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2024 Awards Season Kickoff: Palm Springs, Variety Honorees, Golden Globes, Governors Awards

All stills courtesy of Getty Images.

With awards being given at the Golden Globes this past Sunday, and at the Palm Springs International Film Festival ("PSIFF") and Variety’s 10 Directors To Watch, just days before, the awards season is officially open! Voting for Oscar nominations kicked off yesterday, January 11th, and close on Tuesday, January 16th, with official nominees announced on Tuesday, January 23rd. The Oscars ceremony will be telecast on Sunday, March 10th, on ABC.

This follows the publication of Top Ten Lists and choices made by Film Critics groups in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, as well as the nominations for Spirit Awards, the Gotham Awards, the Critics Choice Awards, the African American Film Critics Association ("AAFCA"), and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ). After a year of uncertainty in the film industry, I was happy to be celebrating the art form of cinema both in person at these ceremonies and while watching the Globes telecast at home.

The prizes given at both the Golden Globes and in Palm Springs mirror some of the choices in my own Top Ten List. Having said that, however, this year still feels like it is up in the air, with some of the winners of the Golden Globes being perhaps not as predictable as in the past. Lily Gladstone won the Best Actress—Drama prize for her role in "Killers of the Flower Moon." Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer" was a big winner of the evening, earning accolades for Best Picture—Drama, Director, ActorDrama (Cillian Murphy), Supporting Actor (Robert Downey Jr.) and Score. Yorgos Lanthimos' "Poor Things" won Best Picture —Comedy and Actress—Comedy (Emma Stone), while Alexander Payne's "The Holdovers" won Best Actor—Comedy (Paul Giamatti) and Supporting Actress (Da'Vine Joy Randolph). 

Justine Triet's Palme d'Or winner "Anatomy of a Fall" received prizes for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Screenplay, Greta Gerwig's "Barbie" (the year's top grossing movie) won Best Picture in the new category of Cinematic and Box Office Achievement as well as Best Song for Billie Eilish's "What Was I Made For?", and Hayao Miyazaki's "The Boy and the Heron" was named Best Animated Film. 

Blitz Bazawule and Taraji P. Henson. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Yet while the Globes recipients' comments at the podium were limited in length by a ticking clock, each honoree in Palm Springs were given the time to deliver passionate, thoughtful and in-depth acceptance speeches, many of which brought down the house. The Palm Springs International Film Awards (PSIFF) took place on January 4th at the Palm Springs Convention Center, kicking off its festival running through Monday, January 15th. 

"Killers of the Flower Moon" director Martin Scorsese. Courtesy of Getty Images.

The Palm Springs Gala was hosted by Mary Hart. Martin Scorsese's "Killers of the Flower Moon" received an ensemble Vanguard Award presented by Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear. Those in attendance from the film included director Martin Scorsese along with actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Talee Redcorn, Yancey Redcorn, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, JaNaoe Collins, Jillian Dion, Tatanka Means and William Belleau. It was so good to see Scorsese making the rounds with his epic film. (He was my late husband Roger's favorite director.) 

"Rustin" star Colman Domingo. Courtesy of Getty Images.

This year's honorees at the PSIFF also included "Rustin" star Colman Domingo who was presented the Spotlight Award for acting by Lenny Kravitz. Domingo is in both "Rustin," and "The Color Purple," and the roles are so different that you get to view his stellar acting chops. His speech in Palm Springs was the one that caused the audience to sit straighter and snap to attention. He knows how to command a crowd.  

Another Spotlight Award for acting was given to "The Color Purple" star Danielle Brooks by her co-star Taraji P. Henson and director Blitz Bazawule. Danielle's performance as Sofia resulted in Oprah Winfrey passing the baton to Brooks on a morning talk show, and it was well-deserved. Blitz was also named one of the Variety 10 Directors To Watch awardees. 

Robert Downey Jr. and Cillian Murphy. Courtesy of Getty Images.

"Poor Things" star Emma Stone received the Desert Palm Achievement Award from her co-stars Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe. Emma's achievement in portraying a Frankenstein monster creation come alive is pretty astonishing. Willem Dafoe and Mark Ruffalo complemented the story with aspects of themselves that haven't been seen in previous films. 

"Oppenheimer" star Cillian Murphy was awarded the same prize by his co-star, Robert Downey Jr. In each instance, the person introducing the award winner seemed to have as much fun as the awardee. In the instance of Cillian Murphy, however, he seemed quite shy and reticent in Palm Springs on stage. I was relieved to see him more forthcoming at the Globes. It is rather hard to follow Robert Downey, Jr., however. 

