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Tuesday roundup: Palm Springs film fest honors Helen Mirren; Spike Jones Jr. to produce WGAW Awards; and John Waters' Top 10 movies of 2009

Helen Mirren - Credit Giles Keyte

The Palm Springs International Film Festival gets more prestigious with each passing day. Word comes from the desert that Oscar-winner Helen Mirren will receive the Career Achievement Award for Acting at the 21st annual festival's awards ceremony Jan. 5. Mirren will be feted alongside previously announced honorees Morgan Freeman, Mariah Carey and Anna Kendrick. The Oscar-winning Brit has a lot to celebrate this season. Mirren was nominated this morning as best female lead by the Independent Spirit Awards for her turn in "The Last Station," which also received nods for best film, best director and screenplay (Michael Hoffman) and best supporting actor (Christopher Plummer). ...

The Writers Guild of America West has an executive producer for its upcoming West Coast show: Spike Jones Jr. will oversee the ceremony, which takes place Feb. 20 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. Jones previously directed and produced the WGAW events in 2003 and 2004, the latter of which marked its television debut. He's also served as executive producer of the 2006 and 2007 "Independent Spirit Awards Red Carpet" pre-show, and for the last 15years, he's been producer of the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards. And yes, he is the son of legendary bandleader Spike Jones -- and is no relation to director Spike Jonze. ...

Though John Waters has made a name for himself as one of the most gleeful purveyors of cinematic bad taste for nearly 40 years, fans know he is also a devotee of arthouse and independent cinema, as well as one of its staunchest defenders. ArtForum posted Waters' picks for Top 10 movies of 2009, and the list is a terrific and typically eclectic mix from both worlds. Among his favorites are major award contenders "Broken Embraces" from Pedro Almodóvar and Lars von Trier's "Antichrist," as well as Uli Edel's "The Baader Meinhof Complex" and Lucrecia Martel's "The Headless Woman." Of course, each of these prestigious films gets the Waters treatment. (Of "Antichrist," he writes, "If Ingmar Bergman had committed suicide, gone to hell and come back to earth to direct an exploitation/art film for drive-ins, this is the movie he would have made.") And, in true Waters fashion, he includes two of the year's most taste-challenged films -- Larry Charles' "Bruno" ("it's better than 'Borat' ") and Bobcat Goldthwait's "World's Greatest Dad" among his choices. Makes you wish Waters had veto power on more awards shows.

-- Paul Gaita

Photo: Helen Mirren. Credit: Giles Keyte

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Now, THAT's a curious combination--Helen & Mariah. Will anyone at Palm Springs point out that Mariah's role in "Precious" was written for Helen? That could be a real twist with "Precious" and "The Last Station" being the big guns at the Spirits...



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