12 Things the Cameras Missed During the Spirit Awards

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Film Independent posted up on Santa Monica Beach on Sunday to present its annual Spirit Awards, the biggest party for the independent film scene. While cameras captured the live show for a stream on YouTube, The Hollywood Reporter was inside the iconic white tent on the beach to bring you all the action you might’ve missed.

Hey, Wait for Me

Aidy Bryant kicked off the telecast with a well-received monologue as she took on her very first gig fronting an awards show. In the early moments of Bryant’s debut, nominees Greta Lee (Past Lives) and Andrew Scott (All of Us Strangers) were seen entering the tent and hustling their way to their respective tables as two of the last stars to get seated. It was a good thing, too, as Bryant then zeroed in on Lee in particular during her faux-roasting jokes. “Greta, you are a slob and a slut and a stupid bitch. I’m sorry I’m not a good roaster. Just know that if you’re feeling scared, I’ve done that to people I’ve met or I know or that I want to have sex with.” Scott didn’t stay seated for long as he was then spotted during the monologue making his way backstage.

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Jessica Chastain’s Generous Meet-and-Greet

The Oscar-winning actress, who once lived in Santa Monica before she hit it big in Hollywood, looked right at home as she hit the Spirit Awards and worked the crowd. Escaping the crush of the blue carpet, the highly decorated actress (wearing a blue dress by Oscar de la Renta), took a detour on her way to the tent by spending a generous amount of time greeting fans that were situated on the other side of the barricade. “I’ve never seen anyone spend that amount of time,” relayed one eyewitness of Chastain’s fan service. “She literally walked the entire way down to spend time with people and then she went back the same way. It was amazing.”

Hi, it’s Emma Calling

Emma Corrin, the nominated star of A Murder at the End of the World had official duties on the telecast by presenting a Spirit Award toward the top of the show. Once Corrin was wrapped and a chunk of time had passed, the actor was spotted on the faux grassy knoll near the Bulleit Whiskey bar taking a quiet time out to make a phone call. Corrin stood there alone for several minutes with a phone to the ear, hard to miss in a custom black silk top with graphic detail and matching skirt paired with embellished green tights and leather heels, all by Miu Miu.

Not at All Strangers but Actually Best Buds

Billie Eilish snagged a Spirit Award nomination for her acting debut opposite Dominique Fishback in Prime Video’s buzzy series Swarm. The music superstar has been a ubiquitous presence during awards season as she’s been making the rounds for writing the Barbie track “What Was I Made For?” with big brother Finneas O’Connell (and cleaning up in the process). Though she did go home empty-handed Sunday, she did not at all look down about it, as Eilish (wearing Valentino) was spotted in a lengthy chat with fellow nominee Andrew Scott (wearing custom Etro) after the show had ended. Scott, nominated for his work in the critically acclaimed All of Us Strangers, was seen laughing and chatting it up with Eilish for 10 minutes or more as security hovered.

Hold My Pen, Please

Da’Vine Joy Randolph has been cleaning up this awards season in the supporting actress category for her work opposite Paul Giamatti and Dominic Sessa in Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers. If you’ve seen any of her speeches thus far — at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, Critics Choice Awards, Spirits, New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association, to name a few — then you’ve caught her reading prepared remarks. During a chat with The Hollywood Reporter on the blue carpet Sunday, the Oscar nominee said she always wants to speak from her heart, so she takes time to jot down some notes that come from there. She doesn’t spend days mulling it over, however, as she said she cobbled some thank-yous down shortly before arriving in Santa Monica. “I didn’t write it until an hour ago, so it is very fresh on my heart, and it’s exactly what I mean to say. I just write it so that I can make sure that I can articulate it appropriately and how I feel, but I mean it very deeply.” She wasn’t the only Holdovers winner today as the film also picked up a best cinematographer prize for Eigil Bryld and best supporting performance for Sessa (making it the most winning film from today’s ceremony). When the breakout actor won, Randolph was super stoked and was spotted giving a high-five to a tablemate as Sessa walked to the stage in his Saint Laurent look.

