Tag Archives: Outstanding Performers of the Year


Posted by Larry Gleeson

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (January 18, 2020) – Day 3 of the 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG featured a heartening tribute to 2020 Oscar nominated actor Adam Driver, who received the Outstanding Performers of the Year Award presented by Belvedere Vodka. Driver was recognized for his critically acclaimed work in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story.

As he arrived to the tribute, the actor was greeted by SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling, who later presented him with the award. After taking a few questions from young aspiring student journalists on the red carpet, Driver sat down with IndieWire’s Anne Thompson for an insightful conversation and look back at his varied career and beginnings as a U.S. Marine.

Some of the highlights from the conversation included:

  • On shooting the dramatic “fight scene” in Marriage Story with Scarlett Johansson: ”We were supported by a very clear backbone of what we were doing. It was very carefully choreographed. We worked on it very similar to a play…because it was so well-written, blocking came really fast…When we were shooting it, it didn’t feel very dissimilar to what it’s like when you shoot a love scene with everyone naked. Our boom operator is holding the mic, but he’s kind of looking away. There’s such focus given to what we’re doing, and there’s not a lot of conversation in between…there’s two people trying to be as naked as possible.”
  • On working with Noah Baumbach: “It was on our first day of working together we clicked right away…His scripts are very to the letter and feel very much like theatre to me, which I found immediately comforting. I like that he just sets different boundaries than other directors. The lines are the lines. Don’t change them. And how you interpret them is up for grabs.”
  • On his character Charlie’s connection to his ballad of “Being Alive”: “It’s a song that he knows very well. By heart…he’s seen the YouTube clips and probably has the soundtrack. Maybe he even directed a production of it in high school. He knows it implicitly…for the first time he starts to process not the loss of love but love transitioning into something else.”
  • On how being in the military prepared him for acting: “It’s the best acting training…the structure is exactly the same. I mean, the end result is much different, and in one you’re pretending the stakes are life and death, in the other they actually are.”

Just before Driver’s conversation with Thompson, the audience was treated to a montage of Driver’s varied career, including clips from films like Inside Llewyn Davis, Francis Ha, BlacKkKlansman and Star Wars. 

Following Driver’s conversation with Thompson, Durling took the stage to present him with the Outstanding Performers of the Year Award, saying: Adam Driver, in my humble opinion, your acting as Charlie is the best performance by a male in 2019 by far. You bare your soul in this film. You do not rely on makeup. You don’t rely on wardrobe, nor dramatic weight changes. Instead, you wear your emotions on your skin and dig deep.”

Upon accepting his award with a standing ovation from the audience, Driver said: “Acting to me is many things. You know, it’s a craft. It’s a political act. Unfortunately, it’s a business, and it’s a service. I think that acting is a service industry. I’m there in service of the director, the actors and the crew, and the story overall, which is more important. I very much believe in that. I believe in the potential effect of great collaboration. I think movies and films and art can lead people out of the dark.”

Following the tribute, Driver and Thompson headed just outside the theatre for a VIP after party presented by Belvedere, where guests mingled over specialty cocktails, struck a pose in a gif-able photo booth and gathered around warm cozy lounge areas amid the chilly Santa Barbara weather.

The Outstanding Performers of the Year Award recognizes select individuals who have distinguished themselves with exceptional performances in film this past year. Past recipients of the award include Rami Malek, Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan, Steve Carell, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Viola Davis, James Franco, Colin Firth, Penelope Cruz, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Heath Ledger, Kate Winslet and Charlize Theron.

The 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs from January 15-25, 2020. For more information, and to purchase tickets, festival passes and packages, please visit www.sbiff.org.


About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization. Over the past 34 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 95,000 attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and panels, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire people through the power of film. We celebrate the art of cinema and provide impactful educational experiences for our local, national and global communities.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In June 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day. In May 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.


(Source: Press release courtesy of sbiff)


Margot Robbie and Allison Janney Receive Santa Barbara Outstanding Performers of the Year

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Last night at the historic Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, Calif. Alison Janney and Margot Robbie electrified the audience at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s (SBIFF) Outstanding Performers of the Year Tribute. Both Janney and Robbie are nominated for Oscars for their work in the film, I, Tonya. Janney is up for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, while Robbie is up for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. The evening was sponsored by Belevedere Vodka and was moderated by The Hollywood Reporter Award Columnist, Scott Feinberg.

SBIFF Executive Director, Roger Durling, made introductory remarks thanking the SBIFF Board, Board President Lynda Weinman, and the 700 volunteers who make the festival possible each year. And without further adieu, Mr. Durling turned the evening over to Feinberg, his tenth consecutive year participating in the festival.

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Feinberg in his trademark, affable form introduced each actress’s work with a montage of images set to music. A warm Santa Barbara welcome was given and the evening’s main event transpired.

Interestingly, Janney’s father managed an ice rink in Ohio, providing Janney untethered access to skating time. While admitting she was proficient in both ballet and modern dance, Janney jabbed she could not complete the triple axle jump that Robbie did in the film. Janney attended Kenyon College where she was bitten by the acting bug. Fortuitously, she met Joanne Woodward and shared an interesting interaction she had with Paul Newman regarding her experience driving a Volkswagon Scirocco.

Meanwhile, Robbie was on the Gold Coast of Australia working as a “sandwich artist” at a local Subway shop while holding a position at a retail surf shop. A call from a talent agent led to her auditioning for a recurring role in “Neighbors,” a popular daytime television series in her hometown of Melbourne.

From these somewhat humble and inauspicious beginnings, two wildly different and highly successful careers were launched. Janney went on to win six Emmy’s and recently won a Golden Globe for her role as LaVona Golden, Tonya Harding’s mother, in I, Tonya. Robbie, on the hand, left Melbourne to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood. After her initial audition for “Charlie’s Angels Reboot,” fizzled, Robbie scored a coveted spot on the critically-acclaimed though short-lived “Pan-Am,” television series.

As fate would have it, Robbie managed to parlay her early experiences into a reel that first caught the eye of Wolf of Wall Street Casting Director, Ellen Lewis, and then the eye of Director Martin Scorsese for the role of the sexiest blonde on the planet. Robbie got the role. She proceeded to have a similar “hottest blonde” cameo appearance in Adam McKay’s The Big Short. Not wanting to be typecast, Robbie and a few friends started a production company, LuckyChap Entertainment from which I, Tonya is released.

Dreams really do come true.

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The 2018 Santa Barbara International Film Festival Outstanding Performers of the Year, Allison Janney and Margot Robbie with award presenter and I, Tanya Director, Craig Gillespie .(Pictured from right to left; Margot Robbie, Craig Gillespie and Allison Janney. Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)