This pre-awards weekend veered toward the 70s as Robert Redford and Bruce Dern were tributed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Martin Scorsese was honored by the Art Directors Guild and screenwriter Robert Towne was feted by the USC Scripter Awards.
This pre-Oscar weekend also brought Friday's editors ACE Eddie Awards in Los Angeles, which went to "Captain Phillips" for drama, likely Oscar-winner "American Hustle" for comedy, and Oscar frontrunners "20 Feet from Stardom" for documentary and "Frozen" for animation.
"Frozen" director Jennifer Lee, in Santa Barbara for Saturday's directors' panel, was delighted because the editing on the complex musical film involved challenging timing, she said. She and co-director Chris Buck are almost through with their "Frozen" long-distance marathon as they head into the final Oscar stretch and finalize various versions of the movie for DVD, Blu-ray, television, etc. They are expected to take home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
Saturday's Art Directors Guild Awards went to "Gravity" for fantasy, "Her" for contemporary and "The Great Gatsby" for period feature, the likeliest Oscar winner, but it's a close race. "How does one separate cinema from production design?" asked Scorsese, who was honored at the ADG Awards. "You can't." Scorsese and "Wolf of Wall Street" production designer Bob Shaw will be working on a television pilot soon. Veteran production designer and cinema virtuoso Rick Carter talked dropping acid in the 70s as he accepted his lifetime ADG Award. .
Saturday drew another crowd to the USC Scripter Awards, which are given to both the original writer and the adapting screenwriter and often predict the Adapted Screenplay Oscar. John Ridley graciously accepted the award, breaking into tears as he thanked the long-deceased Solomon Northup for "12 Years a Slave." While "Captain Phillips" won the Writers Guild award, neither "Philomena" nor "12 Years a Slave" was eligible.
Two 77-year-old athlete-turned-actors recalled the 70s at Santa Barbara tributes. Redford showed up at State Street's Arlington Theater for his grilling by Leonard Maltin even though he didn't land an Oscar nomination for "All is Lost," followed on Saturday night by fellow 77-year-old Dern, an Oscar nominee for "Nebraska" (who drew half a house filling in for non-nominee Emma Thompson, who preferred to stay in London). Santa Barbara Fest award-winners are here.
Robert Redford grew up in a tough L.A. neighborhood, never did well in school, lost his U of Colorado baseball scholarship for drinking, worked on an oil refinery which funded a tour of Europe, where he studied art and paid for a room or meals by doing street portraits, "American in Paris"-style. Redford says he always had an outlaw sensibility and identified with his role as the Sundance Kid in Butch Cassidy, which turned him into a movie star. Paul Newman was supposed to play that role in William Goldman's script for "The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy," but director George Roy HIll and Newman fought for Redford against the studio and Newman as the movie star got top billing in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."