SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The blur between the Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards — set a day apart on different sides of Los Angeles, with distinctly different dress codes — is nearly complete.
Increasingly, the films honored at the Oscars come from the independent world that the Spirit Awards were created to celebrate. The best movies of the year, as judged by Hollywood, no longer include much from the studios' regular output.
So the Independent Spirit Awards, which began as a beachside, pre-Oscars bash, now regularly serves as not only an indie appetizer to Sunday's Academy Awards, but basically a taste-test for Oscar's main course.
All of last year's acting winners won in Hollywood the day after they won in Santa Monica at the Spirits, as did the best picture winner for each: "12 Years a Slave." At this year's 30th annual Spirit Awards, which kick off at 2 p.m. PST Saturday, the same could happen.
The two films widely seen as the best-picture front-runners — "Boyhood" and "Birdman" — are among the movies squaring off for best feature film, along with fellow best-picture nominees "Selma" and "Whiplash." The actors who may take home Oscars on Sunday — Julianne Moore ("Still Alice"), Michael Keaton ("Birdman"), J.K. Simmons ("Whiplash") and Patricia Arquette ("Boyhood") — could all win their respective categories at the Spirits, too. (Notably absent from the Spirit contenders, however, is possible best-actor winner Eddie Redmayne, from "The Theory of Everything," a movie that wasn't eligible.)
But the Spirit Awards still march to the beat of a more idiosyncratic drum than their tuxedo-wearing crosstown copycats. Movies that escaped the film academy's notice like "Love Is Strange" (up for best feature), "Only Lovers Left Alive" (nominated for Jim Jarmusch's screenplay and actress Tilda Swinton), "A Most Violent Year" (J.C. Chandor for best director and Jessica Chastain for best supporting actress), and "Under the Skin" (in the foreign film category) will be in the mix.
"Nightcrawler," which did land an Oscar nod for Dan Gilroy's script, is a bigger heavyweight at the Spirits, where it's up for five awards, including best actor for Jake Gyllenhaal. Marion Cotillard is nominated here for best actress, but not for "Two Days, One Night," as she is at the Oscars, but for "The Immigrant."
And "Selma," which was famously given only two Oscar nominations, has four at the Spirit Awards, including nods for director Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo.
This year's Spirit Awards will be hosted by Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell. For the first time, the show will be televised live on IFC after years of a delayed broadcast. The awards are put on by Film Independent, a group of filmmakers, industry professionals and movie buffs, who generally select films made with a budget of $20 million or less.
One of the night's most fitting honors will be the Robert Altman Award going to Paul Thomas Anderson for "Inherent Vice." Altman was a friend and mentor to Anderson, who served as the stand-by director for Altman's last movie, "A Prairie Home Companion."
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP