EXCLUSIVE: The 28th annual Palm Springs Film Festival has completed its list of honorees with the selection of Andrew Garfield as this year’s recipient of the Spotlight Award for his role in Hacksaw Ridge. Garfield plays Desmond Doss in the true story of the first conscientious objector to win the Congressional Medal of Honor after saving 75 men — never even touching a gun — while serving as a medic during the bloodiest battle of World War II. Garfield is also seen this season as a Jesuit priest in 17th century Japan in Martin Scorsese’s Silence, which opens Friday.
“Andrew Garfield is one of the most versatile actors today and this is proven with his tremendous and critically acclaimed performance this year in Mel Gibson’s award winning film Hacksaw Ridge,” said festival chairman Harold Matzner.
Previous recipients of the Spotlight honor include Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, Julia Roberts, Rooney Mara, JK Simmons, Helen Hunt and Amy Adams. All went on to receive Oscar nominations in the year they were honored at PSIFF, with Simmons winning. Garfield is on that track, having already received SAG, Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice nominations for the role.
Garfield joins this year’s previously announced honorees including Adams (moving over to the Chairman’s Award this time), Tom Hanks, Annette Bening, Casey Affleck, Mahershala Ali, Nicole Kidman, Ruth Negga, Natalie Portman, and the casts of both Hidden Figures and La La Land. All are in the hunt for Oscar, of course. and PSIFF is a key stop along the way — earning lots of publicity and photos for contenders right as nomination balloting is underway.
In the case of this year, Oscar voting opens a little later than usual on January 5, concluding on January 13. The PSIFF Awards Gala is being held on Monday, January 2, so timing is good for these contenders. Unfortunately, both last year and this year the festival has been forced to juggle its dates for its gala so as not to collide with Golden Globe weekend just a few days later. Holding the event on the official New Year’s holiday (since New Year’s Day actually falls on a Sunday this year) means competing for attention with football games, parades and generally the holiday mood. But Hollywood’s Oscar train can’t even stop for that, so expect to see Garfield and all these other hopefuls hightail it to the desert that day.
The actual film part of the film festival doesn’t have its official opening night until later in the week, on January 5.