Celebrities Have Their Night in Palm Springs

Palm Springs International Film Festival honors star-studded field

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Fifteen years ago before we knew him as Walter on Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston was a self-described, “fledging, middle-aged writer and director” of an independent film called Last Chance.

Shot on 35mm film in about two weeks as a birthday gift for his wife, Robin, Cranston found an audience to show his “passion project” thanks to the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

“The film festival gave me a venue, gave me an audience to see my little movie, and I will be forever grateful to you for launching a different phase of my career,” said Cranston, who received the film festival’s Spotlight Award, Actor for his starring role in Trumbo during the 27th annual Awards Gala on Jan. 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Cranston is not the first to experience the film festival in another role only to return to be honored for his abilities in front of the cameras. Brie Larson (pictured at right), who was awarded the Breakthrough Performance Award for her role in Room, recalled a similar flashback.

“This festival always holds a very special place in my heart because you screened a short film that I wrote and directed many years before I went to any film festival for acting,” Larson said. “So thank you for that.”

VIDEO: Watch snippets of the stars accepting their awards. Video provided by Getty Video.

Also gracing the convention center stage to receive an award were:

• Alicia Vikander received the Rising Star Award for The Danish Girl presented by her co-star Amber Heard
• Tom McCarthy received the Sonny Bono Visionary Award for Spotlight presented by one of the film’s stars Michael Keaton
• Rooney Mara received the Spotlight Award, Actress for Carol presented by upcoming Una co-star Ben Mendelsohn
• Michael Fassbender received the International Star Award, Actor for Steve Jobs presented by his co-star Kate Winslet
• Saoirse Ronan received the International Star Award, Actress for Brooklyn presented by Paul Dano
• Johnny Depp received the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor for Black Mass presented by the film’s director Scott Cooper
The Big Short (Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Jeremy Strong and Finn Wittrock in attendance) received the Ensemble Performance Award presented by the film’s director Adam McKay
• Cate Blanchett received the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress for Carol presented by her Hanna co-star and fellow honoree Saoirse Ronan
• Matt Damon received the Chairman’s Award for The Martian presented by the film’s director Ridley Scott.

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Awards Gala photos by Lanie Garfield

Cate Blanchett.

Johnny Depp arrives with wife Amber Heard.

Saoirse Ronan with Paul Dano.

Michael Fassbender.

Helen Mirren.

Matt Damon.

Jacob Tremblay from Room.

Kate Winslet.

Kate Winslet and Johnny Depp.

Cate Blanchett dances onto the stage to receive her award.

The Martian Director Ridley Scott hands off the award to Matt Damon.

Harold Matzner, chairman of the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Brie Larson hugs Room co-star Jacob Tremblay with director Lenny Abrahamson.

Michael Fassbender receives his award from Steve Jobs co-star Kate Winstlet.

Johnny Depp acknowledges the Awards Gala audience.

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