Year after year, the Film Independent Spirit Awards is one of the least watched awards show ever done; it is also by a fair margin, one of the most entertaining, although this years Golden Globes did give it a run for its money. Part of it comes from the fact that the audience is smaller and heavily drinks; part of it is because it airs on the Independent Film Channel, and therefore the presenters, hosts, and recipients can say whatever they want without fear of getting bleeped out or being played off (no band). But most of it is because it never takes itself too seriously. This is where people will gladly make fun of every bit of pretension Hollywood demonstrates. This was perhaps most clearly indicated in the delightful opening monologue by this years hosts Andy Samberg (he also starred in Best First Film nominee Celeste and Jesse Forever) with "F--- You, Hollywood!" and then going to great lengths to honor all of the big name actors who were nominated --- Bruce Willis for Moonrise Kingdom, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook, and Matthew McConaughey, a double nominee for Bernie & Magic Mike.
There's also the general fact that, by and large, the nominated films are frequently more interesting than the one the Academy does (though this has changed since the Oscar expanded the number of nominees for Best Pictures) and it also gives recognition to other films that for various reasons that might fly under the radar. Examples include Your Sister's Sister,, Moonrise Kingdom, Compliance and Bernie. Here fledgling filmmakers are introduced, and special recognition is given to those who make a film for under half a million dollars. And unlike the Oscars, comedies have frequently been nominated and win Best Film. Such was the case this year when the big victor was Silver Linings Playbook, which captured four awards: Best Feature, Best Female Lead for Jennifer Lawrence, and Best Director and Best Screenplay for David O. Russell, a veteran of these shows since Spanking the Monkey. Bradley Cooper did not triumph for Best Male Lead losing to John Hawkes for The Sessions. (Hawkes triumphed two years ago for Best Supporting Male when he appeared in Winter's Bone.) Helen Hunt prevailed in the Supporting Female for the same film, while McConaughey triumphed for Magic Mike. Best First Film went to The Perks of Being A Wallflower, while Best First Screenplay went to Safety Not Guaranteed. Best Foreign Film went to Amour.
The Spirits always manage to be alive and energetic, and so even the scripted bit have a spark of creativity the other awards shows do not. This included McConaughey going into an amusing bit about his mother's role in Bernie, a very amusing parody of almost every nominated film done by Samberg on Skype, and a wonderful sequence in which a bit from Beasts of the Southern Wild was given a huge lampoon by Samberg, Jack Black and Jack McBrayer. The most precious moment was a close of Quvenzhane Willis looking absolutely baffled. Don't worry, Hushpuppy, in a few years, the wit of it will dawn.