'Companion' opened Santa Barbara fest Jan. 26

The powers behind the 27th Santa Barbara Film Festival really know how to pick ‘em, as more than 20 of this year’s Oscar nominees have been skedded to take the ride up the coast over the course of the 11-day extravaganza.

Sony Pictures Classics opened the fest Jan. 26 with its “Darling Companion.” Viola Davis and Christopher Plummer took home honorary acting prizes over the weekend. And on Monday night, Martin Scorsese received the American Riviera Award for his body of work.

A thousand of the director’s biggest fans jammed the Arlington Theater on State Street to join the “Hugo” helmer in a night of reminiscences and celluloid remembrances. Leonard Maltin threw out the questions, Scorsese answered in his rapid-fire staccato style, and the rapt crowd, including Ben Kingsley, cheered, laughed and sighed in appreciation.

“Scorsese is a filmmaker who does not compromise, a giant of the cinema who does not rest on his laurels,” said SBIFF exec director Roger Durling, despite the fact that the 69-year-old director admitted to feeling the need for some rest at the moment.

“The awards circuit has become very arduous,” said Scorsese, who then proceeded to regale the aud for close to three hours with tales and clips from his pics.

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