Colin Farrell, Brendan Fraser among honourees at 2023 Palm Springs International Film Festival

Award season frontrunners came together for one of the first times on Thursday as festival got underway in Palm Springs, California.
Colin Farrell, Brendan Fraser among honourees at 2023 Palm Springs International Film Festival

By Mike Bedigan, PA Los Angeles Correspondent

Brendan Fraser, Colin Farrell and Cate Blanchett were among the honourees at the 34th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Award season frontrunners came together for one of the first times on Thursday as the festival got underway in Palm Springs, California.

Other Hollywood stars honoured on the first night included Michelle Yeoh, Austin Butler, Viola Davis, Bill Nighy and Danielle Deadwyler.

34th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala – Arrivals
Farrell was honoured with the actor’s desert palm achievement award, following his performance in The Banshees of Inisherin (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

The annual festival returns in-person from January 5th to 16th this year for the first time since 2020, and kicks off the 2023 award season.

Its opening night saw an “in conversation” segment with Fraser about his already critically-acclaimed film The Whale, which has earned him several nominations thus far.

The actor later received the festival’s spotlight award which was presented to him by his co star in The Whale, Hong Chau.

34th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala – Arrivals
Cate Blanchett arrives at the 34th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Speaking to US outlet Variety on the event’s red carpet, Fraser said he was “thrilled” to be back at an in-person festival.

“I hope that I get to meet people that I’ve admired from afar… We’re all back, we can do this again which is thrilling,” he said.

“Everyone who is being honoured tonight, I’m looking forward to having a moment with them and to just appreciate one another’s work.”

34th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala – Backstage
Brian Tyree Henry, left, poses backstage with Danielle Deadwyler, winner of the breakthrough performance by an actress award  (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Fraser is also nominated for a Golden Globe and Critics Choice award for his performance in the psychological drama.

He stars as morbidly obese English teacher Charlie trying to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter, played by Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink.

Farrell was honoured with the actor’s desert palm achievement award, following his performance in The Banshees of Inisherin, and Blanchett received the actress’ equivalent honour for her turn in Tar.

34th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala – Show
Butler was presented with his award by Elvis director Baz Luhrmann (Chris Pizzello/AP)

Speaking to Variety, Farrell praised his co-star Brendan Gleeson, and said their next project together could not come “soon enough”.

“He’s a joy to work with, he comes to it from all the right places, as a man and as an artist,” he told the outlet.

“I love him dearly.”

34th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala – Arrivals
Stephanie Hsu, left, and Michelle Yeoh arrive at the 34th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

The pair have previously worked together under the direction of Martin McDonagh, in In Bruges – with Farrell adding that he would love to work with the filmmaker again.

Yeoh and Nighy were awarded with the international star awards, while Davis received the chairman’s award.

Yeoh posed with her Everything Everywhere All At Once co star Stephanie Hsu on the event’s red carpet.

34th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala – Arrivals
Paul Dano, from left, Steven Spielberg, Michelle Williams and Kristie Macosko Krieger (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Butler and Deadwyler received the breakthrough performances by actor and actress, respectively, and filmmaker Sarah Polley was recognised with the director of the year award.

Butler was presented with his award by Elvis director Baz Luhrmann.

Steven Spielberg’s semi-biographical film The Fabelmans received the vanguard award – with the Oscar-winning director also attending the event.

34th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala
Sam Rockwell, right, presents Colin Farrell with the Desert Palm achievement award for an actor for The Banshees of Inisherin (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Other famous faces spotted on Thursday’s red carpet included Paul Dano, Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell.

The Palm Springs International Film Festival opening night comes less than a week before the Golden Globes on January 10th and the Critics Choice Awards on January 15th.

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