Final Oscar nomination ballots are due Friday and the season is igniting with contenders rolling from one event to the next — no voter left unturned. Capping a furious week of campaigning and leading into another one, the Palm Springs International Film Festival staged their annual awards gala Saturday night at the cavernous Palm Springs Convention Center and drew a starry group of contenders who tried out their speeches on a ritzy crowd who obviously lives for this show each year. That it falls right in the middle of Oscar voting is totally by design and the reason the fest can draw its A-list of talent that included photog magnets George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Michelle Williams and Charlize Theron, among others. When Pitt and supportive significant other Angelina Jolie came to the Sony table in the middle of the room, there was a tidal wave of locals with iPhones who descended on them, snapping away and pushing me, among others aside. (I actually ran smack into Jolie, who told me “this is wild. I’m not sure what to make of it. I think I need a glass of wine just to soak it all in.”) I guess the crowd figured they were entitled to become paparazzi for a night since many of them paid $1500 to be there; the event raised $1.6 million for the fest according to chair Harold Matzner, who claims the event is second in glamour only to the Golden Globes. Pitt managed to brave the face-lifted Palm Springs throng while walking with a cane, this after he tripped a few days earlier on a ski trip with one of his kids.
Of course there are many more of those to come, and members of the Palm Springs group of awardees and others will be in accepting or presenting mode all week long at events including the New York Film Critics, National Board of Review and LA Film Critics banquets, the annual AFI lunch, the Critics Choice Movie Awards, and finally the Golden Globes. With parties planned this week for DreamWorks Animation’s Puss In Boots, The Weinstein Co and Paramount to name three, this period leading to the CCMAs and Golden Globes is now officially the busiest of the whole season, especially since new Academy rules that allow all this stuff pre-noms also put the kibosh on most of it post-noms. The town is gonna have to dry out anyway. How much can you take, Hollywood? (more…)