A hefty quotient of star power turned out Saturday for the Palm Springs Film Festival gala, emphasizing the confab’s prominence in the season’s kudos race.
An injured Brad Pitt used a cane to navigate the Convention Center red carpet, but was in fine form as he accepted the actor award. Pitt thanked Bill Pohlad for backing “The Tree of Life” and Amy Pascal for having faith in “Moneyball,” “no matter how many times she had to shut it down.”
The heavy glass trophies designed by Dale Chihuly provided an easy target for humor. “It really is a bong,” said George Clooney, who was given the fest’s top honor, the Chairman Award. “Most people don’t get to love their jobs. What the producers don’t know,” Clooney added, is that “actually we’d do it for free.”
Berenice Bejo persuaded co-presenter Jean Dujardin to speak, saying, “Everybody wants to hear your voice.”
Michel Hazanavicius, who won the Visionary award, congratulated “The Artist” producer Thomas Langmann, reminding him, “I said never to invest your own money, but he did, so thank you.”
The scope of international star winner Gary Oldman’s clip montage impressed the crowd, as presenter Adrien Brody exclaimed, “Holy shit, that’s a reel!”
Actress winner Michelle Williams said she wished Marilyn Monroe in her lifetime could have had the experiences she had at the gala.
The career achievement award went to Glenn Close, who channeled memorable characters Cruella de Vil and “Fatal Attraction’s” Alex Forrest, and brought her career full circle by explaining, “My journey as an actress kind of began with Albert Nobbs.”
This year’s fest featured two after-parties: a celeb-laden affair at the Parker, where spotlight award winner Jessica Chastain and breakthrough performance winner Octavia Spencer hit the dancefloor, and a laid-back fete at the Ace Hotel heavy on European festival filmmakers.