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'Moonlight' sweeps Spirit Awards; Affleck wins best actor

Published: Updated:

Sunday might be dominated by “La La Land,” but Saturday belonged to “Moonlight.”

Barry Jenkins' luminous coming-of-age tale swept Saturday's Film Independent Spirit Awards, taking home six awards including best feature. “Moonlight” won every award it was nominated for at the 32nd annual indie awards, the dressed-down, beachside ceremony held the day before the Academy Awards.

“Moonlight” won for its directing, screenplay, cinematography and editing. It was also honored for its ensemble cast in the Spirit Awards' Robert Altman Award. Backstage, Jenkins said its tale of a poor, young, black kid in Miami stood in stark contrast to President Donald Trump's administration.

“I think 'Moonlight' exists as a beacon of inclusivity,” said Jenkins, flanked by his African-American cast and producers.

The afternoon ceremony frequently had a strong political tenor. Casey Affleck, who won best actor for “Manchester by the Sea,” wore a shirt with the word "love" in Arabic.

“The policies of this administration are abhorrent and will not last,” said Affleck, accepting his award. Backstage, he spoke about “the torrent of terrifying news that comes out of Washington every day”

Some Oscar contenders were missing their presumed rivals at the Spirit Awards, which only nominated films made for $20 million or less (and thus disqualifying the Academy Awards favorite “La La Land”).

But if “Moonlight,” nominated for eight Oscars including best picture, is to pull off the upset Sunday, it has some history on its side. The last three Spirit Awards best-feature winners – “Spotlight,” '”Birdman,” '”12 Years a Slave” - all went on to win best picture at the Oscars.

Best actress went to Isabelle Huppert, the French actress of “Elle,” who bested Natalie Portman and Annette Bening. Just as Affleck wasn't up against Oscar favorite Denzel Washington in best actor, the best actress category was missing Emma Stone of “La La Land.”

Molly Shannon, the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member, supplied one of the afternoon's highpoints. She was visibly overjoyed by winning best supporting actress for her performance in "Other People." She concluded her speech by exclaiming, “I really truly feel like a ... SUPERSTAR!” - aping her old “SNL” character.