Spirit Awards Fri 4.10.2020

Where to Watch Every Spirit Award Best Feature Winner Since 1986

Flashback Fridays. Throwback Thursdays. Anterior-Times Tuesdays. Frankly, we don’t need an excuse to wistfully recall the 35th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards—which of course took place three months (and one global pandemic) ago on February 8, 2020. And thanks to several weeks of responsible stay-at-home self-quarantining, you’ve certainly had a chance to finally catch up with whichever of this year’s nominees and winners you may have previously missed.

But revisiting titles such as Lulu Wang’s all-conquering The Farewell has got us thinking—what other Film Independent Spirit Award Best Feature titles might be available out there to watch during all these long weeks cooped up indoors? The answers, as it turns out, is a lot. And guess what? We’ve done the legwork of figuring out where they might be so you don’t have to. What service!

And to compliment to this supersized, 35-film Best Feature winners watchlist, we’ve decided to do something we’ve never done before: make entire full-length archival recordings of old Spirit Award ceremonies available to watch—for free— on Film Independent’s YouTube channel. So take a trip down memory lane…

But the Spirit Awards aren’t just an irreverent celebration of the year’s best indie film achievements. They’re also a key fundraiser for everything Film Independent does year-round, from or artist development labs and filmmaker resources, to educational events, international programs, screenings and special events.

And if you want to help support us and all that we do to help support visual storytellers worldwide, now’s the time. For a limited time through April 30, all donations received will be doubled, up to $80,000, thanks to a generous Film Independent Board Members and Friends Matching Gift.

In the meantime, here’s where you can find every Spirit Award Best Feature winner since 1986. (Note: we used justwatch.com as our source, though in most cases titles are available for paid rental on most platforms, including iTunes.)



Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Written by: Joseph Minion

Producers: Robert F. Colesberry, Griffin Dunne, Amy Robinson

Starring: Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette, Verna Bloom, Teri Garr

Logline: An ordinary word processor has the worst night of his life after he agrees to visit a girl in Soho who he met that evening at a coffee shop.

Watch if you like: Booksmart (2019), Good Time (2017), Spring Breakers (2012)

Where to watch: Cinemax, Max Go


PLATOON (1986)

Written & Directed by: Oliver Stone

Producer: Arnold Kopelson

Starring: Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger

Logline: A young soldier in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man.

Watch if you like: Beasts of No Nation (2015), Three Kings (1999), Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime, YouTube (free with ads), Showtime, Direct TV, Fubo TV



Directed by: Tim Hunter

Written by: Neal Jimenez

Producers: Sarah Pillsbury, Midge Sanford

Starring: Crispin Glover, Keanu Reeves, Ione Skye, Dennis Hopper

Logline: A high school slacker commits a shocking act and proceeds to let his friends in on the secret. However, the friends’ reaction is almost as ambiguous and perplexing as the crime itself.

Watch if you like: In the Bedroom (2001), Heathers (1988), Blue Velvet (1986)

Where to watch: HBO Now, HBO Go, Direct TV, Cinemax



Directed by: Ramón Menéndez

Written by: Ramón Menéndez, Tom Musca

Producers: Tom Musca

Starring: Edward James Olmos, Lou Diamond Phillips, Rosanna DeSoto

Logline: The story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher who successfully inspired his dropout prone students to learn calculus.

Watch if you like: Hidden Figures (2016), Creed (2015), Half Nelson (2006)

Where to watch: Starz



Written & directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Produced by: John Hardy

Starring: James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Laura San Giacomo, Peter Gallagher

Logline: A sexually repressed woman’s husband is having an affair with her sister. The arrival of a visitor with a rather unusual fetish changes everything.

Watch if you like: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019), Secretary (2002), Chasing Amy (1997)

Where to watch: Available for purchase (all platforms)



Directed by: Stephen Frears

Written by: Donald E. Westlake (screenplay), Jim Thompson (novel)

Producers: Robert A. Harris, Jim Painter, Martin Scorsese

Starring: Anjelica Huston, John Cusack, Annette Bening

Logline: A small-time conman has torn loyalties between his estranged mother and new girlfriend, both of whom are high-stakes grifters with their own angles to play.

Watch if you like: Logan Lucky (2017), American Hustle (2013), Grosse Point Blank (1997)

Where to watch: Hoopla, The Criterion Channel



Directed by: Martha Coolidge

Written by: Calder Willingham

Produced by: Renny Harlin

Starring: Laura Dern, Robert Duvall, Diane Ladd

Logline: A young woman who exudes sexuality battles temptation.

