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How to Bet on the Film Independent Spirit Awards

by Jason Lake
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Independent Spirit Awards Get Out

It’s a tale as old as time: There’s stuff that’s good, and there’s stuff that’s popular. Awards shows like the Oscars are supposed to celebrate the former, but they’re really about promoting the latter. This year’s actual Best Picture might not be among the 10 nominees for the Academy Award; it could be something obscure that was shown at your local repertory cinema – if your town still has one. 

That’s why they created the Film Independent Spirit Awards. This modest ceremony is pretty much what the Oscars would be if it were run by artists instead of businesspeople. Everything about the Oscars that you shake your fist at? The Spirit Awards have fixed it for you.

You don’t need to be a cinephile to bet on major awards shows like the Spirit Awards. But it will help your cause if you know a thing or two about this event before you open up those wallets and/or purses.

What Are The Spirit Awards?

Our journey begins in the distant past: 1984. That’s when Jeanne Lucas and Anne Kimmel from Independent Features Project/West came up with the idea for an alternative to the Oscars ceremony. Sam O’Brien hopped on board as event producer, and presto, the FINDIE Awards (Friends of Independents) were born.

The names would change over time. Independent Features Project/West (founded in 1979 by Gregory Nava and Anna Thomas) became Film Independent, who for a while was in charge of the LA Film Festival; the FINDIEs themselves were rebranded as the Independent Spirit Awards in 1986.

The awards have changed as well. At first, the winners – as determined by a vote among Film Independent members – were handed acrylic/glass pyramids with shoelaces inside, representing the “shoestring budgets” behind most indie films. Now those shoestrings are wrapped around a metal pole, upon which a bird stands ready for take-off.

Where Are The Spirit Awards Held?

We’re going to the beach, G. The Spirit Awards are held in Santa Monica, California, inside a festival tent next to the Santa Monica Pier – about 10 miles away from the Oscars in Beverly Hills.

They used to hold the Spirit Awards the Saturday before the Oscars, but even this has changed; the 39th Independent Spirit Awards were scheduled for February 25, well before the 96th Academy Awards on March 10. IFC also stopped airing the Spirit Awards in 2023, so you have to watch them on YouTube now.

What Are The Spirit Award Categories?

The Spirit Awards are actually for both film and television, but it’s the film side of things most people care about. The major categories are as follows:

  • Best Feature
  • Best Director
  • Best Lead Performance
  • Best Supporting Performance

As you can see, the Spirit Awards have done away with gender-specific categories like Best Male Lead and Best Female Lead. This was done in 2022, the same year they added Best Breakthrough Performance to the menu. Other awards are handed out for screenplay, cinematography, editing and more.

Which Movies Have Won The Spirit Award?

You knew these awards were serious right off the bat when they made Martin Scorsese’s After Hours their first Best Feature in 1986. But in case you thought these were the anti-Oscars, Platoon was the winner at the ceremony held in 1987. Other notable Best Features that also took home various Oscars (usually for Best Screenplay) include the following:

  • Pulp Fiction (1995)
  • Fargo (1997)
  • Sideways (2004)
  • Little Miss Sunshine (2007)
  • The Artist (2011)
  • 12 Years a Slave (2013)
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

Which Actors Have Won The Spirit Award?

This is where an understanding of the category changes can really help your Spirit Awards betting.

The list of Best Male Lead actors included everyone from heavyweights like Sean Penn (1995, for Dead Man Walking) and Matthew McConaughey (2013, for Dallas Buyers Club) to lesser-known names like Abraham Attah (2015, for Beasts of No Nation) and Simon Rex (2021, for Red Rocket).

Likewise, Best Female Lead winners ran the gamut from Jodie Foster (Five Corners, 1988) and Julie Christie (Afterglow, 1997) to Shareeka Epps (Half Nelson, 2006) and Brie Larson (Room, 2015).

There’s only been one winner since this category became gender-neutral: Michelle Yeoh, for her work in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Six of this year’s 10 nominees for Best Lead Performance are women, so don’t be surprised if this is the start of a new betting trend at the Spirit Awards.

author avatar
Jason Lake
Jason has been writing about sports betting since 2002. He earned his B.A. in Pacific and Asian Studies from the University of Victoria back in 1997. He has a passion for all things sports betting.

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