Bad weather didn’t dampen spirits at the 19th edition of the Palm Springs Film Festival gala on Saturday.
With the ceremony, hosted by “ET’s” Mary Hart, moving at a brisk pace, awards were quickly presented to Nikki Blonsky, James Newton Howard and Emile Hirsch, before Jamie Foxx took to the stage and enlivened the crowd.
He exhorted the band, saying “Give me some more, let’s warm it up.”
Foxx, who was presenting the Sonny Bono Visionary Award to Joe Wright, compared the Brit helmer to Martin Scorsese and David Lean. “He’s very young and very English,” he added.
Wright seemed a bit puzzled by the Dale Chihuly glass creation that was his prize. He kept peering into it and was distracted during his thank you speech.
“Most of my crew have been with me from the beginning,” he said. “We go to these corners of England and make these films, and then I come Palm Springs and get this award, and it’s difficult to see the correlation between the two.”
Sean Penn, who received the director nod, said he didn’t care too much for awards ceremonies in general.
“There is mutual admiration on the stage. It’s mutual masturbation,” he declared.
But he added that he was willing to participate because “we make films to share them, and this is what gets butts in seats.”
The Writers Guild strike was a running theme, and Hart repeatedly said she hoped that this awards season wouldn’t be a washout.
Drew Barrymore, who presented the Chairman’s Vanguard Award to “Juno,” made a point of naming its writer to general applause. “Diablo Cody wrote the most incredible script I’ve ever read,” Barrymore said.
Presenter Bruce Willis also referred to the strike several times, saying, “There is a strike, and I’m making up this as I go.”
By the time the presentation got toward the end of the list — Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Jerry Weintraub, Halle Berry (presenter John Singleton said, “She’s made some classics and she’s done some stinkers”) and Daniel Day-Lewis, the cast of “Hairspray” — guests were departing in droves, leaving John Travolta to tell several empty tables, “As a mother I’m proud of all my babies. I started my career in musicals as a man, I returned 30 years later as a woman, but no matter the part, I’m reminded of how complex musicals are.”
The fest opened Friday with Helen Hunt’s directorial debut “And Then She Found Me” and closes Jan. 14.