“People are Dying”

Four DaughtersKaouther Ben Hania won for best documentary, and not long after she delivered her remarks on the main stage, the filmmaker was spotted across the way from the protester who disrupted the telecast. A man walked up and down the bike path playing recorded chants on a megaphone to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict. “Free Palestine,” “long live Palestine” and “ceasefire now” could be heard over and over again, and the filmmaker recorded the scene and raised her fist in support. “People are dying every day, every day, and we are watching it on our phones,” she told THR. “So you have a guy here reminding us about reality. I feel sad. I won an award and there is a hero here.”

Film Independent President Responds to “Free Palestine” Protest

Cameras did catch the protest as viewers on the YouTube livestream reported being able to hear the chants from inside the tent. It lasted longer than an hour, and several of the winners and presenters commented on the protest. After the credits had rolled, THR caught up with Josh Welsh, the long-serving president of Film Independent, for his response to the scene. “At Film Independent, we embrace the First Amendment and freedom of speech, and this is clearly a moment when people feel passionately about what’s happening in the world and want to speak about it. We support that. Of course, we also want to honor the filmmakers here today in their moment being recognized for their beautiful work. But I think today was a beautiful show and people incorporated what was going on into their remarks in really great ways.”

Sweet Embrace for Trace Lysette

Trace Lysette snagged a Spirit Award nomination for her work as the lead in Andrea Pallaoro’s Monica opposite Patricia Clarkson. She became only the fifth out transgender performer to be nominated in an acting category at the Spirit Awards. And though she didn’t win — Jeffrey Wright triumphed in the best lead performance category for his work in Cord Jefferson’s American Fiction — Lysette received an instant prize after the winner was announced when two of her table mates showered her with love and hugs to honor the moment. One of those hugs came from Hustlers filmmaker Lorene Scafaria who accompanied Lysette to the show.

But First, Coffee

It’s been an exceptionally busy awards season thus far, and perhaps no weekend was more jam-packed than this one with the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Spirit Awards and the Producers Guild Awards all happening within 24 hours. Fortunately, there were multiple coffee stations at the Spirits thanks to Lavazza. For the first time ever, a Lavazza station offered up pours behind the press line and the queue was several deep for most of the morning. During the telecast, THR spotted an even longer line in the Lavazza tent where guests and indie film insiders waited for hot cups of joe.

Can I See Your Wristband Please?

Security is always pretty tight at the Spirit Awards, and rightfully so. But there was a bit of confusion this year over the wristband situation. Having a ticket wasn’t enough to gain entrance to the tent, attendees also had to produce wristbands to pass by specific security personnel though that wasn’t relayed to all guests (or press), apparently. THR spotted one guard who was keeping a strict eye on people’s wrists to make sure that they had the full credentials to enter. At one point, the guard was denying entrance to several guests who had already been seated inside during the show. “I could lose my job,” the security guard said as she blocked several people from heading back inside. One particular nominee — Birth/Rebirth writer-director Laura Moss — was denied entrance. “I’m nominated,” she said in her defense. (And she was: Moss was up for two awards, including the Someone to Watch Award as well as best screenplay for her work with co-writer Brendan J. O’Brien in a category that went to American Fiction filmmaker Cord Jefferson.) Moss waited for a moment or two until one of her peers was able to produce proper credentials. Crisis averted!

Say Cheese!

Host Aidy Bryant made use of the location by trying to get a beach party started inside the tent by bringing out all the necessary accoutrements, including beach balls, hot dogs and a few shirtless men in board shorts. After their work was done, two of the hunks hit up a step-and-repeat to get some photographic evidence to remember their starry afternoon.

What’s for Lunch?

Much like a school field trip, the Spirit Awards served up a boxed lunch for guests to nosh on during the show. Packaged by Untitled Events, the menu featured cold sesame noodles, grilled chicken yakitori skewers, crunchy cucumber salad, spicy kimchi dip with wonton chips. Tables featured family-style desserts of olive oil shortbread with blood orange glaze, ginger molasses sandwich cookies and dark chocolate cherry ganache bars. There were plenty of bottles popping as well, as Miraval presented the Petite Fleur, its newest release from the Champagne Fleur de Miraval, as the official champagne of the Spirit Awards. It was served alongside Miraval’s Cotes de Provence Rosé, Stella Artois as the official beer, Fiji Water as an official partner for the 11th consecutive year, and custom cocktails from Bulleit Frontier Whiskey.

See the full list of winners here.

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