Just as we expected, Independent Spirit Awards lavished nominations upon "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" today, thereby addressing the film's ridiculous snub by the other, rival prize for independent films, the Gotham Awards, which gave their top trophy last night to "The Hurt Locker."
This year's clash between the two awards — bestowed by rival factions of an organization that split in 2006 — marks the height of absurdity in awards land. Each side is embracing one of the two top indies — "The Hurt Locker" or "Precious" — to the exclusion of the other. In the end, both awards look foolish and everybody loses.
"The Hurt Locker" isn't eligible at the Indie Spirits this year so it won't be going head to head with "Precious" on awards night, but it was eligible last year and failed to be nominated for best picture. How clueless is that? Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie received lead- and supporting-acting bids, so we know that it was on voters' radar. They just didn't think it was worthy of consideration for the top prize. Instead, nominees were "Ballast," "Frozen River," "Rachel Getting Married," "Wendy and Lucy" and the winner, "The Wrestler."
In recent months, "The Hurt Locker" has built up deafening buzz. The Gotham Awards — based in Manhattan — saw their chance to swoop in and give "The Hurt Locker" the kudos love it should have received from their Los Angeles counterpart, but, strangely, the Gothams decided to snub the other top indie film in the process: "Precious."
Get the picture? Can you guess what's going to win the Indie Spirit Award this year? Does it even matter that there are four other nominees: "(500) Days of Summer," "Amreeka," "Sin Nombre" and "The Last Station"?
This game of tug-of-war (or, rather, snub and makeup hug) between the indie awards goes on all the time. The Spirits voted "Juno" best picture of 2007, for example, after it failed to nab a top nom at the Gothams.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? On one hand, it's outrageous to watch these awards take turns pointing out how foolish their rival is, but maybe it's a good thing because, in the end, more worthy indie films get recognized.
But, meantime, the war shows how clueless they both can be — and how faulty their award processes are. Last night, the Gotham Awards staged a sham at Cipriani Wall Street. The ceremony may have looked so glam, being packed with glitterati like Alec Baldwin, Natalie Portman and Stanley Tucci plus emerging indie talents like director Kathryn Bigelow. But it was a hollow prize being bestowed from the podium if this year's other top indie, "Precious," wasn't even invited to the party.
Photos: Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate