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After years of pandemic-necessary calendar shifts, outright cancellations, and toned-down events, awards season is back in full force. One dependably early season event that just made its triumphant return, more or less in business-as-usual mode: the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s annual Film Awards Gala.

Launching even before the Golden Globes (and following both the Gothams and the NYFCC gala), the annual event has long been considered as a friendly space for Oscar nomination frontrunners to work out their skills giving an acceptance speech in front of a large audience at the Palm Springs Convention Center — an audience that just so happens to include a sizable amount of Academy members.

For its first show since January 2020 (and the 34th overall) the PSIFF Film Awards Gala on Thursday evening not only handed out trophies to 2022 favorites like Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) and Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), it also brought in several Best Supporting Actor and Actress contenders like “Causeway” star Brian Tyree Henry, “The Whale” star Hong Chau, and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu, plus Best Adapted Screenplay contender Kazuo Ishiguro (“Living”) to present said awards to them.

Though talent mostly avoided roaming the pre-reception, a stroll through the sea of attendees provided plenty of eavesdropping fodder as to which 2022 films the crowd personally thought were best (enter: plenty of talk about “Elvis,” “Women Talking,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” and even “Babylon”).

Before and even during the show, attendees were treated to glimpses of stars interacting with each other, from reunions (like filmmaker Sarah Polley walking over to “The Fabelmans” table to say hello to her “Take This Waltz” stars Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen) or new connections (like Paul Dano heading over to “Living” star Bill Nighy, the night’s International Star Award, Actor recipient, to make an introduction).

When the official show finally began, there was already new blood on stage: first-time hosts Kevin Frazier and Nischelle Turner took the place of fellow “Entertainment Tonight” personality Mary Hart, who had the gig for 19 years but was said to have skipped this year because of scheduling issues.

The first award was given to Danielle Deadwyler for her work in “Till.” As she accepted her Breakthrough Performance Award, Actress, the rising star set a trend for the night, using the setting as inspiration for her speech, comparing her film to the fruits of the palm trees lining the city streets and calling the long-in-the-making cinematic retelling of the Emmett Till injustice “a fruit that’s long been waiting to ripen.”

Polley, who won Director of the Year for her work on “Women Talking,” delightfully recapped an email she sent to her fellow producers when she learned she was to receive the award: “Gee, ​​I’m obsessed with Palm Springs and have tried to crash into this gala before, [but] I have failed. No more!”

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Baz Luhrmann presents Austin Butler with the Breakthrough Performance Award at the 34th Annual Palm Springs International Film Awards

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Palm Springs International Film Society

It was “Elvis” star Austin Butler, however, while accepting Breakthrough Performance Award, Actor, who got the most cheers by shouting out the Palm Springs Tennis Club, which he said was the destination for “the only vacation my family and I had [gone] on” every other year as a kid.

If there were a main character at the ceremony, it had to be Butler, who also was the butt of well-meaning jokes, like Frazier teasing Turner about him being her celebrity crush or PSIFF Board of Directors member Garry Kief cracking that he has “shirts older than he is.” Plus, young “Fabelmans” actresses Julia Butters and Keeley Karsten are clearly also big fans, gasping as he walked past their table, and shooting videos of his speech.

Later, Cate Blanchett pulled double duty by accepting the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress for her work on “TÀR,” and then presenting Viola Davis the Chairman’s Award for her work on “The Woman King.”

When she was on the receiving end, Blanchett was presented her award by Curtis, who happens to be her co-star in the upcoming video game adaptation “Borderlands.” The pair’s zippy back-and-forth garnered the most laughs of the night, first with Curtis saying that she said yes to the gig on the condition they drive from LA to the ceremony together, “which immediately became an achievement competition of its own, as she claims to be a great driver and I had to remind her that I am born and raised in the fucking City of Angels. Driving is one of my fucking top three. I’ve driven to Palm Springs and back high and not high!”

