The young and the recognized : Film festival’s new award honors five at Lobero

Actress Amy Ryan is all smiles as she walks the red carpet to receive her award at the Lobero Theatre on Wednesday night.

January 31, 2008 8:09 AM
Not one, but five upcoming actors received honors Wednesday night at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. In what one actor joked was a sort of “new kids on the block” of stars, the quintet made up of Casey Affleck, Ellen Page, Amy Ryan, Marion Cotillard and James McAvoy was honored with the new Virtuosos Award at a packed Lobero Theatre.
Four of the five actors are up for Academy Awards.
Mr. McAvoy may have been snubbed this year for an Oscar, but his performance in Joe Wright’s “Atonement” has won him many adoring fans, as did his lead role in 2006’s “The Last King of Scotland.”
“Recognition is a bonus,” he said of receiving awards, and added that the knowledge that people are seeing the film is what’s important.
Mr. Affleck is Oscar-nominated for his supporting role in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” where he plays the title assassin. The role, he said, is “the first time I could play a character that complicated.” And he noted that a “good chunk of time in the film” is devoted to each facet.
He followed up “Assassination” with “Gone Baby Gone,” directed by his brother Ben, where he shares screen time with fellow honoree Amy Ryan.
Ms. Ryan, who flew in from sunny Spain to extra chilly Santa Barbara after shooting a film, co-stars in “Gone Baby Gone” as the drug-addicted mother of a missing child. The role earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
Asked if she saw any similar thread running through her four fellow honorees, the actress said, “I see that doe in the headlights look.”
The youngest member of the group, Ellen Page, has come into the public’s consciousness with the teen-pregnancy comedy “Juno,” in which she plays the title character.
She has noted how the film earned her many new young, female fans that have seen the film “three to five times or more.”
The character of Juno can hopefully show young women “the passion that we need” to get through that experience, she said.

Actor Casey Affleck, shown in a digital camera’s viewfinder, is on his way to accept his award
Although Mr. McAvoy and Mr. Affleck attracted many excited fans outside on the red carpet, Marion Cotillard’s fans serenaded her when she stepped out of her limousine. The song of choice was appropriate — “La Vie En Rose” — for the actress who portrays chanteuse Edith Piaf in the film of the same name.
Her transformation through the film from energetic street singer to crippled yet famous star earned her a Best Actress Oscar nod. Her research — through books and film footage — was broad, Ms. Cotillard said, and even though she loved the script there was so much to Piaf’s life that “you could do a lot of movies about her.”
The evening devoted time to each actor, with a career montage followed by an interview with film editor of the Hollywood Journal, Gregg Kilday.
At the end of the evening, all five shared space on the stage for further discussion.
©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

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