- Associated Press - Saturday, February 25, 2012

SANTA MONICA, CALIF. (AP) - “The Artist” star Jean Dujardin and “Beginners” co-star Christopher Plummer won Spirit Awards honoring independent film Saturday, possible preludes to the same honors a day later at the Academy Awards.

Dujardin won the lead-actor prize for his role as a silent-film superstar whose career tumbles as the sound era takes hold in the 1920s. Plummer won for supporting actor as an elderly widower who comes out as gay.

The supporting-actress prize went to Shailene Woodley for the family drama “The Descendants.”

At Sunday’s Oscars, the 82-year-old Plummer is favored to become the oldest acting winner ever. Dujardin is up for the best-actor Oscar, where he and “The Descendants” star George Clooney star are in a two-man race.

“It’s taken me the longest time to realize the Spirit Awards have nothing to do with booze,” Plummer joked, going on to thank all the spirits that have come his way in his career, “good and evil.”

Dujardin was unable to attend the Spirit Awards. He was traveling back to Los Angeles for Sunday’s Oscars after the Cesar awards in France on Friday, where “The Artist” won six prizes, including best picture.

At the Spirit Awards, “The Artist” also won the cinematography honor for Guillaume Schiffman.

Woodley was not nominated for an Oscar but won out over a lineup that included Academy Award nominee Janet McTeer of the Irish drama “Albert Nobbs.” In “The Descendants,” Woodley plays the troubled teenage daughter of a Hawaiian dad (Clooney) trying to hold his family together after his wife falls into a coma.

“The Descendants” also won the screenplay award for director Alexander Payne and his co-writers, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.

Other winners:

_ International film, “A Separation,” directed by Asghar Farhadi.

_ Documentary: “The Interrupters.”

_ First screenplay: Will Reiser, “50/50.”

_ John Cassavetes Award for feature film made for less than $500,000: “Pariah.”

An informal celebration compared to Hollywood’s many black-tie honors, the Spirit Awards were presented in their usual venue in a tent along the beach in Santa Monica, just west of Los Angeles.

Hosted by Seth Rogen, the ceremony was taped to air later Saturday on IFC.




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