Hasan Minhaj’s savage monologue sends gasps through the Spirit Awards

A man in an orange suit outside a tent at an awards show
Independent Spirit Awards host Hasan Minhaj arrives at the show in Santa Monica on Saturday.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
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“Let’s dream big. This is our time to do it.”

In accepting the prize for best feature at Saturday’s Film Independent Spirit Awards, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” co-director Daniel Kwan exhorted the audience of filmmakers and industry professionals to take the uncertainty of the moment in the entertainment industry and make the most of it.

Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan
Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

“Everything Everywhere,” written and directed by Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, swept the awards with a record-breaking seven prizes, winning every category it was nominated in. The only award it did not win was for Jamie Lee Curtis, who lost for supporting performer to her co-star Ke Huy Quan.


Previously, three films, “Moonlight,” “Sideways” and “Pulp Fiction,” have each won six Spirit Awards.

Quinta Brunson
“Abbott Elementary” creator and actress Quinta Brunson at the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Inside the awards tent beachside near the Santa Monica Pier, tension oscillated throughout the afternoon between the earnestness and genuine emotions of the winners and a sense of despair and cynicism from presenters and host Hasan Minhaj.

“No one asked you to make the movies you made,” the comedian quipped in his opening remarks, “and honestly no one watched them.”

The 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards
The awards show was held next to the Santa Monica Pier.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Minhaj kicked off the show with a blistering monologue that took a no-holds-barred approach to the world of independent film, including those who make them, the audiences who watch them and even the journalists who cover them.


Minhaj made special note of the fact this year’s show was being streamed on YouTube but did not have a broadcast television outlet, having lost its longtime home of IFC.

“Let me reiterate how bad this is,” Minhaj said. “The Independent Film Channel did not want the Independent Film Awards.”

Paul Mescal, of "Aftersun," at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” becomes the 10th movie to sweep the directors, producers and Screen Actors guilds. History says the Oscar is next.

Feb. 26, 2023

Minhaj also noted what was broadcasting on IFC in that time slot, the misbegotten 2008 Will Ferrell basketball comedy, “Semi-Pro.”

Minhaj then enjoyed an extended run of savage jokes about the industry trade website Deadline, declaring it a “journalistic piece of s—” and saying it was “half gossip, half Ezra Miller crime tracker,” prompting loud gasps from the audience.

In presenting the first award, former host Aubrey Plaza, nominated for her lead turn in “Emily the Criminal,” continued the jokes about the show’s lack of broadcast partnership, saying it had “finally become so indie, no one can even watch it.”

Nikyatu Jusu
Nikyatu Jusu, writer and director of the movie “Nanny,” at the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Plaza then said she thought future shows should be done without cameras and the award itself should be a cup full of broken glass. Plaza got the audience, along with actor and “Women Talking” producer Frances McDormand, to chant along: “Drink glass! Drink glass!”

In presenting the best screenplay prize to her “Everything Everywhere” filmmakers, Jamie Lee Curtis implored the audience to see movies in theaters, “the way they were meant to be seen.”

Actress Cate Blanchett
Actress Cate Blanchett, nominated for her performance “Tar,” at the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

This was the first year in which the Spirit Awards gave out non-gendered acting prizes, expanding the nominees to 10 in a single category.

Accepting an award for lead performance in a new scripted series for “Abbott Elementary,” Quinta Brunson said, “I kind of like the gender-neutral thing, it’s kind of tight.”

Nathan Fielder
Nathan Fielder, of “The Rehearsal,” at the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The award show was preceded by a cocktail reception where filmmakers, journalists, executives, some of the not-so-famous nominees and assorted folks who make the independent film world turn hung out in a converted parking lot sipping Bulleit Bourbon cocktails as the sun played peek-a-boo behind an overcast sky.

Leaders from the Sundance Film Festival mingled alongside representatives from smaller regional fests. Publicists compared their chunky loafers as topics of overheard conversation veered from whether this all feels normal yet to kids in college, health and wellness, politics, and a sense of confusion and anxiety over the future of film and television.

The actor dishes about Italian excursions with her co-stars, being ‘suspicious’ of Marvel and why series creator Mike White is like the ‘Pied Piper.’

