Inside the L.A. Film Critics' dinner

There were no TV cameras and few reporters at Saturday night's Los Angeles Film Critics Association awards dinner. That's the way VP Tim Grierson likes it.

LAFCA takes a lot of pride in the fact that we don't televise our event. And while some media individuals are invited to the banquet, the atmosphere (as it was on January 15 for this year's event) is decidedly relaxed and informal. For one thing, you're all sitting together in a posh hotel ballroom that's nice and intimate. You've got Mel Brooks, Colin Firth, Kevin Spacey, David Fincher, and LAFCA members all grouped at tables: It's star-studded and no-big-deal all at once. Plus, winners swear during their acceptance speeches at LAFCA banquets. They tell fun, rambling stories that aren't all that illuminating but are wonderfully off-the-cuff. Nobody's performing for the camera. Nobody's worrying about how tonight's event will affect his or her Oscar chances. They're just hanging out. As much as the Golden Globes like to advertise their awards show as the time Hollywood lets its hair down, I would say that the winners at a LAFCA banquet are far less rehearsed and much more at ease.

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