Juno soars at Independent Spirit Awards
Teen-pregnancy comedy Juno dominated the Independent Spirit Awards by taking three trophies, including best picture and the lead actress prize for Canadian Ellen Page.
The film, directed by Montreal-born Jason Reitman, also garnered a first-time screenplay honour for Diablo Cody at the awards, which honour the best in independent filmmaking.
Halifax actress Page landed on top of a heap of Hollywood heavyweights — including Angelina Jolie and Parker Posey — for her portrayal as a spirited 16-year-old who becomes pregnant through her best friend and decides to give her baby away.
Page, who has said she feels "numb" by all the attention she's getting for the role, honoured Cody in her acceptance speech.
"This is all Diablo Cody's fault. She wrote one of the best screenplays I have ever read," said the 21-year-old at the low-key ceremony Saturday afternoon on the beach in Santa Monica, Calif.
"I got to work with some amazing actors who all poured their hearts into this film because we all believed in it so much."
Reitman, who lost in the best director category to Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, was visibly moved as Page went on to praise him.
All three — Page, Reitman and Cody — are up for Oscars in their respective fields on Sunday night. Cody said she's just grateful.
"Having your film get made is your reward," said the 29-year-old writer, whose script for Juno was her first screenplay. "That alone is the miracle, so to get an award is beyond imaginable. It's so cool."
Other winners included a pregnant Cate Blanchett, who won the best supporting actress award for her role in the Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There.
She dedicated her award to co-star Heath Ledger, who died following an accidental drug overdose last month. To "one of the most beautiful independent spirits of all, Heath Ledger," Blanchett said. "This is for him."
First Altman award
Blanchett beat out the likes of Canadian Tamara Podemski, who was nominated for best supporting actress for her work on the film Four Sheets to the Wind. She won a special jury prize for acting at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival for the role.
I'm Not There also took the first ever Robert Altman Award — named after director Robert Altman, who died in 2006 — for a filmmaker, casting director and acting ensemble.
"I have no doubt [Heath Ledger] would have made an astounding director," director Todd Haynes said in his acceptance speech.
Philip Seymour Hoffman walked away with the best actor trophy for The Savages, which also garnered a best screenplay prize for Tamara Jenkins. Hoffman is nominated in the same category at the Oscars, but for another role, in Charlie Wilson's War.
Chiwetel Ejiofor won for best supporting male for Talk to Me while The Lookout, directed by Scott Frank, captured best first feature film.
The best foreign film award went to low-budget Irish film Once, starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglov.
Toronto' s Jennifer Baichwal lost out in the documentary category to Crazy Love. Her film, Manufactured Landscapes, had won a Genie.