Lacking a heckler in the audience like its East Coast counterpart, the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards instead focused entirely on its honorees. With tie votes in a few key categories, Saturday night's Century City ceremony had all the makings of battle, but presenters and winners kept it classy.
The love-in was headlined by Spike Jonze and Alfonso Cuarón, who shared the best picture prize for their films Her and Gravity, respectively.
"What you guys do is really important to what people like us do," Jonze told the critics while accepting his plaque near the end of the long evening. He also gave Cuarón a shout out. The Mexican director did the same when he took the stage a few moments later.
Jonze also spoke of the personal nature of his work, picking up on a thread left on stage by Megan Ellison, the young producer who backed his Her. Her Annapurna Pictures has backed David O. Russell's American Hustle, Wong Kar-Wai's The Grandmaster, Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers, Katherine Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty and Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, among others.
Ellison, just twenty seven years old, was celebrated with LAFCA's New Generation prize and toasted Spike Jonze as her best friends and saluted, "The filmmakers who are crazy enough to work with someone as young as me. You make me feel less alone in the world, so thank you."
Her and Gravity each won multiple prizes on Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Cuarón was the winner of the best director award (and Jonze was the runner-up), while the space story also won awards for best cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki) and best editing (Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger). Jonze's futuristic L.A. story won the production design prize (K.K. Barrett).
Richard Lester was awarded the tribute prize at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association dinner at the Hotel Intercontinental, although he was unable to attend the event so he sent along a videtaped message. Special awards honored Charlotte Pryce for her Cabinets Of Wonder, while the Criterion Collection was honored for its commitment to cinema.
Cate Blanchett and Adele Exarchopolous shared the best actress prize. Both saluted their directors.
"I'd really like to thank Woody (Allen) who is never here," the Blue Jasmine star quipped before reflecting on his consistency in creating strong roles for women over the course of a 47 film career. Meanwhile Exarchopolous, who has famously quarreled with Blue is the Warmest Color director Abdellatif Kechiche since it won the Palme d'Or back in Cannes, was complimentary with the filmmaker in the room to accept the best foreign language film award.
"I want to thank you Abdel," she began, "You took me from shadow to light."
Jared Leto and James Franco shared the best supporting actor award on Saturday and spoke to each other from the stage.
"My So Called Life helped me get through high school," Franco said to Leto, who shouted out a jab from his seat, teasing Franco for mispronouncing his last name, 'Lee-toe'. Getting more serious, Franco - who turned heads for his performance in Spring Breakers - thanked the critics for their support saying, "I choose to be an actor as an artist and to only work with people I believe in,"
Leto hailed his role as transformative. "Thank you for having the balls for working with an actor who hadn't made a film in six said to his Dallas Buyers Club collaborators. Thank you for giving me he chance to tuck those balls away."
Bruce Dern, winner of the best actor award for his performance in Nebraska, choked up as he stood at the podium after a standing ovation. Taking the stage near the end of the night he reflected on his work in LA over the years and toasted the legacy of Los Angeles Film Critics from Charles Champlain to Kenny Turan.
"Thank you all for letting me dance," Dern said as the evening wound down.