It was a starry Friday morning at the Parker Palm Springs, where celebrities ranging from Bradley Cooper to Olivia Wilde to Emily Blunt gathered at the Creative Impact Awards brunch feting the 22nd edition of Variety‘s 10 Directors to Watch.
On this year’s list of helmers on the rise: Ali Abbasi (“Border”); Alejandra Marquez Abella (“The Good Girls”); Bert & Bertie (“Troupe Zero”); Pippa Blanco (“Share”); Cooper (“A Star is Born”); Kent Jones (“Drake”); Tayarisha Poe (“Selah and the Spades”); Alonso Ruizpalacios (“Museo”); Lulu Wang (“Farewell”); and Wilde (“Booksmart”).
Cooper “took a film that has been made and remade multiple times before and found something personal to express with it, made a film about the power of celebrity and about what your voice can do and it’s one of the most incredible debuts I’ve seen in a long, long time,” said Variety chief film critic Peter Debruge of Cooper’s “A Star is Born.”
Presented by AT&T and coinciding with the 30th Palm Springs Film Festival, the festive brunch, also sponsored by Cadillac, was packed with some of this year’s most talked-about talent, both in front of and behind the camera, including “Black Panther” helmer Ryan Coogler, honored with the Creative Impact in Directing Award; Blunt, who received the Creative Impact in Acting Award for her work in “Mary Poppins Returns” and “A Quiet Place”; and singer-songwriter Troye Sivan, who received the Creative Conscience Award for his work partnering with the Ally Coalition and the Trevor Project on his Bloom Tour, empowering and supporting the LGBTQ community, and helping to eradicate gay conversion therapy.
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“He has a grace of strength to him that makes you just want to be with him and as a director that’s one of the great qualities that as an actor you look for, that comfortability and that collaboration that allows you to take risk and do whatever it takes in front of the camera,” said Michael B. Jordan who, along with “Black Panther” co-star Danai Gurira, presented Coogler with his award.
“I can’t think of how many times I’ve sat in a theater and been impacted and emotionally moved and walked away with questions about life, questions about myself,” said Coogler. “That’s what brought me to this industry, that’s what brought me to this art form.”
“I have to say that this year with ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ and ‘A Quiet Place,’ it’s sort of been emblematic of some sort of acting dream for me, the Jekyll and Hyde-ness of the two projects,” said Blunt, who was introduced by Disney’s president of production Sean Bailey.
“The joy I felt playing this fantastical nanny, bringing back childlike wonder and turning even a bathtub into something extraordinary, to the joy I felt hearing the dread-inducing screams of the people watching me give birth in a bathtub — there’s sort of running theme that I really wanted it to be — a year of bathtubs. They were both equally joyous experiences actually,” Blunt recalled.
Blunt added, “To be given an award that is about having a creative impact of some sort is something that I am so appreciative of because I don’t see creativity as a luxury, I see it as a necessity. It’s very much a part of being human.”
Speaking to Variety‘s Marc Malkin on the red carpet, Blunt revealed that she’d love to reprise her role as Mary Poppins in a sequel. “I miss playing her!” she said. “I would love it.”
Regarding a sequel that’s actually been confirmed, Blunt said her husband and “A Quiet Place” co-star John Krasinski is in “a writing cave” already for the follow-up to the hit thriller. “First of January, he went to the gym, and he came back, and he was like, ‘I’m starting.’ So he’s kind of plotting it all out.”
Sam Brinton, head of advocacy at the Trevor Project, lauded the humanitarian efforts of Troye Sivan in their remarks, noting that the “archaic practice” of gay conversion therapy “is still legal in 36 states around the country,” and that Trevor’s partnership with the Bloom Tour has afforded them the opportunity to “talk to more people, more directly about the dangers of conversion therapy …educating people at every tour stop about our initiatives. We gave Troye’s fans the chance to advocate, the chance to help LGBTQ youth and to support causes that really matter to Troye.”
“I never wanted anyone to be able to tell me to stay in the closet, I never wanted anybody to hold that above my head,” said Sivan when accepting his award. “It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life. But past that point, so many people that have been involved in getting me to the place where I am now, I honestly feel, really with the people behind me, I feel completely like I can do anything, say anything, and as an LGBT person that is an absolute kind of privilege that I wasn’t sure that I would ever have.”