But when Blanchett got on stage, it was time for her to tell her side of the story, joking that Curtis told “me this about what I should wear, and she comes out in her bra and knickers. This is why we nearly missed tonight’s event.”

Of course, other people had laugh lines, like “The Whale” star Brendan Fraser comparing the statue to “Monkeybone” when accepting the Spotlight Award or “The Banshees of Inisherin” star Farrell using his Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor acceptance speech to urge people to search videos of presenter Sam Rockwell dancing. Elsewhere, “Living” star Bill Nighy accepted the International Star Award, Actor with a winking, “I wish I’d known that things were going to turn out like this, I would have raised to be more cheerful in my early life!” Later, Yeoh called the “Everything Everywhere All at Once” cast and crew “the cream cheese, lox, and capers to my everything bagel.” (A holy compliment, indeed.)

Viola Davis

Viola Davis accepts the Chairman’s Award at the 2023 Palm Springs International Film Awards

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Palm Springs International Film Society

Back again, Blanchett drummed up excitement when she used her speech introducing Davis as an audition to work with her, even going as far in her fangirl admiration to share, “I want some of her sass, I want some of her ass.” Davis was game, and she opened her own speech by telling Blanchett, “I would love to work with you, but you can’t have my ass.” Jocularity behind her, the beloved actress then proceeded to captivate the audience with powerful words about the difficult challenges she overcame as a dark-skinned Black actress in Hollywood.

The room fell so silent, clearly so enamored by Davis’ speech, that one could hear its echo as she talked about a plaque she bought on vacation that read, “The warrior does not fight because he hates what is in front of him, she fights because she loves what she left behind.”

Threading the anecdote with not only her speech, but Blanchett’s, the actress said, “My fight is nothing if I leave what I love behind, so I forged through, and I kept waiting at 57 years old. That’s what got me through five hours of serious workouts for eight months during ‘The Woman King,’ because I truly believe after playing many roles —  most of them the Black sidekick to many, many, many women who are Caucasian, which I hope is not the movie I make with Miss Cate Blanchett. Just when the caterpillar thought it was dying, it became a butterfly.”

Closing out the night with the longest standing ovation was Steven Spielberg, who was flanked by the main cast of “The Fabelman” as he concluded the event with a poignant, earnest speech accepting the Vanguard Award.

“It always seems to me that moviemaking is about building a community and trying to find the universal and the particular the threads that unite us, and the threads that make us recognizable to each other,” said the legendary director.

Speaking to both the deeply personal film he released last year, and to many of the sentiments that the actors shared accepting their awards, he added, “And when people see themselves in these characters, that is the greatest reward for me.”

Read the full list of winners below. PSIFF runs through Monday, January 15.

Breakthrough Performance Award, Actress: Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”)
Breakthrough Performance Award, Actor: Austin Butler (“Elvis”)
International Star Award, Actress: Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
International Star Award, Actor: Bill Nighy (“Living”)
Spotlight Award: Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”)
Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress: Cate Blanchett (“TÁR”)
Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor: Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Director of the Year: Sarah Polley (“Women Talking”)
Chairman’s Award: Viola Davis (“The Woman King”)
Vanguard Award: Steven Spielberg, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Gabriel LaBelle, Judd Hirsch, Julia Butters, Sam Rechner, and Keeley Karsten (“The Fabelmans”)


By: Marcus Jones
Title: At Palm Springs’ Annual Film Awards Gala, the Starriest Season (and Its Biggest Names) Is Back
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Published Date: Fri, 06 Jan 2023 21:30:59 +0000

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Baller Awards

‘American Fiction’ Star Jeffrey Wright To Receive Career Achievement Award at Palm Springs International Film Awards

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The Palm Springs International Film Awards has announced that Jeffrey Wright is the recipient of the Career Achievement Award, for his performance in Cord Jefferson’s American Fiction. The Film Awards will take place on January 4, 2024, at the Palm Springs Convention Center, with the festival running through January 15, 2024. The event will be sponsored by Entertainment Tonight and […]


By: Clarence Moye
Title: ‘American Fiction’ Star Jeffrey Wright To Receive Career Achievement Award at Palm Springs International Film Awards
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Published Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2023 02:03:21 +0000

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Frontier Adventure

Should We Send Humans to Venus?

