Tiger Takes 3 Spirit Awards

ByABC News
March 26, 2001, 7:38 PM

March 24 -- "I'm surprised we didn't get into the foreign film category," Ang Lee joked after winning both Best Feature and Best Director at Saturday's Independent Spirit Awards. The somewhat-dazed Taiwan-born director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon says he's stopped counting how many awards he's racked up for his crossover Chinese epic.

At Saturday's beachside ceremony in Santa Monica, Calif., many of the winners, including Lee and actors Javier Bardem, Ellen Burstyn, and Willem Dafoe, were also some of those in contention for Oscars the next day, and each was asked to ponder how a win at the Spirit Awards would translate to the Oscars if at all.

Tiger's co-screenwriter and co-executive producer, James Schamus, could only answer, "We get sucked into this whole high-school thing with [these awards] and the Oscars. [I told Lee], 'We don't know you won and we don't know you lost, which is tough even for us adults [to bear].'"

Lee, who's up for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Foreign Language Film Oscars, says he's been asked whether he describes himself as a Chinese, a Hollywood, or an independent filmmaker to which he usually answers, "I'm a New York filmmaker, I think that covers it all." After pointing out that a foreign film at the Spirit Awards does have a precedent (his own Wedding Banquet received six nominations in 1993), he added that he will "always" make films in China although he plans to "rest" by making an American film next.

Bardem, Burstyn Take Top Acting AwardsLast year the Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards concurred on Best Actress (Boys Don't Cry's Hilary Swank), and, however unlikely, they could synch up again this year in three key categories: female lead, male lead, and supporting male actor.

Spaniard Javier Bardem picked up a Best Male Lead Spirit Award for playing persecuted Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas in the impressionist biopic Before Night Falls, and Ellen Burstyn won the Female Lead category as a drug-addicted senior citizen in the grim tour de force Requiem for a Dream.