“Million Dollar Baby” may have been the big winner at Sunday’s Oscars, but the wine-country ramble “Sideways” dominated Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards, winning best picture and five other prizes, including acting honors for Paul Giamatti, Virginia Madsen and Thomas Haden Church.
Alexander Payne won the directing honor for “Sideways,” while he and writing partner Jim Taylor shared the screenplay award at the ceremony, which honors films at least partly financed outside the Hollywood studio system.
Catalina Sandino Moreno won best actress for “Maria Full of Grace,” in which she plays a Colombian woman thrust into danger when she signs on to smuggle heroin into the United States.
“Garden State” – a romantic comedy written and directed by Zach Braff, who also stars – was honored as best picture by a first-time filmmaker.
Winners were chosen by the 9,000-member nonprofit Independent Feature Project/Los Angeles, which includes actors, directors, writers and other industry professionals.
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