"American Fiction" star Jeffrey Wright. Courtesy of Getty Images.

"American Fiction" star Jeffrey Wright was given the Career Achievement Award by his co-star Leslie Uggams. And the playful flirting between Wright and Uggams enchanted the audience. Wright is always good, but his character Thelonius Monk in "American Fiction" is inspired. Director Cord Jefferson was recognized the next day as one of the Variety 10 Directors To Watch. Let's keep an eye on him. 

The audience was thrilled when Meryl Streep stepped forward to present "Maestro" star Carey Mulligan with the International Star Award. And Streep was very gracious in her presentation. Following Streep's nomination at the Golden Globes this weekend, she is now officially the most nominated actor in the history of the Golden Globes (with 33 nods).

"The Holdovers" star Da’Vine Joy Randolph earned the Breakthrough Performance Award, which was presented to her by her co-star Paul Giamatti, who was given the Icon Award from his "Sideways" co-star Sandra Oh. On the circuit, both Randolph and Giamatti have been touchingly complimentary of each other. And their true affection for the other's performance shows on the screen. I became a fan of Randolph in "Dolemite Is My Name." 

Margot Robbie, Greta Gerwig and America Ferrera. Courtesy of Getty Images.

"Barbie" director Greta Gerwig was awarded the Director of the Year prize, given to her by the film's stars Margot Robbie and America Ferrera. To see these women talk about the breakthrough for women in society as shown in the film was refreshing. Greta Gerwig still seems a bit in awe and disbelief of her achievement. And what a crowning achievement it is.

Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell, who wrote the song "What Was I Made For?" in "Barbie," earned the Chairman's Award, which was presented to them by Greta Gerwig. This was the first time an award was presented to a songwriter in this category and Eilish was over the moon to receive it.  

(From left:) Ilker Çatak, Aaron Schimberg, Titus Kaphar, Cord Jefferson, Anna Kendrick, Kobi Libii and Blitz Bazawule. Photo credit: Variety via Getty Images.

At Variety's 10 Directors to Watch and Creative Impact Awards brunch, Variety has paid tribute to up-and-coming directors who have gone on to win prizes at Sundance, Spirit Awards, Golden Globes, Oscar nominations and/or Academy Awards. The 10 Directors to Watch honorees for this year were Blitz Bazawule ("The Color Purple"), İlker Çatak ("The Teacher's Lounge"), Sophie Dupuis ("Solo"), Cord Jefferson ("American Fiction"), Titus Kaphar ("Exhibiting Forgiveness"), Anna Kendrick ("Woman of the Hour"), Kobi Libii ("American Society of Magical Negroes"), Aaron Schimberg ("A Different Man"), Ena Sendijarević ("Sweet Dreams") and Eva Trobisch ("Ivo"). (Seven of the ten directors were on stage. Sophie Dupuis, Enamor Sendijarevic and Evan Trobisch were not able to attend.)

Left: Penelope Cruz; Right: Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone. Photo credit: Variety via Getty Images.

The Creative Impact honorees included Penélope Cruz for her performance in Michael Mann's "Ferrari." Cruz was presented her prize by Sean Penn. Emma Stone presented her celebrated three-time collaborator, director Yorgos Lanthimos, with a prize for their latest film, "Poor Things." Eric Roth, who co-wrote the script for Martin Scorsese's "Killers of the Flower Moon," received Variety's screenwriting prize from the film's star, Lily Gladstone. The audience  was so appreciative of the genius of Eric Roth, and he was very humble when receiving his award. 

Lily Gladstone and Eric Roth. Photo credit: Variety via Getty Images.

This past Tuesday, the Governors Awards were held, awarding Honorary Oscars to comedy icon Mel Brooks, acclaimed actress Angela Bassett, veteran film editor Carol Littleton and the Sundance Institute's Michelle Satter. With the nominations from the Screen Actors Guild and Directors Guild just announced, not to mention the Critics Choice Awards being broadcast this Sunday, January 14th, on The CW Plus, the awards season is off to a thrilling start, and I look forward to continue participating in this celebration of cinematic excellence.

Chaz Ebert

Chaz is the CEO of several Ebert enterprises, including the President of The Ebert Company Ltd, and of Ebert Digital LLC, Publisher of RogerEbert.com, President of Ebert Productions and Chairman of the Board of The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, and Co-Founder and Producer of Ebertfest, the film festival now in its 24th year.

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