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Sandra Bullock receives Desert Palm Achievement Award at Palm Spring Film Fest

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Academy Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock was presented with the Desert Palm Achievement Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival at its annual awards gala on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Palm Springs, Calif. Bullock was honored for her role in the new film "Gravity." 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, director Steve McQueen, Matthew McConaughey, Bruce Dern, Lupita Nyong'o, Thomas Newman and the cast of "American Hustle." The Festival runs January 3-14, 2014.

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Actress Gena Rowlands made a rare appearance to honor Sandra Bullock. She spoke of how it was so nice to see Sandra grow as an actress and that Sandra has the rare gift of making people cry and laugh all in the same moment. Rowlands was frail tonight and in a touching moment backstage, Sandra Bullock rushed to her friend - obviously happy to see her.

When Bullock finally took to the stage to receive her award, she was just as we see her in her films, funny and not willing to take herself too seriously. It was obvious that she doesn't take praise very well, but she took in stride and was just a delight.

“Sandra Bullock is the epitome of cinematic talent and versatility,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “In her latest and arguably most demanding role as first-time astronaut Dr. Ryan Stone in 'Gravity,' Bullock faces the primal nightmare of being stranded in space with no apparent way of returning. Throughout the entire film, her determination to survive is masterfully portrayed. To this consummate performer who continues to captivate audiences with her artistry, it is our honor to present the 2014 Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress, to Sandra Bullock.”

Past actress recipients of the Desert Palm Achievement Award were Marion Cotillard, Halle Berry, Ann Hathaway, Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams and Naomi Watts.

In "Gravity," Sandra Bullock stars as Dr. Ryan Stone - a brilliant, yet depressed, medical engineer on her first shuttle mission. Heading the mission is astronaut Matt Kowalski, played by George Clooney. The mission goes terrible wrong and it will take Stone all her talents and knowledge to help her survive. "Gravity" was a huge blockbuster film, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. It has grossed over $250 million since its release.

Bullock's career started with the smash hits "Speed" and "While You Were Sleeping." For many years Bullock was considered to be "America's Sweetheart." Her sarcastic humor suited her well for roles in "Hope Floats," "Forces of Nature," "Miss Congeniality" and "The Proposal." Bullock was surprised with the huge success of her film "The Blind Side," along with her Oscar win for her work in the film. Earlier this year, Bullock dusted off her "Miss Congeniality" persona to team up with actress Melissa McCarthy in the smash hit "The Heat." Bullock is currently filming the animated film "The Minions" and it has been announced that she will return to work with McCarthy in "The Heat 2."

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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

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