Watch if you like: Never Goin’ Back (2018), Wild (2014), Valley Girl (1983)

Where to watch: Apple TV (for purchase only)



Directed by: Robert Altman

Written by: Michael Tolkin

Producers: David Brow, Michael Tolkin, Nich Wechsler

Starring: Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi, Peter Gallagher, Whoopi Goldberg, Vincent D’Onofrio

Logline: A Hollywood studio executive is being sent death threats by a writer whose script he rejected… but which one?

Watch if you like: Adaptation (2002), L.A. Story (1991), Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Where to watch: The Criterion Channel



Written and directed by: Robert Altman

Produced by:

Starring: Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davidson, Jack Lemmon, Julianne Moore, Matthew Modine, Anne Archer, Fred Ward, Chris Penn, Robert Downey Jr.

Logline: The day-to-day lives of several suburban Los Angeles residents.

Watch if you like: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2016), Crash (2004), Gosford Park (2001)

Where to watch: DVD (not currently streaming)



Written and directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Produced by: Lawrence Bender

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames

Logline: The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster and his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

Watch if you like: Baby Driver (2017), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), Goodfellas (1992)

Where to watch: Starz



Written and directed by: Mike Figgis

Produced by: Lila Cazès

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Elisabeth Shue

Logline: Ben Sanderson, a Hollywood screenwriter who lost everything because of his alcoholism, arrives in Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he meets and forms and uneasy friendship and non-interference pact with sex worker Sara.

Watch if you like: The Souvenir (2019), Smashed (2012), Trainspotting (1996)

Where to watch: The Roku Channel (free with ads), Hoopla, Vudu (ads), Pluto TV (ads)


FARGO (1997)

Written and directed by: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Produced by: Rob Carliner

Starring: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi

Logline: Jerry Lundegaard’s inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen’s bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.

Watch if you like: Parasite (2019), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), The Big Lebowski (1998)

Where to watch: Starz



Written and directed by: Robert Duvall

Producer: Rob Carliner

Starring: Robert Duvall, Todd Allen, Paul Bagget

Logline: After his happy life spins out of control, a preacher from Texas changes his name, goes to Louisiana and starts preaching on the radio.

Watch if you like: Green Book (2018), Mudbound (2017), Sling Blade (1996)

Where to watch: Starz, Direct TV



Written and directed by: Bill Condon

Producers: Paul Colichman, Gregg Fienberg, Mark R. Harris

Starring: Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave

Logline: The last days of Frankenstein director James Whale are explored.

Watch if you like: The Artist (2011), Shadow of the Vampire (2000), Barton Fink (1991),

Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Hulu



Directed by: Alexander Payne

Written by: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor

Producers: Albert Berger, Keith Samples, Ron Yerxa

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Matthew Broderick, Chris Klein

Logline: A high school teacher’s personal life becomes complicated as he works with students during the school elections, particularly with an obsessive overachiever to become student body president.

Watch if you like: Booksmart (2019), Lady Bird (2017), Juno (2007)

Where to watch: Showtime, Direct TV, Fubo TV



Directed by: Ang Lee

Written by: Hui-Ling Wang, James Schamus, Kuo Jung Tsai

Producers: Li-Kong Hsu, William Kong, Ang Lee

Starring: Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang

Logline: A young Chinese warrior steals a sword from a famed swordsman and then escapes into a world of romantic adventure with a mysterious man in the frontier of the nation.

Watch if you like: The Handmaiden (2016), In the Mood for Love (2000), Rumble in the Bronx (1995)

Where to watch: Netflix


MEMENTO (2002)

Written and directed by: Christopher Nolan

Producers: Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd

Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

Logline: A man with short-term memory loss attempts to track down his wife’s murderer.

Watch if you like: Prisoners (2013), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Where to watch: IMDb TV, The Roku Channel, Hoopla, Tubi, Kanopy



Written and directed by: Todd Haynes

Producer: Jody Patton

Starring: Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert

Logline: In 1950s Connecticut, a housewife faces a marital crisis and mounting racial tensions in the outside world.

Watch if you like: Little Women (2019), Carol (2015), Brooklyn (2015)

Where to watch: Starz, Direct TV



Written and directed by: Sofia Coppola

Producers: Sofia Coppola, Ross Katz

Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi

Logline: A faded movie star and a neglected young woman form an unlikely bond after crossing paths in Tokyo.

Watch if you like: Silver Linings Playbook (2012), (500) Days of Summer (2009), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Where to watch: Starz, Direct TV



Written and directed by: Alexander Payne

Producer: Michael London

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Hayden Church, Virginia Madsen

Logline: Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment embark on a week-long road trip through California’s wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle.

