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Billie Eilish, Paul Giamatti’s Emotional Speeches



The Palm Springs International Film Festival’s annual gala recognizing some of the year’s finest achievements in cinema Thursday evening saw several honorees let their guards down, allowing the tearducts to flow.

Mary Hart returned as host for the starry awards gala held at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Billie Eilish and Finneas became the first songwriters ever to receive the Chairman’s Award for their chart-topper “What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie.” Before paying tribute to their parents and recalling their journey as aspiring actors, Eilish got candid about the emotional song’s personal meaning.

She dedicated her award to “Anyone who experiences hopelessness and the feeling of existential dread, and feeling like ‘what’s the point?’”

“We all feel like that occasionally,” Eilish said. “I have really not wanted to be here. Sorry, dark, damn. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling that way. I want to say to anyone that feels that way, be patient with yourself, and know that it’s worth it all. And I think it’s good to be alive.”

“Barbie” writer and director Greta Gerwig presented Eilish and her brother Finneas with the glass trophy, after she herself accepted the Director of the Year award, presented by her stars Margot Robbie and America Ferrera.

Gerwig recalled that when she saw her first movie in a theater — “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” she ran toward the screen and tried to get into the movie. “I will spend the rest of my life running to the screen to get in,” she vowed.

It was an emotional night for many of the honorees. “The Holdovers” star Paul Giamatti, who received the Icon Award from his “Sideways” co-star Sandra Oh, paid tribute to his late mother, who passed away prior to the 2004 comedy, and older sister, who died before the opening of Alexander Payne’s latest critically acclaimed film. “I never thought of myself as an icon,” said Giamatti, who ran down some of his best roles and paid tribute to the directors he has worked with. “I’ve played some weird, difficult guys,” he said, “and sometimes it’s hard to get inside their heads.”

Giamatti also remembered his first acting teacher, actor Alan Rickman, saying “No one had ever encouraged me before that.”

His co-star Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who he presented the Breakout Award to, also fought tears when referring to the veteran actor as her “north star.”

“Jobs like these do not come often,” said Randolph.

The awards included Eilish and O’Connell (Chairman’s Award) presented by Gerwig; Carey Mulligan (International Star Award, Actress) presented by Meryl Streep; Cillian Murphy (Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor) presented by Robert Downey Jr.; Colman Domingo (Spotlight Award, Actor) presented by Lenny Kravitz; Danielle Brooks (Spotlight Award, Actress) presented by Taraji P. Henson and Blitz Bazawule; Randolph (Breakthrough Performance Award) presented by Giamatti; Emma Stone (Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress) presented by Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe; Gerwig (Director of the Year) presented by Robbie and Ferrera; Jeffrey Wright (Career Achievement Award) presented by Leslie Uggams; Giamatti (Icon Award) presented by Oh; “Killers of the Flower Moon” – director, Martin Scorsese, executive producer and actor, Leonardo DiCaprio and actor, Lily Gladstone (Vanguard Award). They were introduced by Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear.

The festival runs from Jan. 4-15.


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