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At the 2023 Spirit Awards, women dominated the gender-neutral acting categories

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

"Everything Everywhere All At Once" is a frontrunner for the Oscars. And yesterday, the film also picked up seven film Independent Spirit Awards. Comedian Hasan Minhaj hosted the event held at a tent on the beach in Santa Monica. NPR's Mandalit del Barco was there.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: In the multiverse of Hollywood ceremonies, "Everything Everywhere All At Once" won in every Spirit Award category for which it was nominated, including best feature and best director for the Daniels, as they're known - Daniel Scheinert...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DANIEL SCHEINERT: Thank you for everybody who makes crazy, weird independent movies.

DEL BARCO: ...And Daniel Kwan.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DANIEL KWAN: What we do here is going to flow upstream to the rest of the industry. I urge you all to plant some seeds now today. Figure out, how can we make a movie set more family-friendly and human-centered? How can we make a movie set...

(APPLAUSE)

KWAN: ...Eco-friendly? Can we get to net-zero with a film set? I don't know, but let's dream big.

DEL BARCO: For the first time, the Spirit Awards presented gender-neutral acting awards. Michelle Yeoh, who plays the mother in "Everything Everywhere," won the big prize - best lead performance.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MICHELLE YEOH: And I want to dedicate this to all our mothers. Without our mothers, none of us would be here.

(APPLAUSE)

DEL BARCO: Yeoh's co-star, Ke Huy Quan, got the award for best supporting performance.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KE HUY QUAN: I am so happy that so many people have seen our movie. And at times, I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love that you all have continued to show us.

DEL BARCO: Stephanie Hsu, who plays the daughter in the movie, accepted her award for best breakthrough performance.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STEPHANIE HSU: I came from the world of downtown experimental theater, and it is one of my biggest prides to be from that community of knowing how to make something out of nothing, knowing how to support one another, doing it just because you love doing it.

DEL BARCO: These awards honor films and shows made in the spirit of independence. For that, another Oscar-nominated film won this year's Robert Altman Award for ensemble cast - "Women Talking." Director and screenwriter Sarah Polley accepted the award surrounded by some of the cast members.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SARAH POLLEY: Watching the way that this group of people supported and held each other and worked as a collective honestly changed my feeling about the world and about what we're capable of as human beings. And I'm so proud that I get to stand up here with you.

DEL BARCO: There were other Spirit Awards that are Oscar-nominated, like "Aftersun," which won for best first feature and "Tar" for best cinematography. Pakistan's Oscar entry, "Joyland," won for best international film. The winner of the truer than fiction award went to the documentary "I Didn't See You There." It was shot from the point of view of director and narrator Reid Davenport in his electric wheelchair. He got a standing ovation at the ceremony when he asked his colleagues to let more disabled people into the film industry.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

REID DAVENPORT: It's time.

(APPLAUSE)

DEL BARCO: This year, the Spirit Awards were livestreamed, not broadcast, but they honored television shows such as "Pachinko" and "The Bear." Actress Ayo Edebiri, who's in "The Bear," got a supporting performance award.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AYO EDEBIRI: This is really nice 'cause I'm in a room full of a lot of people who I really admire and look up to, but there's also a lot of people who look like me and feel like me, and that's really nice.

(APPLAUSE)

DEL BARCO: Quinta Brunson said her TV show "Abbott Elementary" is made in the spirit of collaboration. She dedicated her award to whatever kid is making content on TikTok right now.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

QUINTA BRUNSON: That little TikTok video or whatever comes out at the time - might be SplishSplosh when you're a kid. I hope that you know that with enough care for your craft, you can make it to win an award. So thank you guys so much. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

DEL BARCO: All of the winners gave uplifting speeches. By contrast, the ceremony's host and former "Daily Show" correspondent Hasan Minhaj wasn't in the same spirit.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HASAN MINHAJ: Award shows are dead. My 2-year-old watches slime videos with more views than the Oscars. But you all showed up, which means that you're truly in it for the love of the game. No one asked you to make the movies you made, and honestly, no one watched them.

(GROANING)

DEL BARCO: That joke got a lot of groans in the room, but the last laugh may be the Spirit Award winners winning everything at the Oscars next Sunday. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.