"12 Years a Slave" Actress Receives Film Festival Award

Thomas Newman earns 2nd honor for film composing

Lupita Nyong'O will receive the Breakthrough Performance Award from the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Courtesy of 12 Years a Slave on Facebook


Lupita Nyong’O, who has wowed audiences with her role in 12 Years a Slave, and film score composer Thomas Newman, who brought the music of Mary Poppins to life in the film, Saving Mr. Banks, will be recognized during the 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala Jan. 4 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Nyong’O, a Kenyan actress who studied at the Yale School of Drama and made her American debut as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave, will receive the Breakthrough Performance Award, while Newman will take home his second Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing.

12 Years a Slave has already gained festival recognition with a directorial award to Steve McQueen.

The Gala will also present awards to previously announced honorees Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Matthew McConaughey, Julia Roberts, Jonah Hill, and the ensemble cast of American Hustle, featuring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence. The film festival runs Jan. 3-13.

“Lupita Nyong’o delivers a raw and deeply moving performance that serves as the fulcrum for the film’s message of the inhumanity of slavery,” says Film Festival Chairman Harold Matzner.

Past recipients of the Breakthrough Performance Award include Mariah Carey, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Hudson, Felicity Huffman, Carey Mulligan and Renner. In the years they were honored, Cotillard and Hudson went on to win Academy Awards, while Huffman and Renner received Oscar nominations.

Nyong’O's stage credits include Perdita in The Winter's Tale (Yale Repertory Theater), Sonya in Uncle Vanya, Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew, as well as the original production of Michael Mitnick’s Elijah. She is also a filmmaker, having served as creator, director, editor and producer of the award-winning feature-length documentary In My Genes. The film follows eight Kenyans who have an unusual trait in common: they were born with albinism, a genetic condition that causes a lack of pigmentation.In February, she will co-star alongside Liam Neeson, Michelle Dockery and Julianne Moore in Non-Stop.

Newman (pictured right) has composed music for nearly 100 motion pictures and television series and has earned 11 Academy Award nominations and six Grammy Awards.

He has contributed distinctive and evocative scores to numerous acclaimed films, including Desperately Seeking Susan, The Lost Boys, The Rapture, Fried Green Tomatoes, The Player, Scent of a Woman, Flesh and Bone, The Shawshank Redemption, Little Women, American Buffalo, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Oscar and Lucinda, The Horse Whisperer, Meet Joe Black, American Beauty, The Green Mile, Erin Brockovich, In The Bedroom, Road to Perdition, Finding Nemo, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Cinderella Man, Jarhead, Little Children, The Good German, Revolutionary Road and Wall-E.

His most recent projects include The Debt, The Adjustment Bureau, The Help, The Iron Lady, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Skyfall and Side Effects. Newman also composed the music for HBO’s acclaimed six-hour miniseries Angels in America, directed by Mike Nichols. He received an Emmy Award for his theme for the HBO original series Six Feet Under.

“Thomas Newman is a master at creating memorable film scores," Matzner says. "In Saving Mr. Banks, he pays tribute to Mary Poppins composers Richard and Robert Sherman through an indelible original score

PSIFF recipients of the Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing previously include T Bone Burnett, Mychael Danna, Alexandre Desplat, Danny Elfman, Randy Newman and Diane Warren.  In the years they were honored Burnett and Danna went on to win Academy Awards, while Desplat, Elfman, Newman received Oscar nominations.

Saving Mr. Banks reveals the untold story of how Disney’s classic Mary Poppins made it to the screen, starring two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar winner Tom Hanks. The film is directed by John Lee Hancock.

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