Viola Davis to Be Honored at Palm Springs International Film Awards | Entertainment Tonight

Viola Davis to Be Honored at Palm Springs International Film Awards

Viola Davis
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for L'Oréal Paris

The 55-year-old actress is the recipient of the Desert Palm Achievement Award.

Viola Davis will be honored at this year's Palm Springs International Film Awards. The 55-year-old actress is the recipient of the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress for her role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

“Viola Davis is one of the most celebrated actors of her generation from her powerful roles on stage and screen including Fences and How to Get Away With Murder," said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. "In her latest film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Davis fully embodies the famous blues singer Ma Rainey in an explosive and memorable performance, which is sure to receive an Academy Award nomination. It’s our honor to present the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress to Viola Davis."

Past winners of the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress include Renée Zellweger, Halle Berry, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Olivia Colman, Marion Cotillard, Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman, Saoirse Ronan, and Charlize Theron.

Also this year, singer-actress Andra Day is the recipient of the Breakthrough Performance Award for The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

"Few jazz vocalists are more beloved than Billie Holiday, and Andra Day brings Holiday and her iconic voice back to life through a sympathetic and nuanced portrayal that sheds new light on the U.S. government’s role in seeking to muzzle a homegrown legend," Matzner said in a statement. "In her impressive feature film debut as an actress and her first leading role, it is our honor to present the Breakthrough Performance Award to Andra Day."

Past recipients of the Breakthrough Performance Award include Mahershala Ali, Mary J. Blige, Marion Cotillard and Cynthia Erivo, among others.

In addition, it was announced that Riz Ahmed's astonishing performance as Ruben in Sound of Metal has earned him this year's Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor. 

"Riz Ahmed delivers one of the most complex and moving on-screen performances of the year," said Matner. "In Sound of Metal, the film tells the emotional journey of Ruben, a musician who learns he is losing his hearing and must deal with this new reality. For this realistic and outstanding portrayal, we are honored to present the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor to Riz Ahmed.”

Meanwhile, Carey Mulligan's performance in Promising Young Woman was more than promising. For her "daring and outstanding performance," the actress is set to receive the International Star Award.

The festival and film awards gala will not take place as an in-person event this year, but honoree selections will be announced to recognize this year's great performances. In addition to Ahmed and Mulligan's recognitions, Mank star Gary Oldman will also be honored with this year's Chairman's Award.

"Oldman plays the role to perfection as the film follows the screenwriter's journey while co-writing the script for Citizen Kane," Matzner said. "We are delighted to recognize one of this generation’s greatest actors with this year's Chairman’s Award."

Mulligan was previously honored at the Palm Springs International Film Festival with the Breakthrough Performance Award in 2011, while Oldman was honored with the Desert Palm Achievement Award in 2018.

Nomadland director Chloé Zhao, meanwhile, makes history as the first woman to ever win the festival's Director of the Year prize, an honor previously bestowed upon Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman), Steve Mc Queen (12 Years a Slave) and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), among others. 

"Director and screenwriter Chloé Zhao's Nomadland is a film that captures the triumph of the human spirit," Matzner said. "Nomadland is one of the most accomplished films of the year and we are delighted to honor our first female Director of the Year."

The Palm Springs International Film Festival and Film Awards Gala will return in 2022. Palm Springs ShortFest is still scheduled for June 22 to 28, 2021. The Film Society has continued to host year-round member screenings and events virtually until theaters are able to open.

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