The two awards season front-runners kept the race interesting through the final weekend as Birdman took best film and Boyhood’s Richard Linklater best director at the 30th Independent Spirit Awards. 

Michael Keaton earned best actor for Fox Searchlight’s Birdman and Julianne Moore corresponding actress honours for Still Life, which contributed to Sony Pictures Classics’ unbeaten five awards on the night.

Patricia Arquette collected the award for best supporting actress for IFC Films’ Boyhood at the traditional beachside ceremony beneath a cavernous tent in Santa Monica on Saturday afternoon (February 21).

JK Simmons earned best supporting actor for Whiplash, which also saw editor Tom Cross prevail. SPC released the film. It was a good night for Bold Films, earning two for Whiplash as well as best screenplay and best first feature for Dan Gilroy for Nightcrawler, distributed via Open Road.

Emmanuel Lubezki triumphed in the cinematography category for Birdman and Warner Bros’ Inherent Vice took the eighth Robert Altman Award.

Ida, released in the US via Music Box, was named best international film and RADiUS-TWC, HBO Documentary Films and Participant Media’s Citizenfour won the documentary category.

Foxcatcher, released by SPC, won the Special Distinction Award.

The John Cassavetes Award first best feature made for under $500,000 went to Land Ho!, another SPC release.

The 2015 Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation Fellowship, which includes a cash grant of $10,000, was awarded to Christina Choe. The annual award is given to a film-maker currently participating in a Film Independent artist development programme with the mission of diversity in mind. 

On January 10 the following winners were honoured at the Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grant and Nominee Brunch in West Hollywood:

Chris Ohlson received the Piaget Producers Award given to emerging producers “who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce quality independent films.”

Dan Krauss, director of The Kill Team, received the LensCrafters Truer Than Fiction Award, presented to “an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not received significant recognition.”

H. directors Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia collected the Kiehl’s Someone To Watch Award, in recognition of “talented filmmakers of singular vision who have not yet received appropriate recognition.”

Full list of winners:

Best Feature

Best Director
Richard Linklater

Best Screenplay
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler

Best First Feature

Best First Screenplay
Justin Simien, Dear White People

John Cassavetes Award (For best feature made under $500,000)
Land Ho!

Best Supporting Female
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Best Supporting Male
JK Simmons, Whiplash

Best Female Lead
Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Best Male Lead
Michael Keaton, Birdman

Robert Altman Award
Inherent Vice

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman

Best Editing
Tom Cross, Whiplash

Best International Film
Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski, Poland)

Best Documentary

Special Distinction Award

Award winners by distributor:

5 Sony Pictures Classics

3 Fox Searchlight Pictures

2 IFC Films

2 Open Road Films

1 Roadside Attractions/ Lionsgate

1 Music Box Films

1 RADiUS-TWC / HBO Documentary Films / Participant Media

1 Warner Bros.