If the Oscars is the sedate dinner party where guests are replaced when they get up to visit the powder room, the Independent Spirit Awards is the unwieldy one where everyone gets crowded in the kitchen, or a bloody great tent, in actual fact.
Said enormous tent is on Santa Monica beach, just along from the legendary pier, and the meandering ceremony, bands playing, guests queuing up for the loos in portakabins, is a chance for all those cinema luminaries who’ve rocked up to LA for the Oscars the following day to let their hair down and chill for a bit.
This year's event saw Seth Rogen at the helm for his debut at hosting an awards event and, my goodness, he's a natural. His hurdy-gurdy voice made his patter ever-entertaining, but he wasn't scared to push it to the line. Highlights included the noted absence of Lars Von Trier - "gone to Argentina" - and how this was a less forgiving ceremony than the Grammys, so nobody would "beat up a fellow nominee and still be asked to sing twice".
But he also poked fun at awards season itself, for how it "gives everyone a chance to express how much they admire each other’s work", to learn how well Brad Pitt and George Clooney get on, to see what a bigot Brett Ratner is.
And he made the customary trip through the leading films of the season, wondering why The Artist was doing so well - "didn't we invent the foreign film category to avoid this?" - and lots of inevitable sniggersome comments about Michael Fassbender's supporting role - need I say more?
Rogen's laid-back tone was perfect for the arena, one with guests continually putting down their forks to have a wander and another
At one point, I overheard one, now successful, young actress go up to William H Macy and thank him for "sitting next to me on a plane four years ago, and giving me all the advice and wisdom you had, and it's all worked out".
He was charm itself, gave her a big hug and replied, "let's make a movie together."
So that's how it happens, I always wondered.
PHOTOS FROM THE SPIRIT AWARDS:
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