'Precious' sweeps Spirit awards

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The Independent Culture

Gritty drama "Precious" swept the top honors at the Spirit Awards here Friday, the movie industry's annual salute to the best of independent film.

The Oscar-nominated film about an obese, illiterate, abused teenager in Harlem won four top honors, including best picture, best director, best actress and best supporting actor.

Lee Daniels - who is also nominated for best director at Sunday's 82nd Academy Awards - was overcome by emotion after collecting his award.

"Last year I was a juror at these awards and I was editing 'Precious'," Daniels told the audience. "It's a good thing, a really good thing."

The film's two female stars, Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique took the best actress and supporting actress awards.

Sidibe, who will be vying for honors in Sunday's best actress race at the Oscars, thanked her fellow cast for easing her through her debut film.

"I'm so excited. I'm kind of a dork," Sidibe said. "Thank you to my fellow actors who taught me how to act. I showed up not knowing anything."

Comedian Mo'Nique, who is the odds on favorite to repeat her victory at the Oscars on Sunday after a virtual clean sweep at earlier awards shows this year, won for her chilling portrayal of an abusive parent.

"I'm tickled," Mo'Nique said, paying tribute to the film's star Sidibe. "Gabby you are truly a special gift to the universe baby," Mo'Nique said.

Another heavy Oscars favorite, Jeff Bridges, picked up the best actor prize for his performance as an alcoholic country singer struggling to rebuild his career in "Crazy Heart."

Bridges, 60, who has already won at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards, thanked the film's writer-director Scott Cooper.

"Crazy Heart is so dear to me, it's really a gem of an independent film," Bridges said. "What makes these gems shine is passion."

The night's other main acting award, best supporting actor, went to Woody Harrelson for his portrayal of a US army officer whose job is to inform next of kin of bereavements in "The Messenger."

British movie "An Education" took best foreign film.

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