From Nicolas Cage to the 'Moonlight' Reunion: 9 Things the Cameras Missed at the Spirit Awards Ceremony

Jennifer Lopez and Laura Dern bond, while Bong Joon Ho just wants to get back to his puppy in Korea — these are the conversations and meet-ups not seen on the IFC telecast.

The 35th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards took place on Saturday afternoon in Santa Monica, with stars including Jennifer Lopez, Nicolas Cage and Robert De Niro on hand to honor the year's best in independent filmmaking.

The ceremony was hosted by Aubrey Plaza and aired live on IFC, and there were plenty of splashy moments on the telecast — from Plaza's impersonation of Robert Pattinson's Lighthouse character to the Los Angeles Gay Men's Choir tribute to Laura Dern, there were some things the cameras missed. 

The Climb Cycled to the Ceremony

While Bird scooters lined the Santa Monica boardwalk, best first feature nominees Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin rode bikes to the event, even taking them onto the carpet. They were nominated for the buddy comedy The Climb, which follows two friends as they endure a tumultuous time in their relationship while on a strenuous bike ride. Several years ago, Hilary Swank also rode her bike to the ceremony.

Laura Dern and Jennifer Lopez Spark Photographer Frenzy

There was no bad blood on the blue carpet where Dern approached Lopez for a conversation. (The Marriage Story actress has bested the Hustlers star in the supporting actress category through much of awards season). Dern introduced her daughter, Jaya, to Lopez, at which point they all talked about Lopez’s daughter, Emme, who took center stage alongside her famous mother during last weekend's Super Bowl halftime show in Miami. Also in on the conversation was Netflix chief Ted Sarandos, who also had the opportunity to introduce his daughter to J.Lo, as well.

A Moonlight and Mad Men Reunion During a Commercial Break

Barry Jenkins was overheard hollering “Tarrell!” across the tent. He was looking for his Oscar-winning Moonlight co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, whom he rushed over to hug and then guided back to his table, where he was siting with his girlfriend, The Farewell director Lulu Wang. Her Smell star and nominee Elisabeth Moss also had a reunion of her own, sharing a big hug with her former Mad Men co-star Jon Hamm.

Last Black Man (Almost) Meets a National Treasure

While people were queuing up to meet and snap a photo with their favorite nominees and presenters like Bong Joon Ho, The Last Black Man in San Francisco star Jimmie Fails and director Joe Talbot were hesitant to approach one celebrity in particular: Nicolas Cage. The National Treasure star was on hand to present the Robert Altman Award and was eating his meal next to tablemate Evan Rachel Wood, as Fails and Talbot debated about whether or not to approach during a commercial break. Ultimately, they decided not to.

J.Lo Goes Back to Eighth Grade

Lopez, who was nominated in the best supporting actress category, was seated at one of the front tables with a large bodyguard looming nearby. Her seemingly unexpected seatmate was Eight Grade director Bo Burnham — who was a nominee at last year’s ceremony — but he is the longtime partner of Lopez’s Hustlers director Lorene Scafaria.

Bong Sees the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Director Bong Joon Ho has had a busy awards season, beginning with Parasite’s Cannes Film Festival debut. “It’s almost over!,” exclaimed the filmmaker, throwing his hands up in the air triumphantly. Bong told THR that his plan after Sunday’s Oscars ceremony is to go back to Korea and to “be with his puppy.” When Parasite won for best international feature, the audience gave the helmer a standing ovation — the first one of the day.

Ted Sarandos Gets Behind the Camera for Best First Screenplay Winners

Netflix head Sarandos was asked to snap a group photo for best first screenplay winners Stefon Bristol and Fredric Bailey, who wrote the sci-fi indie See You Yesterday, which was released on the streaming platform. He happily obliged, taking several options for the group and showing them to ensure that he got a good snap. (He did.)

Coronavirus Kept Winners and Attendees Away

The coronavirus affected the end of awards season, keeping one Spirit Award winner from her acceptance speech. The Farewell’s Zhao Shuzen earned the nod in the best supporting actress category, but was unable to travel from China due to the outbreak of the deadly virus. Director Lulu Wang accepted the award on Zhao's behalf and revealed the news from the podium. Elsewhere, American Factory directors Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar told THR ahead of their win for best documentary that one of the subjects from their film, Chairman Cao, had planned to attend the Oscars in support of the Netflix film but also stayed back due to the epidemic.

No Plant-Based Meal for Independent Film

Vegan awards shows have been a focal point this season due in large part to Joaquin Phoenix, who influenced the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards and the Critics' Choice Awards to offer plant-based menus. But such was not the case on Saturday inside the Santa Monica tent in the absence of the Joker star. Hundreds of guests dined family style on a menu (by The Kitchen) that included Za-atar roasted sliced chicken, prosciutto, soppressata, cured Spanish chorizo, cubed feta, aged Manchego and parmigiano reggiano, among other treats.