Whether that’s because the Academy has had to delve further into the independent realm to find decent movies – or the Spirits are becoming more a part of the awards-season hype machine – depends on how you look at it. Best Male Lead Spirit went to Oscar-nominated Ryan Gosling, with Best Female Lead Spirit going to his “Half-Nelson” co-star Shareeka Epps. “You guys have never made any money off of me and you never will, and you seem OK with that,” Canadian actor Gosling said to the folks he referred to as his team. “Friends With Money’s” Frances McDormand won the Supporting Female prize. The Foreign Film award went to another Oscar contender, the German thriller “The Lives of Others.” “Pan’s Labyrinth,” which goes into the Academy Awards tonight with six nominations, won the Cinematography Spirit. More traditionally independent winners, due somewhat to the nature of their categories, were Best First Feature “Sweet Land,” John Cassavetes Award (for best first feature made for under $500,000) recipient “Quincea era” and Documentary “The Road to Guantanamo.” However truly independent the films may or may not be, attendees at the alcohol-rich, coffee-stingy Spirit luncheon acted edgier than those who will be at tonight’s little get-together at the Kodak. Emcee Sarah Silverman kept up a hilarious barrage of mostly unprintable showbiz jokes. One of her subversive lines we can repeat: “This year, I haven’t seen any of the movies. But that’s good, because I can be impartial.” The ceremony’s most moving moment was a tribute to late maverick director Robert Altman. One of his favorite actors, Lily Tomlin, quoted his credo to actors: “I don’t know what I want; surprise me.” Spirit Award nominees are chosen by assorted committees made up of film talent, industry professionals and critics. Film Independent members, which apparently any movie enthusiast can become for a fee, then vote for the winners. Criteria for nomination eligibility includes uniqueness of vision, original and provocative subject matter, economy of means and percentage of financing gleaned from independent sources. email@example.com (818) 713-3670160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The modest $8 million production – which was picked up for distribution by media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Searchlight after wowing audiences at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival – has already won top honors at this year’s Producers, Writers and Screen Actors Guild Awards. “I can only hope that filmmakers who are out there can gain some hope from this movie,” co-director Dayton said in his acceptance speech, referring to “Sunshine’s” five-year struggle to find financing. “The studio system had given up on us, and we’re very grateful to our five producers.” Another Fox Searchlight title, “Thank You for Smoking,” won the Best Screenplay Spirit, giving the studio a leading total of five awards. Although dedicated to promoting nonstudio, individualistic filmmaking, the Spirit Awards in recent years have been looking increasingly like the Hollywood establishment’s Oscars. PHOTO GALLERY: Independent Spirit “Little Miss Sunshine” emerged as the big winner at Saturday’s Film Independent Spirit Awards, taking four honors including Best Feature at a ceremony on the beach in Santa Monica. The beloved road comedy about a dysfunctional family on its way to a children’s beauty pageant also earned honors for its director (husband-and-wife team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris), first screenplay (Michael Arndt) and supporting actor (Alan Arkin). Tonight, the film is competing in the Academy Award categories of Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for Arkin and Best Supporting Actress for Abigail Breslin.