Film Independent’s newly minted co-presidents Sean McManus and Josh Welsh welcomed the Spirit Awards nominees at lunch today. But first the Los Angeles Film Critics Association hosted its annual gala in Century City Friday night with a quirky event where critics usually reviled were praised instead. Some LAFCA filmmakers arrived late from competing Golden Globe parties like Paramount’s and CAA’s, but nowhere else hosted Uggie, the dog from The Artist. “This is by far the best fucking awards dinner I’ve been to in my life,” Alexander Payne exclaimed after accepting LAFCA’s Best Picture nod for The Descendants. Best Actor winner Michael Fassbender (Shame) recalled how he first came to LA a decade ago for pilot season but soon returned to London with his tail between his legs. “It’s incredible to now stand here,” he gushed. Best Foreign Language winner Lu Chuan (City of Life and Death) sent a video that his investors were “holding him hostage” on his next film in China. So did Best Actress Yun Jung-hee (Poetry) and from Korea thanked critics in “the world capital of filmmaking” and signed off with “I love you”.