Silent movie "The Artist" won another pre-Oscars boost Saturday, barely 24 hours before the big show, taking three of the main prizes at the independent Spirit film awards.
The black-and-white movie, a frontrunner at Sunday's Academy Awards, won best feature, best director for French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius and best actor for its star Jean Dujardin.
Best actress went to Michelle Williams for her turn as screen icon Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn," while best screenplay was won by Alexander Payne for Hawaii-based family drama "The Descendants" starring George Clooney.
Best supporting actor went to Christopher Plummer for "Beginners," while best supporting actress Spirit award was won by Shailene Woodley who plays Clooney's character's older daughter in "The Descendants."
"The Artist," a tribute to the silent movie era which is nominated in 10 categories for the Oscars, also won the best cinematography Spirit prize, handed out in a huge beach-front tent in Santa Monica.
Best foreign film went to Iran's "A Separation" by director Asghar Farhadi, which is heavily tipped to win that category at the Academy Awards on Sunday, over films from Poland, Canada, Belgium and Israel.
"The Artist" has scooped a string of prizes during the annual awards season, including Golden Globe best film and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) best actor for Dujardin and Directors Guild of America (DGA) best director for Hazanavicius.
At the Oscars it has one fewer nomination than veteran director Martin Scorsese's 3D adventure "Hugo," which has 11 nods.