Film Independent’s Spirit Awards set up tents on a cold, windy beach on Saturday afternoon to cuss and honor indie flicks. “It’s great to be back where we belong,” Mark Ruffalo said. “Picnicking on the beach in a tent and freezing.” Joel McHale did a superfine job as host and got some back pats from Jon Hamm right before going onstage. “Today you’ll see diverse people from Eagle Rock and Los Feliz mingling together,” joked McHale to the shivering crowd. My favorite bit was the “In Memoriam” section with a twist that predicted who wouldn’t make it until next year. Celebs were singled out, and when the camera rested on Jesse Eisenberg, the caption read, “Murdered by Michael Cera.” Black Swan took the Best Picture prize and scarf-clad director Darren Aronofsky was all smiles about the few who invested in his picture: “Everyone was like, ‘You’ll never make money.’ Now they are fucking rich.” Celebs and journalists warmed up in Elle’s green room (the mag has been a longtime sponsor of the awards). A gal straight out of one of the mag’s layouts spun tunes, while everyone warmed their hands on latte cups and tried to lift the hefty March issue. Ewan McGregor wandered into the press cantina—but wandered out just as quickly. Rainn Wilson was chatty, and it was wonderful to see James Franco win Best Male Lead for 127 Hours. Franco then went on the next day to his Academy Award hosting duties with Anne Hathaway (Franco was just OK—I got a little tired of the “too cool for school” bit). After the show, Hathaway changed frocks yet again before heading to the Governor’s Ball with a glass of Moet in hand. There was plenty more of the bubbly stuff inside, and Jeff Bridges was in a dancing mood. He warmed up the dance floor first with his daughter, then posed for snaps with True Grit costar Hailee Steinfeld before leading his wife out for a dance. I stayed way too late, taking the shuttle back with a bunch of fellas in uniform covering the event for the Armed Forces Network and its publications. One had fired off a question to Natalie Portman backstage. “I’m more nervous talking to you than being in Iraq,” he joked. Let’s hope this year's movies are as good as last's.
Film Independent photos courtesy Wireimage; Governor’s Ball photos courtesy Matt Petit/A.M.P.A.S.