The Artist looks unstoppable for Oscars glory on Sunday, after scooping up a clutch of major prizes at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, held in Santa Monica, LA, on Saturday afternoon.
Illustrating the film's rare ability to inspire both mainstream and more independent voters on both sides of the Atlantic, director Michel Hazanavicius and his team came straight from the airport - complete with police escort - from where they had been collecting six trophies at France's Oscars, the Cesars, on Friday, to collect the Best Feature honour at the annual Academy Awards eve celebration of indie movies.
Hazanavicius added to his trophy cabinet by picking up another Best Director award, making him the clear favourite to claim gold at the Oscars on Sunday, and his leading man Jean Dujardin was also a winner on Saturday afternoon as he picked up Best Male Lead for his role as silent movie star George Valentin.
The Artist's four-trophy haul was completed by Guillaume Schiffman, who claimed the Best Cinematography prize at the Spirits.
The event's first award went to Christopher Plummer, who was named Best Supporting Actor for his role in Beginners. He too is now a clear favourite to take home an Oscar on Sunday night, after previously winning a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for the part.
George Clooney's film The Descendants landed his movie daughter Shailene Woodley a Best Supporting Actress honour, while the movie's writer and director Alexander Payne scored the Independent Spirits' Best Screenplay prize.
Other major winners included Michelle Williams, who claimed the Best Female Lead award for her stunning turn as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn, A Separation (Best International Film), The Interrupters (Best Documentary) and cancer survivor Will Reiser, whose 50/50 film about his health battle won him the night's Best First Screenplay award.
Reiser's leading man and best friend Seth Rogen hosted the Spirits.
The full list of winners is:
Best Feature - The Artist
Best Director - Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Best Screenplay - Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
Best First Feature - J.C. Chandor (Margin Call)
Best First Screenplay - Will Reiser (50/50)
Best Female Lead - Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)
Best Male Lead - Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Best Supporting Female - Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)
Best Supporting Male - Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Best Cinematography - Guillaume Schiffman (The Artist)
Best Documentary - The Interrupters
Best International Film - A Separation
John Cassavetes Award - Dee Rees (writer/director of Pariah)
Producers Award - Sophia Lin (Take Shelter)
Someone to Watch Award - Mark Jackson (Without)
Truer Than Fiction Award - Heather Courtney (Where Soldiers Come From)
Robert Altman Award - cast of Margin Call
PHOTOS FROM THE SPIRIT AWARDS: