The final week of the 28th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival ended with a bang as an all-star lineup of A-list celebrities embarked on the historic Arlington Theatre, leaving scores of satisfied fans in their wake.
Quentin Tarantino stepped in for Leonardo DiCaprio to receive the American Riviera Award on Wednesday night, Amy Adams accepted the Cinema Vanguard Award on Thursday night, and Jennifer Lawrence collected the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award on Saturday night.
Tarantino’s rock-star persona was met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation that was tempered by his sincere amazement at the size of the proceedings and the enthusiasm of the crowd.
Dressed casually in a leather jacket with jeans and Adidas tennis shoes he repeatedly thanked the crowd, and shared his own excitement at watching the short montage of clips from his popular but controversial films.
“Just for the record, I’m loving looking at these movies,” Tarantino said.
Moderator John Horn of the Los Angeles Times asked him about his technique of writing scripts in longhand, and Tarantino’s answer brought rapturous laughter from his crowd of fans when he replied, “I can’t write poetry on a computer, man.”
Tarantino also acknowledged the difficulties he faces during the writing process with piles of paper, because “My problem is not writer’s block. My problem is I can’t stop writing.”
One example he shared was the 40-minute basement scene from Inglorious Basterds that was never intentional but an example of how with his writing, “I can tend to go long.”
During an evening that focused more on the writer’s pen then the director’s camera, Tarantino shared his preference that actors not improvise with his literary-style scripts.
“Actors aren’t there to riff,” he said. “They’re there to say my dialogue. If their riffing is genius I will take credit for it.”
His genre-based films include robbery, kung fu, westerns and car chases that keep him disciplined within a structured start and endpoint to “deliver the goods” and “transcend the genre,” he explained.
SBIFF executive director Roger Durling was effusive in his praise for Tarantino, clearly demonstrating that he was not only the award presenter but also a huge fan.
“Quentin Tarantino is in my book a rock star, he’s badass, he’s a true icon in modern cinema and the only filmmaker since Alfred Hitchcock who has made his persona as much a brand as his film,” Durling said. “My love of Tarantino lies in his writing ability. For me, listening to a Tarantino character speak is like listening to music.”
The crowd echoed Durling’s enthusiasm and Tarantino continued the goodwill, praising the film festival and the beauty of the Arlington, a theater that he was first introduced to by Daryl Hannah on a trip to Santa Barbara to go horseback riding.
“This is an awesome festival,” he said. “It’s so good that you guys have such a cool film festival. Take advantage of it. Get the season passes. See two, three movies a day.”
For the future, Tarantino suggested that a television mini-series might be worthy of serious consideration, “as television is starting to match movies,” he said. He also alluded to the idea of another movie that would add to the loose trilogy of Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained.
Tarantino also acknowledged the paradox of stumbling across his films on cable television, stemming from a conversation he had with director Paul Thomas Anderson, who told him that, “when you come across your movies on those cable channels you never wish they were longer.”
“Santa Barbara has great and glorious taste in giving her this Cinema Vanguard Award,” Anderson said. “And it’s just a good reminder to her that we’re all very happy when she shows up on the big screen.”
Also from The Master, tucked away in the audience was surprise guest Joaquin Phoenix, who was there to support his co-star.
Earlier in the evening from the red carpet, Adams shared with Noozhawk her interest in the film.
“Paul Thomas Anderson to begin with attracted me to The Master,” she said. “Joaquin Phoenix — I’m a huge admirer of his work. Philip Seymour Hoffman I’ve worked with.
“I mean it was really just an embarrassment of riches on the film. And an opportunity to play a role that challenges me to dig deeper into my psyche and find something inside myself.”
Deadline Hollywood’s Peter Hammond sat down with Adams following a montage of clips from her performances, including her four Oscar nominations for The Master, The Fighter, Doubt and Junebug, which led to an emotional moment from Adams discussing the depths that an actor must go to film a scene.
“I’ve worked with actors — I’m getting emotional,” she said, pausing. “I’ve worked with actors who have this ability to live in a place and go to a place that I can’t even begin to understand and I so respect them.
“But I’ve just always been a little too scared to stay there. So I really respect when actors can do that and come back to any sense of themselves.”
Adams’ big break came while working at a dinner theater in Minnesota when she was cast in Drop Dead Gorgeous, starring Kirsten Dunst. She later worked with Shannen Doherty on the television show Charmed before being cast in her breakthrough film, Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can with DiCaprio.
And with the rising tide of her success she hopes that at the age of 38, she said she hopes “this is only the beginning.” Indeed, her future looks bright with two iconic roles coming up: Lois Lane in Man of Steel and Janis Joplin in Get It While You Can.
“They’re different challenges and they’re definitely iconic but I’ve never shied away from a challenge,” said Adams, clad in a polka dot dress by Jenny Packham. And she elaborated on the upcoming role of Joplin: “We’re not currently shooting and still in prep, so I’m just doing as much research and pulling myself inward to find the real person behind the icon.”
Praised as a versatile actor and one of this year’s hottest celebrities, Lawrence lived up to the hype and the buzz at the Arlington on Saturday night, when she received the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award for her Oscar-nominated role of Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook.
When asked how it felt about being an Oscar nominee again, Lawrence responded to Noozhawk on the red carpet that, “It’s amazing. I’m still pinching myself that this is actually happening.”
And the actress, who turned 22 last August, graced the red carpet in a stylish navy jumpsuit by Stella McCartney, telling Noozhawk that she hasn’t even thought about writing an acceptance speech but that she’s looking forward to attending the Oscars.
Durling was the moderator for the evening and introduced a montage of clips that he called a “valentine” to this young actress with classic traits, including scenes from movies with Carole Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck, Diane Keaton and others that ended with Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook.
Lawrence first explored acting opportunities at the age of 14, visiting New York during spring break from her hometown of Louisville, Ky., and eventually landing roles in the Garden Party and The Poker House, followed by her breakthrough Oscar-nominated performance in Winter’s Bone as Ree, a child working hard to keep her family intact in the Ozark Mountains.
For the role of Ree, she was initially told at an audition in Los Angeles that she didn’t have the right look. When the auditions moved to New York, she took a red eye and, “I didn’t shower or wash my face.”
Later this year, she’ll reprise her series role in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Also due this year is the lead role in Serena with Bradley Cooper, and next year she’ll reprise her character in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
As a gifted actress who had predominantly done independent movies, Lawrence was hesitant about joining The Hunger Games franchise and “saying yes to something that will completely change your life,” she said.
But it was her mother’s encouragement that pointed out the hypocrisy of Lawrence not wanting a big Hollywood movie when her roles had always been selected based on her interest in the character and story. And The Hunger Games was something Lawrence enjoys; in hindsight she has no regrets for accepting the role.
Director David O. Russell of Silver Linings Playbook was on hand to present the award to Lawrence and remarked that when, “Jennifer was outside, because she’s so special and her energies are so special, there was an amazing energy outside with all those people.”
Russell shared that when he was casting Silver Linings Playbook he wanted an actress who, “every time I watch her walk onscreen my heart does stop a little bit.”
“I’ve watched the film with a hundred audiences and I think they feel a little bit, too,” he said.
Earlier in the evening, Lawrence had returned the favor, saying that working with Russell “was the best experience of my life.”