- Associated Press - Saturday, February 23, 2013

SANTA MONICA, CALIF. (AP) - Matthew McConaughey of “Magic Mike” and Helen Hunt of “The Sessions” won the supporting-acting prizes Saturday at the Spirit Awards, which honor independent film and are Hollywood’s last pre-game show before the Academy Awards.

Both won for portraying sexually charged roles, McConaughey as a flamboyant stripper and Hunt as a sexual surrogate helping a man in an iron lung to lose his virginity.

“I had to take my pants off to win a trophy,” said McConaughey, a Hollywood A-lister who has rarely been a contender at key film awards. McConaughey said that five of his last six films have been independent productions and were the “most creative fun of my acting career, hands down.”

Hunt, also nominated for supporting actress at Sunday’s Oscars, was coy backstage about what she’ll be doing before Hollywood’s big night.

“I will be eating breakfast and getting dressed,” Hunt said of her day at the Oscars, where she previously won as best actress for “As Good as It Gets.” “I don’t have any plans, but I’m going to put a dress on.”

David O. Russell earned the directing and screenplay prizes for his oddball romance “Silver Linings Playbook,” which centers on a shaky relationship between a man (Bradley Cooper) just out of a mental hospital and a young widow (Jennifer Lawrence). The film is up for best picture at the Oscars, where Russell is nominated for adapted screenplay and director, and Cooper and Lawrence are in the running for the lead-acting honors.

Russell said the film was for “any family that ever faced mood disorder or the stigma of mood disorder and mental illness.”

Austrian writer-director Michael Haneke’s old-age love story “Amour” won for best international film, a possible prelude to the Oscars, where his film is the favorite to win the foreign-language prize and is nominated for best picture.

“I have the impression I am the oldest man in the room,” the 70-year-old Haneke joked in a room filled with young filmmakers.

Among other winners were the teen drama “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” as best first film, from director Stephen Chbosky, who adapted the picture from his novel; Derek Connolly for first screenplay for “Safety Not Guaranteed,” a romantic comedy with a time-travel spin; and the bayou drama “Beasts of the Southern Wild” for cinematography for Ben Richardson.

Along with “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Amour,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild” also is up for best picture at the Oscars.

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