The 26th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival is officially in full swing (through January 12) but my eyes are still seeing stars from attending the Awards Gala at the Palm Springs Convention Center last Saturday, January 2!
If you thought gala organizers (led by the incomparable gala chairman Harold Matzner) couldn’t top last year’s stellar roster of Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, and Julia Roberts, well, you were wrong, my friend. The evening began with two co-stars of “Gone Girl,” Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens, handing over the Breakthrough Actress Award to Rosamund Pike, who played Amazing Amy Dunne in that blockbuster. Then Brad Pitt presented the Breakthrough Actor Award to David Oyelowo, who portrayed Martin Luther King, Jr. in festival opener “Selma.”
The A-listers just kept flowing from there, with Academy Award-nominated director Jason Reitman presenting the Spotlight Award to J.K. Simmons of “Whiplash,” Robert Downey Jr. paying tribute to Icon Award winner Robert Duvall, Steve Carell anointing Desert Palm Achievement Actress Julianne Moore for “Still Alice,” and Julianne turning right around to deliver the goods to Desert Palm Achievement Actor Eddie Redmayne of “The Theory of Everything.” The Sonny Bono Visionary Award was granted to “Boyhood” director Richard Linklater by the legendary Shirley MacLaine, Michael Keaton gave his “Birdman” helmer Alejandro González Iñárritu the Director of the Year Award, and “The Imitation Game” director Morten Tyldum honored his cast with the Ensemble Performance Award. Thought most of them were in attendance, including the gorgeous Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch spoke for the gang. The evening closed out with Reese Witherspoon of “Wild” receiving the Chairman’s Award from co-star Laura Dern.
As always, the beautiful and genial Mary Hart presided over the festivities, and afterwards, everyone headed on over to the after-party at The Parker. Yes, yours truly was there, too. And yes, I did share a glass of bubbly with my absolute favorite, Brad. Well, maybe not with him. But, I swear, as I sipped he was standing right next to me.
All of the honored films are worthy of the price of admission—and then some. And most are playing right here in the Palm Springs Valley. So head on over to the multiplex, and lose yourself in the dark. Who knows? I may be sitting right next to you!