Nov. 27, 2022

Sheryl Lee Ralph
“Abbott Elementary” actress Sheryl Lee Ralph at the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

As she stepped off the red carpet into the reception area, filmmaker Nikyatu Jusu, who won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2022 for her film “Nanny” and would go on to win the Someone To Watch award Saturday, explained what it meant to be recognized by the Spirit Awards.

“I feel like this is a family reunion of people who were snubbed by some of the bigger platforms,” Jusu said, noting filmmakers such as Ellie Foumbi for “Our Father, the Devil” and Charlotte Wells for “Aftersun.” “These are truly my tribe.”


“The Spirit Awards are special because it’s a celebration of a lot of sheer willpower — of getting s— made,” said Andrew Ahn, director of rom-com “Fire Island,” whose writer-star Joel Kim Booster was nominated for first screenplay.

Andrew Ahn
“The Spirit Awards are special because it’s a celebration of a lot of sheer willpower — of getting s— made,” said Andrew Ahn, director of rom-com “Fire Island.”
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Ahn’s debut feature, “Spa Night,” won the John Cassavetes Award at the Spirits in 2017. “This was the first place that really acknowledged ‘Spa Night’ and got me into a headspace where I thought, ‘I think I can make it as a filmmaker.’”

Before the show, Josh Welsh, president of Film Independent, which put on the show, addressed the overlap (or lack thereof) between Spirit Awards and Academy Awards winners.

“There are certain films when it lines up where you go, ‘This is a film that speaks to the culture today and it’s being recognized by every awards show and it’s really galvanized the moment,’” Welsh said.

“What I love about the Spirit Awards is the breadth of our nominations, from films like ‘Everything Everywhere’ and ‘Tár,’ which are being recognized everywhere, and we also have these films that have less high of a profile or less visibility,” Welsh added. “And if some of them show up at the Oscars, more power to them.”

Gabrielle Union
Gabrielle Union, nominated for best supporting performance in “The Inspection,” at the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Read the full list of winners below:

To commemorate next year’s 40th edition of the Sundance Film Festival, we’re spending 12 months looking at the lives of 7 members of this year’s class.

Aug. 9, 2023

Best Feature

“Bones and All”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” | WINNER
“Our Father, the Devil”
“Women Talking”

Best Lead Performance

Cate Blanchett, “Tár”
Dale Dickey, “A Love Song”
Mia Goth, “Pearl”
Regina Hall, “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul”
Paul Mescal, “Aftersun”
Aubrey Plaza, “Emily the Criminal”
Jeremy Pope, “The Inspection”
Andrea Riseborough, “To Leslie”
Taylor Russell, “Bones and All”
Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” | WINNER

Best Supporting Performance

Jamie Lee Curtis, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
Brian Tyree Henry, “Causeway”
Nina Hoss, “Tár”
Brian d’Arcy James, “The Cathedral”
Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” | WINNER
Trevante Rhodes, “Bruiser”
Theo Rossi, “Emily the Criminal”
Mark Rylance, “Bones and All”
Jonathan Tucker, “Palm Trees and Power Lines”
Gabrielle Union, “The Inspection”

Best Director

Todd Field, “Tár”
Kogonada, “After Yang”
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” | WINNER
Sarah Polley, “Women Talking”
Halina Reijn, “Bodies Bodies Bodies”

Best Screenplay

Lena Dunham, “Catherine Called Birdy”
Todd Field, “Tár”
Kogonada, “After Yang”
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” | WINNER
Sarah Polley, “Women Talking”

Best Documentary Feature

“All That Breathes”
“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” | WINNER
“A House Made of Splinters”
“Riotsville, U.S.A.”

