Film News: SBIFF Comes Into Focus

By Steven Libowitz   |   November 29, 2022

We’re still nearly 80 days away from the 2023 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which returns after two years of accommodations for COVID to its traditional mid-winter time slot for an 11-day span, February 8-18. But SBIFF’s big gala, the 15th annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film, which will honor Michelle Yeoh at the Bacara, is just around the corner on December 9. The Malaysian-born actress who rose to fame in 1990s Hong Kong action films has become a global icon as an actress and much more – having over the years been named the greatest action heroine of all time, one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World,” and, just this year, one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world. No doubt the award gala – the first since the passing of its namesake Montecito-dwelling screen legend, will put extra attention on her critically acclaimed role in Everything Everywhere All at Once, which is sure to garner her an Oscar nomination for best actress. 

Meanwhile, several of SBIFF 38th year’s acting awards have also been unveiled. The Modern Master, the fest’s most prestigious nod, goes to Jamie Lee Curtis, who has had dual notable roles in theaters this year, on February 11. Most recently she portrayed Laurie Strode in Halloween Ends, returning to a character she first took on 44 years ago, and in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Being busy is de rigueur for Curtis, who has long demonstrated her versatility as a film actress, with nominated and prize-winning roles in such popular classics as True Lies, Trading Places, and A Fish Called Wanda

Cate Blanchett, who 15 years ago was crowned a Modern Master on the heels of her dual roles as Queen Elizabeth in Elizabeth: The Golden Age and one of the metaphorical portrayers of Bob Dylan in I’m Not There, returns to SBIFF for a third honoring interview, becoming the fest’s first two-time winner of the Outstanding Performerof the Year Award. Ten years after being recognized for her Oscar-winning role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, Blanchett will be honored onFebruary 10for her critically acclaimed portrayal of another title character, Lydia Tár in Todd Field’s Tár, which is almost certain to earn her an eighth Academy Award nomination. She also stars in Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio

Brendan Fraser has been tapped to pick up the American Riviera Award on Valentine’s Day 2023 in recognition for his work in both smart independent films and action-packed blockbusters, with his role as Charlie in The Whale, due in December, landing him in Oscarologists’ top spot for an Academy Award at 

The Virtuosos Award, still likely to be the most talent-packed night at SBIFF as eight actors share the stage in one evening, on February 15 honors Austin Butler (Elvis), Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin), Danielle Deadwyler (Till), Nina Hoss (Tár), Jeremy Pope (The Inspection), and Jeremy Strong (Armageddon Time), plus Everything Everywhere All at Once’s Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan, making it four actors from the film receiving awards at SBIFF. 

More to come soon. Visit for details and tickets.  


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