The Independent Spirit Awards: The Only Place to Watch Mickey Rourke Give an Acceptance Speech!

The Oscars weren’t the only awards show this weekend. That the Independent Spirit Awards are held on the same day as the announcements of the Razzie Award winners (congratulations Mike Myers!) probably tells you all you need to know about their place in the grand scheme of awards ceremonies. If the Academy Awards are like the official school newspaper at your former college, think of the Spirit Awards as the “other” paper–the one that printed once a month and put a picture of a condom on the front page because it was “subversive.” Still, we watch the Spirit Awards every year mainly because the laid back nature of the event makes even the usually daffy Golden Globes look like a meeting with Queen Elizabeth. Name another awards show where Aaron Eckhart could show up to give out an award wearing a pair of Wrangler jeans. Plus, for our money, they ended up being more entertaining and, most important, shorter than this year’s Oscars. Here some of our favorite moments.

Coogan’s Bluff

Unlike the revamped Academy Awards, the host of the Independent Spirit Awards does it old school. Half monologue, half roast, the beginning of the show is designed to make audience members and viewers simultaneously laugh and cringe. Host Steve Coogan had the cringing part down, but he must have missed the memo about the laughing. Alternatively awkward and unconfident, Mr. Coogan mostly left the crowd with a dazed half-grin–the kind you reserve for a crazy person on the subway. The pièce de résistance was a downright confusing parody song where Mr. Coogan serenaded Jonathan Demme with a mock pitch for a movie. Where was Hugh Jackman when you needed him?

The Not that Independent Spirit Awards

We love the Spirit Awards because they always showcase little-seen movies that really need the boost. So huzzah to Melissa Leo, Best Actress winner for Frozen River, who gave an impassioned speech that bordered on ranting about why true independent film is so important. And three cheers for Best Director winner Tom McCarthy, who crafted one of the most delicate, beautiful and moving films of 2008, The Visitor. Those people are indie! But you know who isn’t? Winners James Franco and Penelope Cruz, and, presenters like Cameron Diaz, Jessica Alba, Michelle Monaghan, and Teri Hatcher. We love James Franco, but that dude was in Spider-man. Come on, guys.

Life with Mickey

Thanks to Sean Penn’s non-upset upset on Sunday night, the only chance we had to watch Mickey Rourke give an acceptance speech over the weekend was at the Independent Spirit Awards. Thankfully, we weren’t disappointed. In what we would have to call the highlight of the awards season, Mr. Rourke spent just under six minutes rambling, cursing and charming his way into the hearts of everyone under the Spirit Awards’ tent–well, except for maybe Marisa Tomei, whom Mr. Rourke called “Melissa.” But only Mickey Rourke could single out Eric Roberts as “the fucking man”; half-cry for his dead and beloved dog, Loki; and refer to one of the women who worked on the movie at Fox Searchlight “the little one I called gap tooth.” In the end, maybe it was best that Mr. Penn won the Oscar instead of Mr. Rourke; there’s no way he would have been able to adequately express himself on regular television without dropping multiple f-bombs. Hugh Jackman wasn’t kidding when he said they would need a twenty-minute delay if Mr. Rourke had won.

The Independent Spirit Awards: The Only Place to Watch Mickey Rourke Give an Acceptance Speech!