Amy Adams will receive the Peter J. Owens Award for Acting, for her performance as Lynne Cheney in Adam McKay’s “Vice”; filmmaker Steve McQueen will receive the Irving M. Levin Award for Film Direction, for “Widows”; and Boots Riley, a favored Bay Area son, will receive the Kanbar Award for Storytelling for his zany Oakland-set satire “Sorry to Bother You.”
“San Francisco and the Bay Area have a politically active persona and an interest in diversity and inclusion that we hope to imprint on these contenders that we champion with awards,” says SFILM Executive Director Noah Cowan.
Cowan was particularly pleased to invite Riley as an honoree. The musician-turned-filmmaker has a long history with the organization, which supported and helped fund “Sorry to Bother You” ahead of its Sundance bow in January. “It’s interesting how that movie continues to linger in people’s minds,” Cowan says. “It seemed like the right thing to do, to support it at home.”
Meanwhile, Cowan praises the “intense and artistically precise” world of “Widows,” and McQueen for vividly bringing it to life. “There are many good directors working today, but few have the distinctive vision and aesthetic control of Steve McQueen,” he says.
And in “Vice,” one of the few films still left to be unveiled this season, Cowan says Adams delivers a showcase performance. He praises the McKay’s ability to harness his commercial instincts and apply them in the worlds of finance (“The Big Short”) and, now, politics. Cowan also marvels at how Adams steals the spotlight from a transformed Christian Bale in a kind of “power behind the throne” narrative.
“It’s one of those reminders of how incredibly versatile she is,” Cowan says. “Her ability to jump between satire, comedy, drama, and actually just be an incredible villain, is what sold us. With a performance of this force, it seemed like a good year to honor her.”
On its second year taking place in the thick of awards season, Cowan says he hopes SFFILM’s Awards Night will continue to carve its own niche in a space dominated by similar events from Palm Springs to Santa Barbara. Part of the goal is to remain selective and purposeful in his and the organization’s annual selections.
“More awards isn’t good enough anymore,” Cowan says. “What people want and need is a unique voice that can actually speak to the qualities of individual contenders.”
SFFILM Awards Night supports various year-round initiatives, including SFFILM Education, which will utilize funds raised to increase the number of Bay Area youth served by film screenings that promote media literacy and inspire meaningful social dialogue; gather student, family, and teacher feedback to build a national platform for sharing lesson plans for current films; and expand the organization’s family-oriented public programming.
The 2018 SFFILM Awards Night will take place Monday, Dec. 3, at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts Exhibition Center.