'12 Years a Slave,' Oscar frontrunners sweep Spirit Awards

Sat Mar 1, 2014 8:32pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

SANTA MONICA, California (Reuters) - Harrowing slavery drama "12 Years a Slave" swept the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday with five wins, just one day ahead of the Oscar ceremony on Sunday.

"12 Years a Slave" won five of its seven nominations at the awards show for independent movies made on small budgets, including the top award for best feature.

Oscar frontrunners Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong'o also took home Spirit Award trophies on the eve of the movie industry's biggest honors.

"12 Years a Slave" producer-director Steve McQueen dedicated the best picture Spirit Award to lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and supporting star Michael Fassbender, who were both nominated but did not win.

"Michael Fassbender is a genius, he's brave, he's feminine, he's masculine ... that's what Michael Fassbender is. Chiwetel was the soul and heart of this movie, and gave the most nuanced performance you've ever seen," McQueen said.

McQueen also won best director, and is a strong contender in the Oscars director race on Sunday.

The Spirit Awards, held in a giant tent on California's Santa Monica beach, is usually a sunny and crisp affair. But this year guests were armed with umbrellas and rain boots as bursts of heavy rain pattered on the tent.


Actress Lupita Nyong'o and director Steve McQueen pose with their awards for "12 Years a Slave" backstage at the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California March 1, 2014. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok