Actor Bruce Dern was presented with the Career Achievement Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival at its annual awards gala on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Palm Springs, Calif. Dern was honored for his work in his new film "Nebraska." Presented by Cartier, the 25th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala was hosted by television personality Mary Hart. The awards gala also presented honors to Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, director Steve McQueen, Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong'o, Thomas Newman and the cast of "American Hustle." The Festival runs January 3-14, 2014.
Paying tribute to Bruce Dern this evening was his co-star from "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and "Coming Home" - Jane Fonda. Fonda had an extremely warm welcome by the gala attendees. She remarked how Dern had to grow into the party of Woody in "Nebraska," much like her father, Henry Fonda, had to grow into the part of Norman Thayer Jr. in "On Golden Pond," the part she remarked "That won my father the Oscar."
Dern took to the stage reminiscing about making the biker film "Wild Angels" near Palm Springs many years ago. "I'm astounded by what the town has done and what the film festival has done as well."
When speaking about his performance in "Nebraska," he plainly said "Who knew?"
"Let's just admit it, it is a role of a lifetime. I thank Alexander Payne for choosing me to play Woody. I had the script for 10 years, and didn't think Payne really wanted me for the role. But it was Payne's conviction to film it in black and white that delayed the film." Finishing off his comments, Dern said "Bruce Dern can play!"
“Bruce Dern is truly a one of a kind performer,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “His skill at capturing the essence of a character, no matter how complex or unorthodox, is unique and unparalleled. In over 80 feature films, this talent is vividly reflected in such classic roles as the deranged pilot plotting a mass attack in 'Bloody Sunday,' or the scarred Vietnam vet who returns home to find his wife embroiled in an affair with another man in 'Coming Home.' In his latest cinematic endeavor 'Nebraska,' certainly deserving of Award recognition, Dern brings his consummate acting gifts to the role of an inscrutable elderly father who, with his son, journeys to claim a million dollar prize, while ultimately coming face to face with his past. To Bruce Dern, who continues to challenge and delight audiences with each performance, the Palm Springs International Film Festival is proud to present the 2014 Career Achievement Award.”
Past actor recipients of the Career Achievement Award include Helen Mirren, Glenn Close, Morgan Freeman, Robert Duvall, Sally Field and Clint Eastwood.
Earlier this year, Bruce Dern won the coveted Best Actor award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival for his performance in Alexander Payne's new film "Nebraska." The film also stars Will Forte, Bob Odenkirk, June Squibb and Stacy Keach. "Nebraska" tells the story of an old man that thinks he has become a millionaire when he receives a letter in the mail. Although his son (played by Will Forte) knows it is a hoax, he takes his father on a road trip to claim his prize. Along the way, the real prize is the relationship that develops between father and son. Shot in black and white, this is the fourth Payne set in Nebraska, and this film just may be the best of Payne's films set in Nebraska.
Dern’s many film credits include: "Wild River," "They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?," "The Cowboys," "The King of Marvin Gardens," "The Great Gatsby," "Coming Home," "Monster," "Twixt," "Django Unchained," "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte," "That Championship Season," "The ‘Burbs," "The Haunting," "All The Pretty Horses," "Astronaut Farmer," "Black Sunday" and "The Driver."
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Whatever your movie choice this week, please remember your movie theater etiquette: silence your cellphones and no texting, please don't talk during the film and remove your children if they become a distraction to other audience members. Don't forget that laughing, crying and cheering are always approved behavior and even encouraged.
-Kay Shackleton is a film historian with special focus on Silent Films, see her work at SilentHollywood.com