`Translation' wins big at Spirit Awards show for independent films

Sofia Coppola, Bill Murray honored

March 01, 2004|By Chris Kaltenbach

SANTA MONICA - Lost In Translation found plenty of fans at Saturday's Independent Spirit Awards.

Director Sofia Coppola's low-budget tale of spiritually adrift loners establishing an unlikely connection not only was named best feature, but it earned a pair of Spirits for Coppola herself, one for writing, one for directing. And in what may have been the afternoon's most popular choice, star Bill Murray walked off with male lead honors.

"I think there's a place for false modesty, so I'll drag it out right now," a smiling Murray, struggling to appear cool and detached, said backstage after receiving his award.

Other Spirits for acting were awarded to Charlize Theron (female lead, for Monster), Djimon Hounsou (supporting male, for In America), Shohreh Aghdashloo (supporting female, for House of Sand and Fog) and Nikki Reed (debut performance, for Thirteen).

"I'm still a little bit shy about this," Hounsou, a native of the West African nation of Benin, told reporters. "I'm the first one from my country to be in Hollywood and win an award."

Aghdashloo, living in exile from her native Iran, said she hoped her win, as well as her acceptance in Hollywood, would help the cause of human rights in that country. But she refrained from further using her win as a soapbox. "My presence is political," she said. "I do not have to shout it out."

The day's other big winner was writer-director Tom McCarthy's The Station Agent, the chronicle of a grudging, growing friendship between a dwarf, a hot-dog vendor and an artist. The movie won the John Cassavetes Award, for best feature made for under $500,000, and was also honored for best first screenplay. Director Patty Jenkins (Monster) won for best first feature, and New Zealand's Whale Rider won for best foreign film.

The Spirits, which organizers like to think of as Oscar's feistier cousin, were presented during a beachside ceremony Saturday in Santa Monica. They are designed to honor films made outside the mainstream or films that push established boundaries. But in a testimony to how blurred those boundaries are becoming, the winners in nine categories, even best documentary (which went to Errol Morris' The Fog of War), were likewise nominated for Oscars.

No such blurring of boundaries was evident in the results of the weekend's other awards celebration, as Gigli, a mobster-lesbian-kidnapping comedy starring former hot couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, "won" the Razzie award as the year's worst picture.

Gigli earned six Razzies, including acting dishonors for Affleck and Lopez (who also were named worst screen couple) and a double dose of dismay for writer and director Martin Brest, named the year's worst in both of those categories.

Supporting actor and actress Razzies went to Sylvester Stallone (Spy Kids 3-D, his 10th Razzie in the awards' 25-year history) and Demi Moore (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle). None of the winners were present to claim their prizes.

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