Palm Springs Film Fest

With this year’s Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes nominations having just been released mere days ago, the Hollywood awards season is finally kicking into high gear. As I overheard Tom Hanks tell Julia Robert a few years ago on the red carpet, “Are you ready for this?” Indeed!

From Mark Ruffalo in “Spotlight” and Bryan Cranston in “Trumbo” to Idris Elba in “Beasts of No Nation,” Lily Tomlin in “Grandma,” and part-time Palm Springs resident Leo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”…from Matt Damon in “The Martian” and Jane Fonda in “Youth” to Marion Cotillard as the Lady in “Macbeth” and Steve Carrell, Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, and Ryan Gosling in “The Big Short,” my head is spinning. So many great movies to see. So many wonderful stories to witness. So many tremendous performances in which to bask.

But let’s not ever forget, dear reader, that every awards season always begins right here in the Palm Springs Valley. That’s right! SAG and the Globes may have borrowed the spotlight of late, but all eyes in Tinseltown have been on the desert for weeks as the Palm Springs International Film Festival—the first true predictor of how the Academy Awards will go down come late February—has slowly but surely divulged the honorees for its own Awards Gala, to be held January 2, 2016 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Hosted, as it always is, by the fabulous Mary Hart, the evening will pay tribute to such renowned world cinema stars as Cate Blanchett for “Carol,” Michael Fassbender for “Steve Jobs,” and Johnny Depp for “Black Mass.” Newer powerhouse performers also slated to be feted at the gala include Saoirse Ronan for “Brooklyn,” Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl,” Brie Larson for “Room,” and Rooney Mara, also for “Carol.” “Spotlight” director Tom McCarthy will receive the Sonny Bono Visionary Award. I know of a few more honorees and categories, and would share them here if I could. But good things come to those who wait. All will be revealed in good time.

The festival itself takes place from January 1 to 11 at various venues throughout the Valley. This, the 27th incarnation of the festival, will see more than 200 films from more than 60 countries unspool for an international audience of nearly 140,000.

Should you desire to be counted among those celluloid aficionados, please note that the entire film festival schedule will be revealed at on Friday, December 18, and that tickets will go on sale to the general public online on Monday, December 21.

See you on the red carpet, and at the movies!