Happy to be No. 3

Palm Springs fest has become a key stop

At Saturday’s Palm Springs Film Fest Gala, board chairman Harold Matzner boasted that the evening was now No. 3 (behind Oscar and Globes) in terms of glamour and global attention. Other kudos events might bristle, but no one would doubt that the gala has become a key stop in awards campaigning.

Evidence of that was in the honorees and presenters: Some combos made sense (James Franco presenting to Danny Boyle, David Fincher to the acting ensemble of “The Social Network”) while others seemed united more by campaigning than logic: Oliver Stone to Jennifer Lawrence, Aaron Eckhart to Robert Duvall.

Jake Gyllenhaal enlivened the evening with his raucous presentation to a pregnant Natalie Portman, saying she’d make a great mother, although her child would need “years of therapy after seeing ‘Black Swan.'”

Javier Bardem avoided other honorees’ solemnity as he joked “I guess ‘international star’ means you don’t understand a word I say.” Mary Hart, the overly chirpy and endlessly talky host, gushed, “Hey, for a guy who was nervous about coming out and speaking English, he did great!”

Diane Warren, honored for her songwriting, paid tribute to Ronni Chasen, who was a key force in linking the festival and gala with the Hollywood kudos circuit.

The black-tie ceremony at the cavernous Palm Springs Convention Center raised $1.3 million for cultural and educational programs as it handed out 11 trophies (other winners: Ben Affleck, Colin Firth, Carey Mulligan, David O. Russell).

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