Best International Film

“Corsage” (Austria/Belgium/England/France/Italy/Luxembourg)
“Joyland” (Pakistan/USA) | WINNER
“Leonor Will Never Die” (Philippines)
“Return to Seoul” (Belgium/France/Romania/South Korea)
“Saint Omer” (France)

Best Cinematography

Florian Hoffmeister, “Tár” | WINNER
Hélène Louvart, “Murina”
Gregory Oke “Aftersun”
Eliot Rockett, “Pearl”
Anisia Uzeyman, “Neptune Frost”

Best Editing

Dean Fleischer Camp and Nick Paley, “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”
Ricky D’Ambrose, “The Cathedral”
Blair McClendon, “Aftersun”
Paul Rogers, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” | WINNER
Monika Willi, “Tár”

Best First Feature

“Aftersun” | WINNER
“Emily the Criminal”
“The Inspection”
“Palm Trees and Power Lines”

Best Breakthrough Performance

Frankie Corio, “Aftersun”
Gracija Filipović, “Murina”
Stephanie Hsu, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” | WINNER
Lily McInerny, “Palm Trees and Power Lines”
Daniel Zolghadri, “Funny Pages”

Best First Screenplay

Joel Kim Booster, “Fire Island”
Jamie Dack and Audrey Findlay, story by Jamie Dack, “Palm Trees and Power Lines”
K.D. Dávila, “Emergency”
Sarah DeLappe, story by Kristen Roupenian, “Bodies Bodies Bodies”
John Patton Ford, “Emily the Criminal” | WINNER

Best New Scripted Series

“The Bear” (FX on Hulu) | WINNER
“Pachinko” (Apple TV+)
“The Porter” (BET+ / CBC Television)
“Severance” (Apple TV+)
“Station Eleven” (HBO Max)

Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series

“Children of the Underground” (FX)
“Mind Over Murder” (HBO)
“Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?” (Netflix)
“The Rehearsal” (HBO) | WINNER
“We Need to Talk About Cosby” (Showtime)

Best Lead Performance in a New Scripted Series

Aml Ameen, “The Porter” (BET+ / CBC Television)
Mohammed Amer, “Mo” (Netflix)
Quinta Brunson, “Abbott Elementary” (ABC) | WINNER
Bridget Everett, “Somebody Somewhere” (HBO Max)
KaMillion, “Rap S—” (HBO Max)
Melanie Lynskey, “Yellowjackets” (Showtime)
Himesh Patel, “Station Eleven” (HBO Max)
Sue Ann Pien, “As We See It” (Prime Video)
Adam Scott, “Severance” (Apple TV+)
Ben Whishaw, “This Is Going to Hurt” (AMC+ / BBC One)

Best Supporting Performance in a New Scripted Series

Danielle Deadwyler, “Station Eleven” (HBO Max)
Ayo Edebiri, “The Bear” (FX on Hulu) | WINNER
Jeff Hiller, “Somebody Somewhere” (HBO Max)
Gbemisola Ikumelo, “A League of Their Own” (Prime Video)
Janelle James, “Abbott Elementary” (ABC)
Ebon Moss-Bachrach, “The Bear” (FX on Hulu)
Frankie Quiñones, “This Fool” (Hulu)
Sheryl Lee Ralph, “Abbott Elementary” (ABC)
Molly Shannon, “I Love That for You” (Showtime)
Tramell Tillman, “Severance” (Apple TV+)

Best Ensemble Cast in a New Scripted Series

“Pachinko” – Soji Arai, Jin Ha, Inji Jeong, Minha Kim, Kaho Minami, Lee Minho, Steve Sanghyun Noh, Anna Sawai, Jimmi Simpson and Yuh-jung Youn | WINNER

Robert Altman Award

“Women Talking” – Sarah Polley (director), John Buchan (casting director), Jason Knight (casting director), Shayla Brown, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Kira Guloien, Kate Hallett, Judith Ivey, Rooney Mara, Sheila McCarthy, Frances McDormand, Michelle McLeod, Liv McNeil, Ben Whishaw and August Winter | WINNER

John Cassavetes Award

“The African Desperate”
“The Cathedral” | WINNER
“Holy Emy”
“A Love Song”
“Something in the Dirt”

Truer Than Fiction Award

Isabel Castro, “Mija”
Reid Davenport, “I Didn’t See You There” | WINNER
Rebeca Huntt, “Beba”

Someone To Watch Award

Adamma Ebo, “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.”
Nikyatu Jusu, “Nanny” | WINNER
Araceli Lemos, “Holy Emy”

Producers Award

Liz Cardenas
Tory Lenosky | WINNER
David Grove Churchill Viste