Malibu Seen: Desert Doings

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Producer Alan Hamel and Malibu’s Suzanne Somers make a red carpet arrival at the 27th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Before you can gaze into the Oscars or get into the Globes, you can cast your eyes into the desert sands of Palm Springs, which (unofficially) rings in the movie award season. Loads of local film fans like Suzanne Somers gathered at the Palm Springs Convention Center to pay tribute to this year’s nominees. 

This is no tiny small town affair — it attracts some of the biggest names in Hollywood and in the past three years, 28 Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) honorees have gone on to Academy Award nods. 

First up was Amber Heard who presented the rising star award to Alicia Vikander who just happened to be her co-star in the acclaimed film “The Danish Girl.”

She drew applause when naming her other co-star Eddie Redmayne and thanking director Tom Hooper “for giving a Scandinavian actor a chance.”

The film is set in Copenhagen in the 1920s where Alicia plays a woman whose husband makes the transition in one of the first known sex assignment procedures. 

She also had thanks for all the people who helped her prepare for the film, including the “generosity and honesty from people in the transgender community, their friends, loved ones and partners.”

Michael Keaton was also back in the spotlight, presenting the Sonny Bono Visionary Award to director Tom McCarthy.

Another one of the gala’s highlights came from Steven Soderbergh who presented a video tribute to the late great Jerry Weintraub — the force behind the series of “Ocean’s” movies, as well as the Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra.”

Brie Larson picked up the breakthrough performance award for her role in “Room.”

Rooney Mara picked up the spotlight award for her role in “Carol.” She says she initially turned down the role but director Todd Haynes motivated her and changed her mind. “Now,” she told the audience, “I can’t imagine not having that experience.” 

Kate Winslet, who took on a tough role in “Steve Jobs,” presented the international star actor award to her onscreen cohort Michael Fassbender. Expect to see more of them in the weeks to come.

Paul Dano — who performed true perfection as the lead Beach Boy in “Love and Mercy” — presented the international star award to Saoirse Ronan for her performance in “Brooklyn.”

So while a few of these pictures and names may be unfamiliar to you now, look for them to be household standbys when the academy rolls around.