Bradley Cooper, Spike Lee, Olivia Colman and other Oscar contenders kicked off Hollywood’s 2019 awards season with an emotional trip to the desert city of Palm Springs.
The Palm Springs International Film Festival gala was a familiar setting for Cooper, who received director of the year honors on Thursday. He had presented the same trophy to his “Silver Linings Playbook” director David O. Russell six years ago, and filmed key “A Star is Born” scenes in the area.
First-time director Cooper choked up while thanking co-star Sam Elliott for his “blind faith,” saying, “It’s just a testament that if you believe in something so strong and you’re willing to work tirelessly, you can get great artists like Sam Elliott.”
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” star Melissa McCarthy and “The Favourite” star Colman both held back tears when talking about their husbands on stage.
Lee, winner of a career achievement award, recounted his early ambitions after being introduced by his “BlackKklansman” stars John David Washington and Adam Driver.
“Growing up in public school in Brooklyn, I would sit in the back of the class,” he said. “I would practice my autograph. Didn’t take any notes. Just practice my autograph. I don’t know why. But I knew one day I would be signing autographs. So this whole thing, as a filmmaker. I think that I didn’t choose film. Film chose me.”
Emily Blunt heaped praise on her “Mary Poppins Returns” director Rob Marshall.
“If what Mary Poppins does for people is come in and infuse a sense of wonder and hope and joy, well then ... you are our Manny Poppins, always and forever,” she said.
Colman made one of the night’s few nods to real-world politics. She called Queen Anne, her character in “The Favourite,” ‘’someone in whom resides all the madness, frustration, confusion and instability of a powerful person unfit for their job. I don’t know if you know of anyone like that.”
“Green Book,” a race-focused story set in the 1950s and inspired by a true story, was given the Vanguard Award at the event. On the red carpet, star Viggo Mortensen pushed back against what he called “extremely unfair” recent media reports questioning the historical accuracy of the film.
Honorees at the black tie optional gala dinner will be seeing plenty more of each other. All the individual award winners are also nominees at the Golden Globe Awards, to be held Sunday in Beverly Hills..
Sony Pictures Classics
Breakthrough Performance Award
Twentieth Century Fox and Regency Enterprises
Spotlight Award, Actress
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Participant Media, DreamWorks Pictures and Universal Pictures
Sonny Bono Visionary Award
Netflix and Participant Media Present, A Netflix Original Film, Produced by Esperanto-Filmoj
Director of the Year Award
A Star is Born
Warner Bros. Pictures, Live Nation Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures
If Beale Street Could Talk
Annapurna Pictures, PASTEL and Plan B Entertainment
Career Achievement Award
Desert Palm Achievement Award
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Amazon Studios, produced by Plan B Entertainment in association with Big IndiePictures
Ensemble Performance Award
Mary Poppins Returns
Walt Disney Pictures