For comedian Hasan Minhaj, the Film Independent Spirit Awards is the ideal hosting gig.
“Low pressure. Low downside. All upside,” Minhaj said. “That’s the sweet spot for me.”
Set for Saturday, it’ll be one of the last movie award stops before the big Oscar night for many of this year’s top nominees including 'Everything Everywhere All at Once', which has a leading eight nominations including best feature, best director, best lead actor for Michelle Yeoh, supporting actors Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis and breakthrough for Stephanie Hsu.
There are plenty of Oscar nominees in the bunch: Cate Blanchett and director Todd Field for ‘Tár’, Paul Mescal for ‘Aftersun’, Andrea Riseborough for ‘To Leslie’, Brian Tyree Henry for ‘Causeway’ and Sarah Polley for ‘Women Talking’ among them. But the Spirit Awards also go beyond the typical awards season fare, recognising great performances and work in smaller films like ‘The Inspection’, ‘Emily the Criminal’, ‘Pearl’ and ‘Palm Trees and Power Lines’. And there are no ‘Avatars’ or ‘Top Guns’ here — the budget cap for eligibility is $30 million.
The show also honors television with nominees including ‘The Bear’, ‘Severance’, ‘Station Eleven’ and actors like Quinta Brunson (‘Abbott Elementary’), Melanie Lynskey (‘Yellowjackets’), Mohammed Amer (‘Mo’) and Aml Ameen (‘The Porter’).
Minhaj, known for his Peabody Award-winning show ‘Patriot Act’, stand-up specials like ‘Homecoming King’ and his work on ‘The Daily Show’, is excited to join the ranks of recent previous hosts like Aubrey Plaza, John Mulaney and Nick Kroll and last year’s Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally.
“I just love how fun and irreverent the show can be,” he said. “Even the people that are attending, they’re down to do bits and that part of it is really fun and cool.”
Minhaj is no stranger to the terror of the room with a bad vibe. He took the podium at the 2017 White House Correspondents Dinner, after all.
“The White House Correspondents Dinner very much feels like an away game. Like going to another person’s party and hosting it,” he said. “And generally the feedback in the room is not great, whether it’s from the administration or the media outlets you’re making fun of. This gig is very different.”
He promises a lot of “cutaways” and “props” and, of course a celebration of independent film and television.
“Everyone’s kind of in on the joke. We know that we’re day drinking in a tent in Santa Monica a week before the Oscars,” Minhaj said. “It’s good vibes surrounded by incredibly talented people that aren’t taking themselves too seriously. It’s a perfect cocktail for a great show.”
The 38th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards will be streamed live on IMDb and Film Independent’s YouTube channels beginning at 5pm ET (2am Dubai time) on March 4.