SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The oddball romance “Silver Linings Playbook” was named best picture Saturday at the Spirit Awards honoring independent film, Hollywood’s last pre-game show before the Academy Awards.
“Silver Linings Playbook” led with four wins, including best actress for Jennifer Lawrence and director and screenplay for David O. Russell.
Lawrence is the best-actress favorite at Sunday’s Oscars for her role as a young widow in a shaky new relationship with a man fresh from a mental hospital.
“The Sessions” earned two acting prizes, for John Hawkes as a man in an iron lung hoping to lose his virginity and Helen Hunt as the sexual surrogate helping him through it.
The award for best supporting actor went to Matthew McConaughey as a flamboyant stripper in “Magic Mike.”
In barely three years, Lawrence has risen from a relative unknown to superstar hero of “The Hunger Games” franchise and potential Oscar winner at just 22. Her quick ascent began with another Spirit Awards nominee, “Winter’s Bone,” which won the top honor at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and earned Lawrence her first Oscar nomination.
Lawrence said she loves independent film for the thrill of freezing with the crew in the middle of the night because they all believe in a story.
“That’s why I do what I do. I love that feeling. I mean, I’d rather be warm,” Lawrence said.
McConaughey, also a best-actor nominee at the Spirit Awards for “Killer Joe,” is a Hollywood A-lister but a relative newcomer to key film awards.
“Silver Linings Playbook” centers on the relationship between a man (Bradley Cooper) just out of a mental hospital and a young widow (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.
The film’s producers said they had expected fellow Oscar best-picture nominee “Beasts of the Southern Wild” to win the top Spirit Award and that they have no expectations of winning the big prize at the Oscars, where Ben Affleck’s CIA thriller “Argo” is the best-picture favorite.
But they gushed praise for filmmaker Russell.
“Your brilliance as a filmmaker is without peer. Your spirit of collaboration knows no bounds,” said “Silver Linings” producer Jonathan Gordon.
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:
-- Best first film: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” from director Stephen Chbosky, who adapted the picture from his novel.
-- First screenplay: “Safety Not Guaranteed,” Derek Connolly.
-- Cinematography: “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Ben Richardson.
-- Documentary: “The Invisible War,” directed by Kirby Dick.
-- John Cassavetes Award for best film made for less than $500,000: “Middle of Nowhere,” directed by Ava DuVernay.