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The 5 Best Backstage Moments from the Spirit Awards

The Independent Spirit Awards, which turned 30 this year, have always been like the afternoon bachelorette party on the day before the Oscars. The Santa Monica celebration takes place on a tent on the beach on Saturday, with free-flowing bottles of beer and tequila on each table. Even the most VIP-celebrities use the porta-a-pottys–just ask Julianne Moore, who ducked outside in her shimmering dress for a bathroom break before her category (best actress for “Still Alice”), and still had to wait in line like everybody else.

But even with the laidback vibe, the Spirit Awards (decided by Film Independent) have come to overlap with the Oscars–in 2014, “Twelve Years a Slave” swept landed best picture there before taking home the Academy Award, which could mean good news for this year’s winner “Birdman” (which beat out “Boyhood”). Here are five of the best moments Variety spotted at this year’s shindig.

1. Nobody had a bodyguard, except for Oprah.
Most of the attendees at the Spirit Awards were low-key enough (just ask Miles Teller or David Oyelowo) to happily oblige when their fans asked them for photos. But Oprah, who was there as a producer of “Selma” and sat next to the film’s director Ava DuVernay, was the only celebrity in attendance who brought along security. The Oprah-appointed bodyguard was there to there to discourage her fans from asking her for selfies, although Oprah agreed to taking a few including a picture with Olivia Munn and her boyfriend, NFL superstar Aaron Rogers.

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2. Where was Richard Linklater?
Linkater was the winner for best director for “Boyhood,” but Ethan Hawke accepted on his behalf, talking about how his friend told him that individuals–not corporations–needed to tell their stories on film. The director, who spent twelve years making “Boyhood,” missed the awards to attend to a family situation, according to sources. But Linklater later showed up at IFC’s after-party in honor of the film at 41 Ocean.

3. P.T. Anderson got the biggest laugh
Anderson won the Robert Altman award for “Inherent Vice,” which he accepted with his cast (Joaquin Phoenix came to the ceremony with a lit cigarette in his hand, which he snuck past the door). Anderson gave a gracious speech, until he launched into an attack on one of the awards’ major sponsors: America Airlines. “Don’t fly American Airlines, man,” Anderson said. “They will f—ing lose your luggage.” Later, Bennett Miller, who received a special award for “Foxcatcher,” read from mock notes that Anderson supposedly have given him: “My apologies to American Airlines,” Miller said. “It was actually United.”

4. Patricia Arquette is good at improvising.
There was a technical difficulty when Arquette took the podium to accept her award for best supporting actress (“Boyhood”), and a garbled sound effect interrupted her comments. “Was that God?” Arquette ad-libbed. “She sounded great.”

5. Does this mean “Birdman” will win best picture?
The Spirit Awards are decided by a small group of independent film lovers, but last year they predicted all the acting awards and “Twelve Years a Slave” for best picture. Does that mean “Birdman” will emerge as the winner at Sunday night’s Oscars too? Members at the official after-party (held at Santa Monica’s Bungalow) couldn’t decide if the Academy Awards would split between “Birdman” for best picture and “Boyhood” for best director, or if “Boyhood” would win best picture and “Birdman” would win best director. There was also talk of a potential spoiler: “Birdman” and “Boyhood” cancelling each other out, leaving room for a surprise win from “American Sniper,” “The Imitation Game” or “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” In other words, nobody knows what’s going to win best picture.

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