Five A-list moments from Palm Springs: Clooney, Pitt and more
Why do we love the Palm Springs International Film Festival? Think of it as famous fish in a barrel — among them Brad Pitt, George Clooney and more.
Far from the luxury enclaves of Los Angeles, some of the brightest stars come together for the annual awards gala and cozy after-party in the desert oasis. Here are our five A-list moments from Saturday's opening fete:
George Clooney meets the French, well, George Clooney: In keeping with our affinity for handsome males, Jean Dujardin caught our eye (and that of the critical mass) for his turn in the well-received "The Artist." The French actor may be a new face for for the U.S. but is quite often referred to as "the George Clooney of France." So what happened when the domestic met the foreign?
"They met near the talent valet," an onlooker told the Ministry. "They shook hands and complimented one another." In a much more thrilling introduction, Dujardin's "Arist" costar Bérénice Bejo got a kiss from Clooney.
"George gave a kiss to Bérénice, and she lit up! She joked that though she's madly in love with Michel [Hazanavicius, director of "The Artist"], that made it the best night of her life," the witness said.
The potty mouths: The pageantry of these galas can test anyone's boundaries for the appropriate. Thankfully, the Vanguard award winners at PSIFF were the gang from "Young Adult" — far from a warm and cuddly film, the filmmakers gave the night some edge.
"If you haven't seen it yet, you're an [individual with questionable taste]," Olivia Wilde said bluntly, presenting the award to director Jason Reitman, screenwriter Diablo Cody and stars Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt.
Not to be outdone, Oswalt accepted the award on behalf of the group and praised the nonstop work ethic of Reitman, Cody and Theron. Of his own craft?
"I [convey blue humor] in comedy clubs," Oswalt said frankly about his bawdy stand-up act. Patton also said he was entrusted with the acceptance speech because his counterparts were, well, hammered.
"The Vanguard award winners are the drunkest," he said, which we at the Ministry like to translate as, "The Vanguard award winners are [clearly the daintiest when it comes to imbibing]."
The gracious: For every potty mouth, there should be one or two speeches that are full of genuine gratitude and that moment of transcendence from show business to showing grace. Those moments belonged to Octavia Spencer and Michelle Williams.
Spencer recalled her long journey to the most celebrated performance of "The Help" and got everyone a little misty when she said her goal was to "walk with kings but not lose the common touch."
Williams, with her pixie cut and breathy thank-yous, paid tribute to Marilyn Monroe, whom she portrays in "My Week With Marilyn."
"She never got the recognition she deserved when she was alive," Williams noted. Her costar Kenneth Branagh presented to her, and Williams stuck close to him throughout the evening as she received kudos on her performance from countless folks.
Jonah Hill, dance machine: Over at the gala's after-party, at the Parker Palm Springs, the "Young Adult" cast continued with libations at a private table and Adrien Brody circulated solo — but the night belonged to Jonah Hill. After presenting an acting prize to his "Moneyball" costar Brad Pitt, Hill took the floor with some blonds at the bash — and danced for hours. We mean, like, danced his face off. Good for you, Jonah.
The inevitable Brangelina: Yes, they came. Yes, everyone was excited. And that's about that. Oh, yes, the cane on the red carpet was because he hurt his knee when he slipped while carrying daughter Vivienne.
Pitt made a tidy speech paying respect to both projects he was praised for this year, "Tree of Life" and "Moneyball." But even Pitt's highlight came courtesy of his "Moneyball" costar.
Brad made sure to thank "my lover, Jonah Hill."
— Matt Donnelly
Photo: Brad Pitt, right, with his Desert Palm Achievement Award and his "lover," Jonah Hill. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press.