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Fest Traveler: Whistler Film Festival

The fest will bestow a quartet of bizzers — a scribe, thesps and a helmer — with honors for their work this year.

Jay Baruchel
Variety Screenwriter to Watch (Dec. 1)
Recent triumph: After notching memorable roles in Judd Apatow projects “Undeclared” and “Knocked Up,” as well as voice work in “How to Train Your Dragon,” the Ottawa-born, Montreal-raised actor made his screenwriting debut with hockey comedy “Goon,” which had its world premiere at Toronto.
The judges say:“Reminiscent of the kind of humor in ‘Slap Shot,’… this sports comedy from director Michael Dowse and screenwriters Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg balances the action on the ice with sharply drawn characters off the rink.” — Variety’s Robert Koehler on “Goon”

Patton Oswalt
Spotlight Award for Supporting Performance of the Year (Nov. 30)
Recent triumph: A cult fave as a standup comic and omnipresent as a voice actor in projects ranging from Pixar’s “Ratatouille” to “SpongeBob SquarePants,” Oswalt broke new dramatic ground with his head-turning lead role in “Big Fan.” The thesp is already attracting kudos attention for his supporting role in Jason Reitman’s “Young Adult,” which kicks off the fest.
The judges say:“Oswalt, best known as a standup comedian, brings a kind of brilliance to his performance.” — Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert on “Big Fan”

Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Trailblazer in Animation Award (Dec. 3)
Recent triumph: After years as an animated film storyboard artist — winning an Annie for her work on “Kung Fu Panda” — the South Korea-born Nelson made her directorial debut with this year’s “Kung Fu Panda 2” for DreamWorks. With $637.6 million in worldwide revenue, the film made Nelson the most successful female director ever on her first time out.
The judges say: “What really makes the film work, though, is director Yuh’s sense of timing. She knows how to get in and out of a joke before beating it to death. A quick Pac-Man reference during a chase comes and goes, delighting without ever dragging. The whole movie is that way.” — Detroit Daily News’ Tom Long on “Kung Fu Panda 2” ­

Michael Shannon
Spotlight Award for Leading Performance of the Year (Dec. 3)
Recent triumph: After nabbing a supporting actor Oscar nomination for 2008’s “Revolutionary Road,” Shannon has quickly sugued from an undersung character actor into one of film’s highest-caliber contemporary talents. Collecting accolades for his lead performance in this year’s “Get Shelter” as well as his role on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” Shannon is currently filming “Man of Steel” in Vancouver.
The judges say: “Shannon understands, as few actors do, how madness and the fear of losing control are not pretexts for acting-class histrionics. … He acts with an intuitive understanding of how terror can freeze you up.” — Christian Science Monitor’s Peter Rainer on “Take Shelter”

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