Awards Weekend

The Independent Spirit Awards are tonight, and I’m pulling for my friend Joel Clark’s film The Man from Reno.

Clark co-wrote the script with director Dave Boyle and co-writer Michael Lerman. Kickstarter. Shoe-string budget. Shoe leather capital. Bootstraps. (Add your own metaphor for pluck.) And they got nominated for a John Cassavetes Award, given to the best feature for under $500,000. They’re admittedly up against stiff competition in Blue Ruin, but they’ve already won by getting nominated.

The Cassavetes Award is the heart and soul of the Independent Spirit Awards. Without it, they would be like the Oscars for people who watch those other films too. Like the Oscars, the Independent Spirits seem like awards that are given out with way too much self-consciousness.

Joel Clark on the set.

Joel Clark on the set.

Clark’s next film is a psychedelic epic about Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens. He cast me in it as an astronaut at a cocktail party who abuses the humanoid house plants. (I just play one on TV.)

Ever since the Slumdog Millionaire Oscars a few years ago, when one of the Batman movies got shut out, the Academy has given out so many nominations, it’s like the NHL Hockey playoffs; most teams get in. Theoretically, you just have to get hot in the post-season to win an award. Or, there are so many nominees that the final award, more than ever, will be chosen on commercial grounds.

In 1975 the Best Picture nominees were Jaws, Nashville, Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon, and (the winner) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. You’re probably familiar with tomorrow night’s. Boyhood better win, or possibly Selma, or it’s all a crock.

I’d heard that The Imitation Game was the likely winner for Best Adapted Screenplay, so I went to see it this week. So cheap. So much flimsily manufactured suspense. Every time midnight passed, and the Nazis re-scrambled their code, the team tossed their day’s work in the trash, and I kept wondering, “Aren’t they a little curious what yesterday’s messages said?” Then: “Oh my God, we should start deciphering codes by figuring out the smaller words first! Run! Run to the office! Don’t stop for security!” My friend turned to me and said, “Have these people never done a crossword puzzle?”

Go Man From Reno! Go Joel! Go!



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