'Moonlight' Cleans Up at Independent Spirit Awards

'Moonlight' won six awards includeing Best Feature Film at the Independent Spirit Awards

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Moonlight took home the award for Best Feature Film at Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards, setting up a heavyweight bout with La La Land for Best Picture at Sunday’s Oscars.

The Barry Jenkins-directed film—which chronicles the coming of age of a gay black man in America—won a total of six awards, breaking the record for most wins in one year.

When all was said and done, Moonlight ended up winning every single award it was nominated for, including Best Editing, Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and the Robert Altman Award, which honors the work of an acting ensemble.

Earlier this year, Jenkins spoke to Complex about why, despite not being gay himself, he was able to tell this very important story. “When I read the piece, I thought, this is a story that needs to be told by a queer filmmaker,” he said. I've always considered myself an ally to LGBT causes and it was an opportunity to put that empathy into action. And what I decided was that if I was respectful to Tarell's [Tarell Alvin, who wrote the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, on which the film is based] voice, if I preserved his voice, then this was a way that I, as a straight man, could bring a queer story into the world and do it with the same nuance and subtlety and respect that someone who had the first-person experience would.” 

Without the presence of La La Land—a film can only be nominated if it was made for less than $20 million—many observers expected Moonlight to sweep Saturday’s awards. And while the show is rarely an arbiter for Oscar success, it’s clear that industry love for Jenkins’ masterpiece is still running strong.

Other winners Saturday included Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea) and Isabelle Huppert (Elle), who won Best Actor and Best Actress\, respectively. Robert Eggers won Best First Screenplay and Best First Feature for his chilling period horror The Witch, while ESPN’s universally acclaimed O.J.: Made in America beat out Ava DuVernay’s equally hailed 13th for Best Documentary. 

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