The big story of the evening was that Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire swept the major categories and won every award it was nominated for, including Best Feature, Best Director (Lee Daniels), Best First Screenplay (Geoffrey Fletcher), Best Supporting Actress (Mo'Nique) and Best Actress (Gabourey Sidibe). Sidibe made me smile when she cited Welcome to the Dollhouse as a major influence on her decision to pursue acting. As for Daniels, he somewhat acknowledged that he didn't have to compete with Oscar favorite Kathryn Bigelow, as The Hurt Locker was a nominee at last year's Spirit Awards (though not for Best Director).
Other Oscar nominees were big winners last night, too. Jeff Bridges won Best Actor for Crazy Heart, which also won Best First Feature. Woody Harrelson was named Best Supporting Actor for The Messenger. A Serious Man won for Best Cinematography (Roger Deakins) and received the Robert Altman Award, which honors a film's director(s), casting director and ensemble cast. The Coens, who were also nominated for Best Director, are apparently on location for True Grit and missed the honors. Also, the British Best Picture nominee An Education picked up the award for Best Foreign Film. Director Lone Scherfig thanked Sony Classics for distributing "masterpieces," such as foreign films The White Ribbon and fellow Spirit nominee A Prophet.
Fans of (500) Days of Summer and Anvil! The Story of Anvil were very happy to see these films win, respectively, Best Screenplay and Best Documentary. Both films are greatly considered to have been snubbed by the Oscars in these same categories (and in general, I guess). Another very popular winner was Lynn Shelton, whose Humpday garnered the filmmaker her second consecutive Spirit Award -- this time the John Cassavetes Award, for the best film made for less than $500,000. Last year Shelton was (appropriately it seems) honored with the Someone to Watch Award. This year's recipient of that award was Kyle Patrick Alvarez (Easier With Practice).
Other winners included Bill Ross and Turner Ross, who received the Truer Than Fiction Award for their documentary 45365, and Karen Chien, who won the Piaget Producers Award. A full lists of winners can be found here.