Stars get loose for L.A.crix

Many non-nominated celebs were in attendance

“I’m going to come again — I like it when it’s not on television,” Jack Nicholson grinned at Wednesday’s Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. Awards. Santa Monica’s beachside Casa del Mar hotel hosted a heavy concentration of top talent.

Some who showed weren’t even award winners, a growing trend in the eternal pursuit of more awards-season visibility. Showing up to support their colleagues were Nicolas Cage, congratulating “Adaptation” supporting actor winner Chris Cooper; “Far From Heaven” helmer Todd Haynes with best actress winner Julianne Moore; and Mel Brooks with his wife, Anne Bancroft, who presented career achievement winner Arthur Penn with his award.

Off-the-cuff, not-for-television remarks are the specialty of this gathering, and critic Peter Rainer didn’t stint on the four-letter words in his intro for foreign film winner “Y tu mama tambien,” which he called “a ‘Bill and Ted’ movie made by true artists.”

The pic’s co-screenwriter Carlos Cuaron explained a climactic moment to the audience: “Just in case you were wondering, in the diving board scene, it was hair conditioner.” Producer Jorge Vergara said he thinks “Mama” has opened the door to wider acceptance of foreign films in the U.S. and has changed the image of foreign-language pics.

Director winner Pedro Almodovar told Daily Variety he thinks subtitled films should be more widely distributed in the U.S., but he doubts the industry will allow it.

Alexander Payne, whose “About Schmidt” was a triple winner, tying for best actor as well as screenplay and picture, also stepped up to the podium to accept Lynne Ramsay’s New Generation award for “Morvern Callar.” “Very shortly, she will make a masterpiece,” he predicted.

“We’ve really enjoyed spending Harvey Weinstein and Graham King’s money,” quipped “Gangs of New York” actor co-winner Daniel Day-Lewis. “It’s an honor to share the award with that wonderful man, who undoubtedly is an honorary hooligan of the Five Points.”

Actor co-winner Nicholson responded to Day-Lewis, “I would love to have stood up with you side by side, but you’re too tall.”

“About Schmidt” producers Michael Besman and Harry Gittes, Nicholson’s longtime associate and namesake of “Chinatown’s” Jake Gittes, accepted the best pic award.

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