SANTA MONICA, Calif. - The beach sun shone brightly on Silver Linings Playbook at the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday.
The David O. Russell-directed drama led the field, taking four major awards including the top prize, best feature, topping the heavily favored Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Russell also won for best director and best screenplay, while Jennifer Lawrence took the award for best actress. Beasts took one award, best cinematography, at the awards programs for independent films set in a giant tent on Santa Monica Beach.
"This is unexpected," Silver Linings producer Donna Gigliotti said while accepting the best-feature award. "Beasts of the Southern Wild is a fantastic film. I really thought it was going to win."
Russell seemed to be surprised when he took to the podium to accept the directing award over Beasts director Benh Zeitlin.
"Benh Zeitlin is a young man," said Russell from the podium. "So Benh Zeitlin will be back."
Russell went on to praise his cast and take in the moment. Silver Linings Playbook is nominated for eight Oscars on Sunday, including best picture.
"It's just overwhelming, frankly," he said backstage, holding both Indie Spirits awards. "I never expect it. I never prepare for it."
Jennifer Lawrence, who is favored to win best actress on Sunday, said from the stage that she loves shooting independent films, even if it means filming into the cold nights.
"That's why I do what I do. I love that feeling. I mean, I'd rather be warm," Lawrence said.
The Sessions was another big winner. John Hawkes took best actor for the role as a polio survivor trying to lose his virginity, and Helen Hunt won for best supporting actress playing the surrogate who helps him achieve his goal.
Hunt is nominated for an Oscar on Sunday, but declined to talk about the upcoming ceremony. But the actress, 49, said backstage she will not be taking her clothes off again in a movie.
"I'm not taking them off again. That was it. But it worked out," said Hunt. "This is fantastic. I'm so proud of the movie. I'm beaming."
Matthew McConaughey took the prize for best supporting actor for Magic Mike. McConaughey pranced to the stage, singing a new version of his song from the male stripper movie, Ladies of Tampa.
"I had to take my pants off to win trophies," sang McConaughey from stage. "I had to drop my drawers off to win an award."
Michael Haneke, the Academy Award-nominated director of Amour, accepted the award for best international film.
"My impression is that this is given by a younger audience, that is important for a film like mine that deals with such a serious theme," said Haneke, 70, backstage. "In a society like ours that is aging, it is important to make films that deal with such a subject and treat it seriously."
Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg hosted the event, and immediately noted the difference between the Independent Spirit Awards and Sunday's Oscars.
"Welcome to the only award show watched by more people in person than on TV," said Samberg.
The show airs Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on IFC.