Watch if you like: Support the Girls (2018), Bridesmaids (2011), Swingers (1996)

Where to watch: Starz



Directed by: Ang Lee

Written by: Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana

Producers: Diana Ossana, James Schamus

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway

Logline: The story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, and their lives over the years.

Watch if you like: Call Me by Your Name (2017), Manchester by the Sea (2016), Boyhood (2014)

Where to watch: Starz



Directed by: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Written by: Michael Arndt

Producer: Albert Berger, David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Ron Yerxa

Starring: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano

Logline: A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.

Watch if you like: Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), Lost In America (1985)

Where to watch: Starz


JUNO (2008)

Directed by: Jason Reitman

Written by: Diablo Cody

Producer: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Mason Novick, Russell Smith

Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman

Logline: Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.

Watch if you like: The Farewell (2019), Young Adult (2011), Knocked Up (2007),

Where to watch: Fubo TV



Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Written by: Robert Siegel

Producers: Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin

Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

Logline: A faded professional wrestler must retire, but finds his quest for a new life outside the ring a dispiriting struggle.

Watch if you like: Creed (2015), Black Swan (2010), Raging Bull (1980)

Where to watch: Starz



Directed by: Lee Daniels

Produced by:

Written by: Geoffrey Fletcher

Starring: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton

Logline: In New York City’s Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

Watch if you like: Moonlight (2016), Fruitvale Station (2013), Breaking the Waves (1996)

Where to watch: Rental, all major platforms



Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Written by: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz

Producer: Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver

Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel

Logline: A committed dancer struggles to maintain her sanity after winning the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.”

Watch if you like: Suspiria (2018), Birdman (2014), Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Where to watch: Cinemax, HBO Now



Written and directed by: Michel Hazanavicius

Producer: Thomas Langmann

Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, Missi Pyle

Logline: An egomaniacal film star develops a relationship with a young dancer against the backdrop of Hollywood’s silent era.

Watch if you like: La La Land (2016), Hail Caesar! (2016), Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Where to watch: The Roku Channel, Vudu



Written and directed by: David O. Russell

Producer: Bruce Cohen, Donna Gigliotti, Jonathan Gordon

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

Logline: After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

Watch if you like: A Star is Born (2018), Frances Ha (2012), You Can Count on Me (2000)

Where to watch: Netflix, USA


12 YEARS A SLAVE (2014)

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Written by: John Ridley

Producers: Dede Gardner, Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Brad Pitt, Bill Pohland

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael Fassbender

Logline: In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Watch if you like: Spotlight (2015), Django Unchained (2012), Malcolm X (1992)

Where to watch: Rental, all platforms


BIRDMAN (2015)

Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Written by: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo

Produced by: Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole

Starring: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone

Logline: A washed-up superhero actor attempts to revive his fading career by writing, directing and starring in a Broadway production.

Watch if you like: Victoria (2015), Enter the Void (2009), Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Where to watch: Rental, all platforms



Directed by: Tom McCarthy

Written by: Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy

Producers: Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Michael Sugar

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams

Logline: The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

Watch if you like: The Post (2017), The Wire (2002-2008), All the President’s Men (1976)

Where to watch: Showtime, IMDb TV



Directed by: Barry Jenkins

Written by: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney

Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski

Starring: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes

Logline: A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood.

Watch if you like: We the Animals (2018), George Washington (2000), Killer of Sheep (1977)

Where to watch: Netflix, Kanopy


GET OUT (2018)

Written and directed by: Jordan Peele

Producers: Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr., Sean McKittrick, Jordan Peele

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener

Logline: A young African-American visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point.

Watch if you like: Us (2019), Hereditary (2018), Carrie (1976)

Where to watch: Rental, all platforms



Written and directed by: Barry Jenkins

Producers: Dede Gardner, Barry Jenkins, Jeremy Kleiner, Sara Murphy, Adele Romanski

Starring: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King

Logline: A young woman embraces her pregnancy while she and her family set out to prove her childhood friend and lover innocent of a crime he didn’t commit.

Watch if you like: Roma (2018), Manchester by the Sea (2016), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Where to watch: Hulu



Written and directed by: Lulu Wang

Producers: Anita Gou, Daniele Tate Melia, Andrew Miano, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Lulu Wang, Chris Weitz, Jane Zheng

Starring: Shuzhen Zhao, Awkwafina, X Mayo, Hong Lu, Hong Lin

Logline: A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies.

Watch if you like: Marriage Story (2019), Lady Bird (2019), Garden State (2004)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime


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