Sandra Bullock poses backstage at the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Saturday

Hollywood’s finest stars shine

Sandra Bullock shared the painful results of Googling herself, Meryl Streep shadowboxed on-stage, and Tom Hanks braced for awards season’s “celebrity mule train” at the year’s first glitzy Hollywood gala.

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Sandra Bullock shared the painful results of Googling herself, Meryl Streep shadowboxed on-stage, and Tom Hanks braced for awards season’s “celebrity mule train” at the year’s first glitzy Hollywood gala.

Matthew McConaughey, Julia Roberts, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper were among the stars who cracked jokes and praised one another Saturday night at the opening of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, a desert warmup of sorts for more closely-watched industry events in coming months.

Honours were announced well in advance and the ceremony wasn’t televised, lessening pressure on winners and allowing for self-effacing, sometimes lengthy acceptance speeches.

The festival is celebrating its 25th year but it’s only relatively become a star-studded stop on the awards circuit.

U2’s Bono spoke passionately about artist activism and the fight against AIDS. Bruce Dern reveled in industry praise for his Nebraska after a half-century career, saying: “A bunch of you seem to have gotten together and to have said, ‘Bruce Dern can play.”’ Presenters included Gary Oldman, Ewan McGregor, Idris Elba and Jane Fonda.

Bullock, also nominated for Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards for her performance as an astronaut in Gravity, delighted the crowd of over 2,000 by reading online comments about herself.

“Julia (Roberts), apparently you and I are in a dispute over George Clooney. We talked about this. It’s shared custody and we both are fine with it,” she joked.

McConaughey, honoured for his lead role in Dallas Buyers Club, also proudly noted his movie Mud and small part in The Wolf of Wall Street.

“I had a sensational year of acting,” he said, wearing a bowtie and shimmering gold tuxedo jacket.

Streep, who stars alongside Roberts in August: Osage County and is also up for Globe and SAG honours, was given the festival’s icon award.

“I don’t feel like an icon. Most of the days I feel like ‘I can’t’,” she said.

But, she allowed, jabbing fists toward the crowd, “I feel like I’m an example now in my dotage of the fact that you just can’t put those old gals out to pasture. We’ve got a lot of stuff still to say.”

There was self-congratulation all around at the quality of awards season films, from 12 Years A Slave, whose director Steve McQueen was honoured, to American Hustle, whose cast received an ensemble award.

Several actors noted that they had been catching up on colleagues’ movies with DVD screeners and visits to the theatre.

“We put out a damn good product,” McConaughey said. “We’ve got challenging films. We’ve got stories of isolation, survival, history, con men, scams. A lot of these films, they walk that tightrope. They have that combination of two very hard things to have — import and entertainment.”

There will be no shortage of additional opportunities to celebrate said movies, as Hanks noted in accepting the fest’s chairman’s award for his leading roles in Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks.

He and many others gathered Saturday will reunite at the Golden Globes next weekend in Beverly Hills and the SAG awards the following weekend.

“To be invited to the Palm Springs International Film Festival is an honour and a delight beyond words and sometimes beyond reasoning,” Hanks said.

“It means without a doubt that the holidays have come to an end and for a few lucky people the celebrity mule train is just beginning.”

Just Posted

Shale oil producer seeking long-term river water supply

A company behind what is billed as Canada’s first commercial shale oil… Continue reading

Red Deer’s crisis line workers are busy dealing with multiple emergencies

Callers need everything from mental health counselling to their basic needs met

Pleaded guilty: Ex-Red Deer teacher gets 3 years for sex offences against kids

SASKATOON — A former Saskatoon teacher who admitted to sexual offences involving… Continue reading

Rental market picking up in Red Deer

There are fewer “for rent” signs in Red Deer than there have… Continue reading

Alberta government to partially backstop new $2 billion dollar bitumen upgrader

CALGARY — The Alberta government is providing a $440 million loan guarantee… Continue reading

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

OTTAWA — The Canada Food Guide’s familiar food rainbow has been replaced… Continue reading

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps may need to stock up on maple… Continue reading

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

Rugby Canada Hall of Fame a family affair for hard-nosed forward Hans de Goede

Hans de Goede, a hard-nosed lock forward who captained Canada at the… Continue reading

5 burning questions ahead of the Oscar nominations

NEW YORK — The Oscars still don’t have a host, but on… Continue reading

Most Read