Guest blogger Chris Kaltenbach's last Spirit blog, around 4:30 p.m. PST
Director Darren Aronofsky knows why audiences are responding so well to his "Black Swan."
They're having a good time watching it, says the director, whose previous films have played to much less popular acclaim.
""People are having fun seeing it," he said backstage after his film won three Spirits, including the Best Feature nod. "That's the best compliment you can get as a filmmaker. I've never gotten that one before."
One more time, around 4:20 p.m. PST
Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan," the story of a mentally unstable ballerina forced to reach within herself a bit too far, won the Best Feature Spirit.
The movie also won Spirits for Aronofsky's directing and for star Natalie Portman. And since the lights just went dark in the backstage tent here, I'm going to stop for a while...
CK again, around 4:10 p.m. PST.
Natalie Portman just won the Best Female Lead Spirit, for "Black Swan." Annette Bening, who had been nominated for "The Kids are All Right," was in the audience, not smiling broadly.
Could this be yet another portent of what will happen at the Oscars tomorrow?
You've got to feel for Bening, who has been so good for so long, yet never seems to get much love at awards time.
Me again, about 4 p.m. PST
Oops, looks like that "Winter's Bone" sweep won't be happening after all.
Darren Aronofsky just won the Best Director Spirit, defeating Debra Granik of "Winter's Bone," as well as Danny Boyle for "127 Hours," Lisa Cholodenko for "The Kids are All Right" and John Cameron Mitchell for "Rabbit Hole."
Not that Aronofksy's win is much of an upset. He's been a long-time Spirits favorite, winning multiple awards for both "Requiem for a Dream" and "The Fighter."
Something tells me my colleaugue, Michael Sragow, isn't going to like this one...
Me again, about 3:40 p.m.
John Hawkes just won the Best Supporting Male Spirit. Things are looking good for that "Winter's Bone" near-sweep.
And yes, he's up for an Oscar tomorrow.
"I was lucky enough to be from a small town, and there were a lot of people who scared me a lot," Hawkes said backstage of the inspiration for his character.
And what of all the attention he's been getting of late? "it's surreal," he said with a smile. "I've been working in relative anonymity for years, and I like that."
Hawkes did admit, however, that the extra publicity helps the movie, so he's willing to suffer..
Guest blogger Chris Kaltenbach again, about 3:30 PST
"The King's Speech" won the Spirit for Best Foreign Film. Finally, an award that won't be duplicated at the Oscars tomorrow -- where the category is Best Foreign Language Film, which lets the English-speaking "King's Speech" out.
Of course, the movie could win the Best Picture Oscar.
"I haven't made any predictions," director Tom Hooper said backstage of his (and his film's) Oscar chances.
Guest blogger Chris Kaltenbach again, about 3:10 p.m. PST
"Exit Through the Gift Shop" won for Best Documentary -- another instance of a Sprit award winner that's also up for an Oscar.
Graffiti artist and mystery man extraordinnaire Banksy didn't show up, "Tomorrow is another day, maybe he will show up. maybe he is sitting next to you," the movie's producer said backstage, leading every journalist in the room to gaze expectantly at the people around them.
If Banksy's here, he's keeping quiet.
Guest blogger Chris Kaltenbach, about 2:45 p.m. PST
James Franco just won the Best Male Lead Actor for "127 Hours." Tomorrow, he's co-hosting the Oscars, where he's up for a Best Actor Academy Award as well. Could be the beginning of a big-time weekend Franco.
Guest blogger Chris Kaltenbach here, from Santa Monica:
Dale Dickey of "Winter's Bone" won for Best Supporting Female at the 26th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards, leading what could prove a big afternoon for the little-seen but much-admired film about a young Ozark Mountain girl tracking down her drug-addled father.
"It's a real thrill to be honored by this community," said Dickey, who said she shared her award with "the women of Missouri," where the movie was shot.
"It's been a lovely lovely whirlwind, and I've just been enjoying the ride," the veteran actress said backstage after accepting the award.
"Winter's Bone" is the most nominated film at this year's Spirits, which celebrate filmmaking beyond major studio fare. Qualifying film must be at least 70 minutes long and be made for under $20 million.
"Winter's Bone" is also up for the Best Picture Oscar at tomorrow's Academy Awards, although it is given little chance of winning. But that;s just fine with the Spirits, which like to think of themselves as Oscar's feistier, edgier cousin.
The first two awards of the day, awarded shortly after the scheduled 2 p.m. start time, went to "Tiny Furniture's" Lena Dunham, for Best First Feature, and Matthew Libatique, Best Cinematographer for "Black Swan."
Libatique made some serious friends during interviews backstage, saying the Spirit was "my Academy Award."
The weather, uncharacteristically cold and windy for southern California, proved the main topic of conversation. Stars sprinted along the red carpet, anxious to get in from the cold, and presenter Mark Ruffalo joked about it before presenting the Supporting Female award.