took her 10-year-old son Jack with her to accept her award, because, she said, he's been through so many rough times and stretches of unemployment with her. "He's a good boy," she said backstage, causing Jack to pipe up, "And you're a good mom."
Church said after he won his award that his success in the film "certainly has elevated my profile. The key is following up with something that honors Sideways." He'll next be heard as one of the voices – along with Julia Roberts and Robert Redford – in an animated version of Charlotte's Web.
There were others winners, of course, notably best female lead Catalina Sandino Moreno for Maria Full of Grace, which was also cited for director Joshua Marston's best first screenplay. Another double winner was The Motorcycle Diaries, for actor Rodrigo de la Serna's best debut performance and for its cinematography.
Actor Samuel L. Jackson proved a lively emcee for the event, though at times he seemed to be encroaching on territory usually set aside for Sunday's Oscar host, Chris Rock. Jackson opened Saturday's presentation by announcing: "First of all, turn off the (bleep) (bleep) cell phones. Don't just switch them to vibrate. Turn them the (bleep) off."
But then Scrubs star Zach Braff, whose directorial effort Garden State was named best first feature, told the press backstage that he had a clean joke to tell – or so he said. "Why did Piglet look in the toilet?" he said, his forehead bowing toward the microphone. "He was looking for Pooh."
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