With Nicole Holofcener‘s ethics-in-the-city comedy “Please Give” winning the Robert Altman Award for Best Ensemble, Holofcener, Amanda Peet and Catherine Keener met the press. I asked Holofcener if making “Please Give” resolved any of the moral questions she explored in the film, or if it just raised new avenues of confusion for her. Holofcener laughed: “Well put. No, it didn’t resolve anything for me. Now everybody knows my problems.”
Best Supporting Actor winner John Hawkes of “Winter’s Bone” explained the preparation that went into his role as the scary, charismatic criminal and meth cooker Teardrop. “Well, I was lucky enough to grow up in a small town where there were a lot of … characters,” he said. “And people who scared me a lot. So I drew from that.” Considering that Hawkes has been scary in films like “Winter’s Bone” and the upcoming “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and likable in projects like “Me and You and Everyone We Know” and “Deadwood,” I asked him which was more artistically satisfying — and, more importantly, which paid better. Hawkes smiled. “Well, I would have to add it up,” he said. “I’m not sure whether playing mean folks or sweet folks pays more money. I’m always looking for the best people — the best character, the best story — I can find.”
In the end, though, it was “Black Swan”‘s afternoon, with Libatique’s award and taking Best Director for Darren Aronofsky, Best Actress for Natalie Portman and Best Picture honors. Wearing the kind of neckwear that gets you “Best Scarf” honors as well, Aronofsky was loose and funny in the press tent. What was it, he was asked, that America and the world seemed to be responding to? “I’ve got no f—ing idea, and it’s really exciting,” he said. “The word that keeps coming back to me is ‘fun.’ People are having fun. I guess that’s the best compliment you could get as a filmmaker.” The director of “Pi,” “Requiem for a Dream” and “The Wrestler” paused: “I never got that one before.”
Aronofsky also got to sum up the afternoon — what, he was asked, does “independent” film mean in this day and age, anyhow? “I think ‘independence’ is when you’re independent of the financial realities,” he said. “It’s a very hard word to describe, and people have been trying to figure it out for years. Basically when the filmmakers are in control of the movie as opposed to the people paying for them, I think that’s independence.”
And warmed — even if only figuratively — by that happy thought, the Independent Spirit Awards came to a close for 2011.