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Oscar Watch: Fest Awards Push Contenders

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 23, 2009 at 5:12AM

Along with fall award season pump-primers The Hollywood, London and AFI Fests, another key fest on the award season calendar is the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which takes place at the height of Oscar voting this February, from the 4th through the 14th. (Oscar nominations are announced on February 2.)
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Thompson on Hollywood

Along with fall award season pump-primers The Hollywood, London and AFI Fests, another key fest on the award season calendar is the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which takes place at the height of Oscar voting this February, from the 4th through the 14th. (Oscar nominations are announced on February 2.)

This year the fest will honor Modern Master James Cameron (Avatar) and Outstanding Performance of the Year Colin Firth (A Single Man), as well as four recipients of the new Cinema Vanguard Award: Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), Peter Sarsgaard (An Education), Stanley Tucci (Julie & Julia, The Lovely Bones) and Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds). (I look forward every year to moderating SBIFF's annual writers' panel.)

A fest with influence during the earlier Oscar nomination season is Palm Springs (January 5 to 18), which is giving Mariah Carey its breakthrough performance award for Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire. Past recipients of the award include eventual Oscar-winners Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Hudson. Other fest honorees this year are Morgan Freeman (Invictus) and Farmiga's Up in the Air co-star Anna Kendrick.

Along with critics top ten lists and group prizes and shows like the Golden Globes and BAFTAs, well-promoted fest awards help to build momentum toward that collective sense of a winner, a snowball that gets bigger as it rolls toward an Oscar nomination, front-runner status and hopefully, a win.

This article is related to: Awards, Festivals, Oscars


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.