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NASA is preparing to send humans back to the Moon with the Artemis missions in the next few years as part of the agency’s Moon to Mars Architecture with the long-term goal of landing humans on the Red Planet sometime in the 2030s or 2040s. But what about sending humans to other worlds of the Solar System? And, why not Venus? It’s closer to Earth than Mars by several tens of millions of kilometers, and despite its extremely harsh surface conditions, previous studies have suggested that life could exist in its clouds. In contrast, we have yet to find any signs of life anywhere on the Red Planet or in its thin atmosphere. So, should we send humans to Venus?

“Yes, we should send humans to Venus,” Dr. Paul Byrne, who is an Associate Professor of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, tells Universe Today. “But first, let’s talk about what ‘sending humans to Venus’ actually means. The surface of Venus is hellish, so nobody would last long there nor volunteer to go. Above the clouds, the temperature and pressure are almost like a nice spring day here on Earth, so aside from tiny sulphuric acid cloud droplets you’d be okay (with a breathing apparatus).”

These “hellish” conditions that Dr. Byrne alludes to are the extreme conditions across the surface of Venus, including surface pressures 92 times that of Earth’s surface and average surface temperatures of approximately 464 degrees Celsius (867 degrees Fahrenheit). In contrast, Earth’s average surface temperatures are a calm 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit). These extreme pressures and temperatures have made landing on the surface of Venus even more difficult, as the former Soviet Union continues to be the only nation to have successfully landed on Venus’ surface, having accomplished this feat with several of their Venera and Vega missions. However, the longest mission duration for the lander was only 127 minutes (Venera 13), which also conducted the first sound recording on another planet.

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Color images taken by the Soviet Union’s Venera 13 lander on the surface of Venus on March 1, 1982, with the lander surviving only 127 minutes due to Venus’s extreme surface conditions. (Credit: NASA)

“If we were to send humans to Venus, they’d be going in a spacecraft that would fly by the planet en route somewhere else,” Dr. Byrne tells Universe Today. “If we were to one day send humans actually to Venus itself for science and engineering purposes, then a cloud-based habitat is the way to go. Getting humans onto the Venus surface is going to require so much technology and expense that, for the foreseeable future, I don’t think anyone will think it worth doing.”

A 2015 study presented at the AIAA Space and Astronautics Forum and Exposition outlined a NASA study for the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) mission that would involve a 30-day crewed mission using an airship equipped with solar panels within the upper atmosphere of Venus. This is because Venus’ upper atmosphere at approximately 50 kilometers (30 miles) above the surface exhibits much more hospitable conditions, including temperatures between 30 to 70 degrees Celsius (86 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit) and pressures very close to that of Earth. However, Dr. Byrne refers to HAVOC as an “unbelievably expensive concept”.

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Artist rendition of proposed habitable airships traversing Venus’ atmosphere, which has been proposed as the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) mission. (Credit: NASA)

As for using Venus while en route to another location in the Solar System, Venus has been used on several occasions to slingshot spacecraft to the outer Solar System as well as for exploration of the inner Solar System, such as Mercury and the Sun. For example, NASA’s Galileo and Cassini spacecraft used gravity assists

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Baller Awards

Oscars 2024: What to Make of the Gothams and Other Critics Awards to Come


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The Gotham Awards were held the other night, and the results were very Film Twitter-friendly. By that, I mean, no straight white men were awarded. In a lineup of names for Lead Performance, they have stuffed them all into a category together, almost as a dare. They’re daring voters to pick the straight white guy […]


By: Sasha Stone
Title: Oscars 2024: What to Make of the Gothams and Other Critics Awards to Come
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Published Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2023 16:07:44 +0000

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