Hollywood trekked to the desert Tuesday night for the loose and louche affair that was the Palm Springs Film Festival’s annual awards gala. Honorees clearly enjoyed the pre-dinner cocktails, sharing — and, in many cases, over-sharing — on stage.
Jeremy Renner, a breakthrough prizewinner for his lead in Iraq War bomb squad thriller “The Hurt Locker,” noted that the last time he was in the desert he was wearing a “much happier suit and had explosive diarrhea.”
When scribe Diablo Cody presented Quentin Tarantino with his Sonny Bono Visionary Award, the helmer said, “Is this me or does this look like a big bong?”
Presenter Mary Hart, hosting for the seventh year, handled the edgy bon mots like a pro, offering ad-libs like, “Who says we don’t have fun here?” She also admitted not knowing what “a spliff” was, after T Bone Burnett divulged his formula for keeping Jeff Bridges happy: “Working for The Dude, you show up with a guitar and a spliff.”
Rolling with the night’s nuttiness, Sean Penn, who presented the film composing kudo to Burnett, started with, “You think anything’s gonna make You Tube tonight?” Then, before reading a lengthy ode to Burnett, Penn admitted, “Best-laid plans of mice and men: I intended to do this in absolute sobriety, so forgive me if I squeak.”
That YouTube moment manifested in Mariah Carey’s speech, an extended and wayward exchange with her “Precious” director, Lee Daniels. (US Weekly described it as “slushy,” while the Kansas City Star awas more plainspoken in its assessment: “Mariah Carey: Drunk or not?”)
Norman Jewison felt it was appropriate that “one of the oldest” helmers honored Palm Springs’ youngest directing award recipient, 33-year-old Jason Reitman, who said he couldn’t explain how good it felt to hear Jewison speak about him: “It feels just as good as Mariah Carey feels right now!”
Michelle Pfeiffer showed up to present Bridges with his prize for “Crazy Heart,” asking “How many actors can vomit all over themselves and still look sexy?”
Bridges admitted he’d turned down “Crazy” the first time it came his way because it didn’t have any music. He then teamed with Burnett on the pic and set the record straight about the music man’s role on their prior movie sets. “Bone said he was my assistant (on “Heaven’s Gate”); he was actually my maid.”
“Nine” helmer Rob Marshall presented his lead, Marion Cotillard, with her award. The French actress previously won the breakthrough prize (and later, the Oscar) for “La vie en rose” in the desert city. Cotillard confessed her love for Palm Springs: “It’s where I had, for the first time, a feeling something was waiting for me in America.”
Clint Eastwood honored Morgan Freeman with the lifetime achievement award, while Freeman gave Mirren hers.