The names of the Film Independent Spirit Award arrive on January 26. In the meantime, a step back …

As a yesteryear (and no doubt problematic) television detective liked to say, “Just the facts, ma’am. Well, okay then. The facts are: the 36th independent film Spirit Prize coming soon! But not as soon as usual, thanks to the overall change in awards season from a pandemic year in Hollywood. Now everyone’s favorite celebration of independent cinema – and for the first time, TV – takes place on April 22, 2021 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT, live on IFC.

But luckily for all of you tipsters and Fantastic Prize Draft Wheel Dealers, the names of the 2021 Spirit Awards are just around the corner; coming next week in fact the Tuesday January 26—To be revealed in a special video ad premiering on Fi ‘ website and Youtube channel.

The (remote) event presenters include Laverne Cox – who in his independent film Present Questions / answers for the documentary Disclosure shouted the Spirit Awards for its pioneer recognition a trans performer – and (not to be outdone) former Spirit Award winners Barry jenkins and Olivia wilde.

While the prime-time Thursday night show on April 22 is a break from our usual Saturday afternoon live event on Santa Monica Beach, don’t worry, we’re still deeply invested in the history and tradition of the Spirit Awards.

To find out, here are six of our all-time favorite ceremonies for the Film Independent Spirit Awards, available in our full archive on YouTube (you guessed it). Check them out below and come back – more classic shows updated this week!


Watch him for: Besides the Fuse A beautiful scenography (and very cold) and rear projection images from Technical Group? Well our most recent Spirit Awards have been one of the loudest ever, with returning host Aubrey Plaza leading a sort of three-ring circus full of overlapping acceptance speeches, thanks Adam Sandler filled with explanations and a musical tribute to Laura Dern’s palpable and enduring gay icon status. Not to mention: Willem Dafore, Noah Baumbach, Lulu Wang and much more.


Watch him for: Another atypical Spirit Awards, hosted by Eddie Izzard and taking place at the LA Live complex in downtown Los Angeles. There were plenty of energetic moments, like Foo Fighter Dave Grohl who presented an 11-year-old live performance with the subjects of best documentary Anvil, and the exuberant newcomer Gabourey Sidibe carrying material for her. Precious to burst. But our favorite was the late Lynn Shelton’s John Cassavetes Award for Humpday.


Watch him for: Climbing high atop his Dwight Schruteness, Rainn Wilson was more than a game upon his return as host, setting out on a death-defying ride in Dennis Hopper’s convertible and Development stoppedIt’s Jason Bateman. The big winner was Juno, Elliot Page and Diablo Cody also winning awards for theater and screenwriting, respectively.


Watch him for: The Spirit Awards capped their first decade by celebrating one of the most memorable years of independent cinema in history. With Quentin Tarantino and his pulp Fiction with the cast making frequent trips to the stage, this arguably marked the Hollywood highlight of the Miramax era. Balls on Broadway and Monkey spanking were the other big winners of the day, with Fresh, Barcelona, red and The last seduction also winning awards at home.


Watch him for: The ’90s had barely begun, but the independent film financing and distribution infrastructure that would ultimately shape the decade was already in high gear by 1991, with titles such as My own private Idaho, Rambling Rose and An angel at my table claiming major trophies at the 1992 awards. Our favorite part? The long and passionate independent film State of Union by Francis Ford Coppola, which gave the 92 ceremony its centerpiece.


Watch him for: That’s where it all started – the very first Independent Spirit Awards (or awards lunch, in this case). Recommended for lovers of luscious 1980s haircuts and aggressive palm leaf decorations indoors. Oh, there are some great movies recognized here as well, including the Coen Bros. ‘start Simple blood and underrated by Martin Scorsese After hours. You’ve come a long way, baby!

Want to vote?

As always, the winners are selected by members of the Film Independent. Members must be up to date by February 11 to receive all voting benefits, including access to candidate screening officers. To join Film Independent and vote for the Spirit Awards, please visit

The Spirit Awards are the primary fundraiser for Film Independent’s annual programs, which cultivate the careers of emerging filmmakers and promote diversity and inclusion in the film industry.

Film Independent promotes unique independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new works. To support our work with a donation, please Click here. Become a member of Film Independent here.

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