Generating rave reviews from experts and audiences alike, Peele’s feature directorial debut — which cost under $5 million to produce — has raked in $255 million at theaters worldwide.
The film — a dark send-up of the African American experience and of suburban white guilt over racial inequality — follows a young black man, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), who is so nervous about meeting the family of his white girlfriend (Allison Williams) that he fails to realize the menace lurking within their mansion.
“This project didn’t start as a statement. It began as me wanting to make a film in my favorite genre,” said Peele, who also bagged best director honors.
“I sat down and I would smoke a little bit of weed and try to make a mind-bending horror film… and I realized there were a lot of people locked up for smoking less weed than I was smoking when I made the movie.”
The Film Independent Spirit Awards, an annual celebration of low-budget cinema that takes place on Santa Monica beach just outside Los Angeles, are seen as an strong indicator of movies that could strike Oscars gold.
Five of the last six best feature winners have gone on to best picture glory at the Academy Awards, including “Moonlight,” “Spotlight” and “Birdman.”
“Get Out” has four nominations for Sunday’s Oscars, including best picture and best director.
– ‘Fearless’ –
The prize for best actor went to American-French rising star Timothee Chalamet, whose acclaimed performance as a lovelorn teen in “Call Me By Your Name” has seen him win numerous awards.
Frances McDormand won best actress, her third Spirit Award, for her searing performance as a rage-filled grieving mother in Martin McDonagh’s black comedy “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
“I continue to be amazed that you let me get to the microphone. Are you crazy? One thing I know is that we are allowed to swear,” joked McDormand, a mainstay on this year’s awards circuit who is the favorite for the Oscar.
“Do you know how hard it has been not to swear for the last couple of months?” she asked, before cursing a blue streak.
Sam Rockwell won best supporting actor for “Three Billboards,” in which he plays opposite McDormand as a racist, violent police officer.
The best supporting actress prize went to Allison Janney, for playing figure skater Tonya Harding’s cold, brutal mother LaVona in Craig Gillespie’s acclaimed biopic “I, Tonya.”
“I play a lot of confused and complicated women, but not anyone this dark. I don’t think people think of me that way,” Janney said backstage.
“I guess I have to play more dark characters — that’s in my future.”
– Best screenplay for ‘Lady Bird’ –
Coming-of-age tale “Call Me by Your Name” had led the nominations going into Saturday’s event.
Set in 1980s Italy and starring Armie Hammer opposite Chalamet, it tells the story of 17-year-old Elio as he begins a relationship with his father’s American research assistant, Oliver.
The film was nominated in six categories, winning best cinematography and editing ahead of Chalamet’s triumph.
Josh and Benny Safdie’s heist thriller “Good Time” tied in second place with nods for directing, editing and three actors, including for its star Robert Pattinson — but went home empty-handed.
Greta Gerwig’s comedy “Lady Bird” — up for best picture at the Oscars — earned her a best screenplay award while real-life couple Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani took best first screenplay for “The Big Sick,” the comedy story of their romance.