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Tuesday , October 20 2020

Palm Springs toasts Oscar hopefuls – Fringe Oscar contenders that deserve a nomination

Kate Winslet (right), presents the International Star Award — actor to Michael Fassbender at the 27th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala on Jan 2, in Palm Springs, Calif. (AP)
Kate Winslet (right), presents the International Star Award — actor to Michael Fassbender at the 27th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala on Jan 2, in Palm Springs, Calif. (AP)

LOS ANGELES, Jan 3, (RTRS): Honorees at the Palm Springs Film Festival gala were campaigning and practicing their awards speeches Saturday night.

Chairman of the Board recipient Matt Damon suggested his “The Martian” director Ridley Scott, for instance, was overdue even though he had helmed an Oscar best picture winner in “Gladiator.”

“There are only a handful of master directors on the planet and Ridley is one of them.”

As the last honoree of the night Damon may have felt pressure to wrap up, especially with some empty tables before him.

“There’s a bunch of people I want to thank, but I won’t do it here, I’ll do it privately,” he said.

Earlier Cate Blanchett, who accepted the actress Desert Palm Achievement Award from Saoirse Ronan, said Todd Haynes and the “Carol” team had “set the bar so high I don’t know where to go as an actress.”

She took time to praise Ronan, recipient of the Intl Star Award, for her career choices. “You have made a film for the ages,” she said of the “Brooklyn” team.

Ronan said she prepped for her speech by Googling Meryl Streep and looking up Sandra Bullock’s speeches. “I am not Meryl Streep, FYI, so I am not winging it,” Ronan said.

The other Intl Star Award honoree, Michael Fassbender, and his presenter Kate Winslet had the aud in stitches. Fassbender said Winslet told him “not to … this up” as he got up to the mic.

While praising his fellow cast members Fassbender said, “The box office for ‘Steve Jobs’ may not be great, but thank god for ‘Jurassic Park.’”

Ensemble

Cast members from “The Big Short” accepted the ensemble prize from their director, Adam McKay. Christian Bale said, “Nobody thought Adam McKay could direct ‘The Big Short.’ In a small way I hope ‘The Big Short’ helps the people who were s..t on by the banks.”

His co-star Steve Carell pointed out that Ryan Gosling was absent. “We all hate him and are glad he’s not here,” Carell joked.

Johnny Depp, who accepted the actor Desert Palm Achievement Award, brought out a sheet of paper and told the attendees to be prepared.

“I’m going to thank all these people, my speech is going to take 45 minutes.”

Also bringing levity to the proceedings was Bryan Cranston, winner of the Spotlight Award, who said he was afraid it was a lifetime achievement award, meaning he was getting old. Getting serious, he said, “We embrace differences of opinion and that’s what makes us a great nation.”

Other honorees included Alicia Vikander, Brie Larson, Rooney Mara and Tom McCarthy.

The gala also paid tribute to the late producer Jerry Weintraub, who was a benefactor of the film festival.

List of Palm Springs Film Festival winners:

* Palm achievement award, actor: Johnny Depp — Whitey Bulger in “Black Mass” Honor: Desert.

* Chairman’s award: Matt Damon — Astronaut Mark Watney in “The Martian”

* Desert Palm achievement award, actress: Cate Blanchett — Carol Aird in “Carol” and Mary Mapes in “Truth”.

*  Spotlight award, actor: Bryan Cranston — Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in “Trumbo”.

* International star award, actress: Saoirse Ronan — Irish immigrant Eilis in “Brooklyn”.

* Sonny Bono visionary award: Tom McCarthy — Co-writer and director of “Spotlight.”

* Breakthrough performance award: Brie Larson — Ma in “Room”.

* International star award, actor: Michael Fassbender — Apple founder Steve Jobs in “Steve Jobs”.

* Spotlight award, actress: Rooney Mara —Therese Belivet in “Carol”

* Ensemble performance award: — The cast of ‘The Big Short’

* Rising star award: Alicia Vikander — Artist Gerda Wegener in “The Danish Girl” and Ava in “Ex Machina”.

Balloting is well underway for the 88th annual Oscars as members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (or their assistants or sons or daughters or dogs or cats) sit down to chalk up the best in 2015 cinema. I’ve already rattled off a personal list of superlatives, but allow me a final “for your consideration” pitch for a few contenders that could really use a leg-up. All of these are on the far outside looking in, but they represent some of the finest achievements of the year. So, to the various branches of the Academy…

Directors Branch: Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen for “Inside Out”

I’ve been ringing this bell all season long but here’s one more push: Animation directors deserve some love, too, particularly when they crank out something as thematically and emotionally rich as “Inside Out.” Pete Docter and his co-director Ronnie Del Carmen created, for me, the best film of 2015, but more importantly, this is a barrier that ought to be broken sooner rather than later.

Actors Branch: Geza Rohrig for “Son of Saul”

The lead actor race has been intriguingly thin all season, which is certainly out of character. So there’s room to maneuver, and I’d like to pitch a number of actors, honestly. I’ve already spoken up for Andrew Garfield in “99 Homes,” so let’s spread the love to “Son of Saul” star Geza Rohrig here.

Writers Branch: Charlie Kaufman for “Anomalisa”

“Anomalisa” should be good to go for an animated feature nomination (though don’t be too sure — last year’s “LEGO Movie” miss was another reminder that outsiders can be treated as hostile by this branch). But the film deserves recognition outside of a ghetto and Charlie Kaufman’s brilliant work on the page was in keeping with the masterful work he’s given us from “Being John Malkovich” to “Adaptation,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” to “Synechdoche, New York.”

Cinematographers Branch: Maryse Alberti for “Creed”

There is a wonderful opportunity this year for cinematographers to make history: No woman has ever been nominated for a best cinematography Oscar. No one is asking for a handout, though, because Maryse Alberti’s lensing of “Creed” makes its own case. A striking visual rendering of a familiar tale for a new generation, it captures iconic frame after iconic frame with plenty of technical prowess to spare. (That single-take boxing match, though…)

Film Editors Branch: Chris King for “Amy”

It’s very rare for documentaries to get a fair shake outside of their own category, but when they do, the work in piecing together the narrative tends to be what’s noticed. In “Amy,” the best documentary of the year if you’re asking me, editor Chris King pulled in material from all kinds of sources to transcend the simple-minded “behind the music” shade detractors have thrown on the film and help tell a story that makes you fall in love with a victim of the modern media.

Music Branch: Johann Johannsson for “Sicario”

Straight-up, the score for “Sicario” scared the crap out of me. It’s an eerie piece of work that gets into your bones, and though Johann Johannsson was a darling on the circuit last year with “The Theory of Everything,” he hasn’t received the proper appreciation this time around. (I’ve been a fan ever since his last collaboration with filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, “Prisoners.”)

Sound Branch: “Love & Mercy”

This would be a great way to celebrate the overall aural brilliance of Bill Pohlad’s Brian Wilson biopic. Wilson can’t land a nomination because his original song, “One Kind of Love,” was rendered ineligible. Similarly, Atticus Ross’ score wasn’t able to make it to the starting gate, probably due to the proliferation of Beach Boys music in the film. But the overall sound design and sonic identity of the movie is quite brilliant, bringing the audience into the mind of a musical genius. A mixing nod, in particular, would be splendid.

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