A ‘Precious’ Gem — How is Gabourey Sidibe handling her new fame and Oscar nom? We ask

The first thing that strikes you about Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe is the voice. It’s not that one expects the star and title character of the Oscar-nominated film “Precious” to talk in the hesitant mumbled tone heard in the film, but rather that her voice is not even East Coast. Sidibe sounds like a bubbly Valley Girl.

This only emphasizes the astonishing job she does in “Precious,” a harrowing yet uplifting drama about an abused 16-year-old African-American girl. Lee Daniels’ striking directorial debut, based upon the novel Push by Sapphire, mixes grim domestic scenes — featuring a monster of a mother played by comedienne Mo’Nique — with glamorous escapist fantasies. Also appearing in the film are Mariah Carey, who disappears under a black wig to play a social worker, and Lenny Kravitz, playing a male nurse.

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The Quiet Man — SBIFF Virtuoso Award recipient Michael Stuhlbarg comes into his own as ‘A Serious Man’

Michael Stuhlbarg talks quietly in run-on sentences, in a warm voice that’s like the light of dawn spreading into a bedroom. This marks a total change from the frantic, desperate Larry Gopnik he plays in the Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man,” who wakes up from a contented middle-class slumber to find everything crumbling around him: his wife is leaving him, his kids ignore him, his job is threatened and he is tempted by a sexy neighbor, Mrs. Samsky. His comic spiritual quest for answers forms the backbone of the movie, but the flesh is Gopnik’s face, the way he moves through the scenes.

Stuhlbarg was born and raised in Long Beach, but his acting career took off in 1989 after graduating from Juilliard, and he’s been working in New York’s theater scene and elsewhere ever since. But it’s only now, in his 40s, that he’s come to Hollywood’s attention. He’s been nominated for a Golden Globe for “A Serious Man,” which itself has been nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture), and now he comes to SBIFF to receive a Virtuoso Award.

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Time to Shine

Sandra Bullock may finally be having her time in the sun. After the critical and popular success of “Speed” and “While You Were Sleeping” in 1994 and 1995, the actress has never been off our marquees, from thrillers and romantic comedies. But the big awards have eluded her, until now.

11 Amazing Days, 10 Starry Nights.

This year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival almost throws down a gauntlet with that slogan: we’ve got so many must-see events, we dare you to get to them all! And we know. We’ve seen those people in line, heck sometimes we’ve been them, too: the hardened determination, the 1,000-yard stare of the film addict. More stories, more inspiration, more celluloid, more tributes, more buzz, more, more, more!

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