Precious dominates five prizes
The Harlem drama Precious won five prizes on Friday at the Spirit Awards honouring independent film, including best picture and trophies for stars Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique and director Lee Daniels.
Sidibe won best actress for "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," playing an illiterate teenager pulling herself out of an abyss of neglect and abuse. Mo'Nique earned the supporting-actress honour as the girl's loathsome mother.
Jeff Bridges won best actor for the country-music tale Crazy Heart and Woody Harrelson won supporting actor for the war-on-terror drama The Messenger.
All four acting winners are up for the same honours at Sunday's Academy Awards, where Bridges and Mo'Nique are the front-runners and newcomer Sidibe was nominated for her screen debut.
"Gabby, you are truly a special gift to the universe, baby," Mo'Nique said. "For people to get to know you and be in your presence, they are all honoured."
Though she has dominated her category at earlier film honours, Mo'Nique said backstage she had not prepared a speech for the Oscars, "because I think the universe would say, 'You have a lot of nerve'."
Precious swept every category for which it was nominated, including best screenplay by a first-time writer for Geoffrey Fletcher. He and director Daniels also are nominated at the Oscars, where Precious is among the best-picture contenders.
Sidibe said her mother used to give her two dollars to go to school and that she saved the money to see an independent film, Welcome to the Dollhouse, at a cinema her bus would drive past.
"Hey, I could do that," Sidibe said. "To be corny, you could say that's when my independent spirit was born."
Accepting the directing award, Daniels wisecracked, "Kathryn Bigelow's not here tonight. I am," referring to the maker of The Hurt Locker, the favourite to win best director at the Oscars.