Tue | Apr 25, 2017

Film awards season begins in LA

Published:Monday | January 5, 2015 | 1:00 AM
Brad Pitt presents the Breakthrough Performance Award Actor at the 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala on Saturday, in Palm Springs, California.
Benedict Cumberbatch (left), and Allen Leech, of The Imitation Game, pose in the press room with the Ensemble Performance Award at the 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015, in Palm Springs, California.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (left), winner of the Director of the Year Award for Birdman, and Michael Keaton at the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala in Palm Springs, California, on Saturday.
Reese Witherspoon, winner of the Chairmans Award, walks on stage at the 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala on Saturday.- Contributed photos
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PALM SPRINGS, California (AP):The first star-studded film awards ceremony of the new year was literally something to sing about.

While not an honoree himself, actor-producer Brad Pitt stole the spotlight with a singalong for a few moments on Saturday night at the annual black-tie gala for the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Pitt travelled 100 miles (160 kilometres) east of Los Angeles, USA, to the desert town of Palm Springs, California, to introduce British actor David Oyelowo, an honoree whose profile is only now on the rise in the US.

Pitt is a producer of director Ava DuVernays historical epic Selma, in which Oyelowo portrays civil-rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr. The festival honoured Oyelowo with its Breakthrough Performance Award for an actor.

In his introduction, Pitt professed his admiration for Oyelowo, both as a colleague and friend, and, at one point, Pitt led the audience in a singalong with lyrics spinning around Oyelowos often-mispronounced last name.

The gala, which attracts numerous locally based Academy voters, who now have ballots in hand, traditionally is the first of each calendar years award season ceremonies, which include approximately two dozen events significant enough to attract major movie stars between now and the Oscars, set for February. 22 in Hollywood.

This is the first time I am a part of (the two-month award season), said Morton Tyldum, director of the Golden Globe-nominated drama The Imitation Game earlier in the evening while doing red carpet interviews. When I saw the schedule, Tyldum continued, I was in shock.

Not so for award season veteran and Palm Springs honoree Reese Witherspoon (Wild), who said, Its a great opportunity for all of us to get together and celebrate this wonderful year of film.

The actress, an Oscar winner for Walk the Line (2005), said, Wonderful performances, wonderful direction and producing. And I feel like it has been a real great, strong year.

At points, love was in the air on the red carpet, as festival honoree Eddie Redmayme (The Theory of Everything) posed for photographers with his new wife, public-relations executive Hannah Bagshawe, and Imitation star Benedict Cumberbatch, briefly stopped for a few snaps with his fiancée, theatre director Sophie Hunter.

Oyelowo actually did photo sessions one with wife, actress Jessica Oyelowo, and three of their four children. The actor returned to pose for photos with DuVernay. Both Oyelowo and DuVernay are nominated for Golden Globe awards, to be handed out next weekend in Beverly Hills.

The last time I was at the Golden Globes I was a publicist for (the movie) Dreamgirls, DuVernay recalled. I was in a black suit on the (standing) side of the room. This time, I have an actual seat. Im very happy about that. So I get to sit down. No matter what I wear, I wont be on my feet. So Im very happy about that.