Just Saw "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and Here's What I Think! 
Our reviews are embargoed until tomorrow, Wednesday, so meanwhile, here's what I think of the J.J.Abrams-directed film! I saw the movie early in the morning at the Walt Disney Studios Lot in Burbank. So here's my non-verbal reaction to "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."



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Matt Damon to Receive Chairman's Award at 27th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala 


Matt Damon, who was so good in carrying "The Martian," is being honored at the upcoming Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF). He will join previously announced honorees Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, Michael Fassbender, Brie Larson, Rooney Mara, Tom McCarthy, Saoirse Ronan and Alicia Vikander. Here's the full press release from PSIFF:

Palm Springs, CA (December 15, 2015) – The 27th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Matt Damon with the Chairman’s Award at its annual Awards Gala. This year’s Awards Gala will be hosted by Mary Hart on Saturday, January 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Festival runs January 1-11.

“Since his breakthrough role in Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon has taken on a series of challenging roles through his career,” said Film Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “In his latest film, The Martian, Damon dazzles yet again as Mark Watney, an astronaut desperately trying to survive on Mars, yet still finding a way to laugh and bring hope to an impossible situation. It is an honor to present Matt Damon with the 2016 Chairman’s Award.”

The Martian director, Ridley Scott, will present Matt Damon with his award.

Past recipients of the Chairman’s Award include Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Richard Gere, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

In The Martian, a manned mission to Mars is aborted and astronaut Mark Watney (Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm. Left behind by his crew, however, Watney has improbably survived and must draw upon his ingenuity and spirit to subsist and find a way to send a signal back to Earth. Once aware that he is alive, NASA works to overcome the challenges of both physics and public relations, enlisting his crewmates in a daring if not impossible rescue mission. Directed by Ridley Scott from the best-selling novel by Andy Weir, The Martian features a star-studded cast including Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Matt Damon has been honored for his work on both sides of the camera. For his role in The Martian, he recently received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor - Musical or Comedy and a Best Actor honor from the National Board of Review. Previously he received an Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award and SAG® and BAFTA® nominations for his performance in Stephen Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra. Damon also earned numerous nominations, including for an Academy Award® and Golden Globe, for his portrayal of South African rugby hero Francois Pienaar in Invictus, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for his starring role in Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant! Damon won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay and received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his breakthrough feature Good Will Hunting.

His other film credits include Monuments Men, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy films, Elysium, Promised Land, We Bought a Zoo, True Grit, The Adjustment Bureau, Happy Feet 2, Contagion, Hereafter, Green Zone, The Departed, The Good Shepherd, Syriana, Mystic Pizza, School Ties, Geronimo: An American Legend, The Good Old Boys, Courage Under Fire, The Rainmaker, Saving Private Ryan, Rounders, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Dogma, The Legend of Bagger Vance, All the Pretty Horses and The Brothers Grimm.

The Gala will also present awards to previously announced honorees Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, Michael Fassbender, Brie Larson, Rooney Mara, Tom McCarthy, Saoirse Ronan and Alicia Vikander.

About The Palm Springs International Film Festival
The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) is one of the largest film festivals in North America, welcoming 135,000 attendees last year for its lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries. The Festival is also known for its annual Black Tie Awards Gala, honoring the best achievements of the filmic year by a celebrated list of talents who, in recent years, have included Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Julianne Moore, Brad Pitt, Eddie Redmayne, Julia Roberts, David O. Russell, Meryl Streep, and Reese Witherspoon.


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Phoenix Critics Circle Nominees 


And here are the nominees for the 2015 Phoenix Critics Circle:

2015 NOMINEES

BEST PICTURE

Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Room
Spotlight

BEST COMEDY FILM
The Big Short
Dope
Joy
Spy
Trainwreck

BEST SCIENCE FICTION FILM
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian

BEST MYSTERY OR THRILLER FILM

Bridge of Spies
Sicario
Spotlight

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Anomalisa
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
The Assassin
White God
Youth

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Amy
Best of Enemies
Cartel Land
He Named My Malala
Listen to Me Marlon

BEST HORROR FILM
Bone Tomahawk
Crimson Peak
It Follows
Unfriended

BEST MUSICAL
Amy
Pitch Perfect 2
Straight Outta Compton

BEST ACTOR
Michael Caine, Youth
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Marion Cotillard, Macbeth
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Brie Larson, Room
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk
Michael Keaton, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Jacob Tremblay, Room

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

BEST DIRECTOR
Alex Garland, Ex Machina
Alejandro Inarritu, The Revenant
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott, The Martian
Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight

BEST SCREENPLAY
Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Bridge of Spies
Alex Garland, Ex Machina
Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer, Spotlight
Charles Randolph, Adam McKay, The Big Short
Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs

BEST SCORE

Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL, Mad Max: Fury Road
Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sicario
Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
Thomas Newman, Bridge of Spies

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"Carol" Named Best Film by Toronto Film Critics Association 


Bucking the trend, the Toronto Film Critics Association chose Todd Haynes' "Carol" in their yearly kudos although both "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Spotlight" were runners-up. Here's the full list of winners of Toronto Film Critics Association Awards winners and runners-up:

BEST PICTURE

“Carol” (Entertainment One)

Runners-up

“Mad Max: Fury Road” (Warner Bros.)

“Spotlight” (Entertainment One)

BEST ACTOR

Tom Hardy, “Legend”

Runners-up

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”

BEST ACTRESS

Nina Hoss, “Phoenix”

Runners-up

Cate Blanchett, “Carol”

Brie Larson, “Room”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”

Runners-up

Benicio Del Toro, “Sicario”

Michael Shannon, “99 Homes”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS


Alicia Vikander, “Ex Machina”

Runners-up

Rooney Mara, “Carol”

Kristen Stewart, “Clouds of Sils Maria”

BEST DIRECTOR

Todd Haynes, “Carol”

Runners-up

Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”

George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Denis Villeneuve, “Sicario”

BEST SCREENPLAY, ADAPTED OR ORIGINAL

“The Big Short”, Charles Randolph and Adam McKay; based upon the book by Michael Lewis

Runners-up

“Anomalisa,” Charlie Kaufman; based on his stage play

“Carol,” by Phyllis Nagy; based on the novel “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith

“Spotlight,” by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy

BEST FIRST FEATURE


“Ex Machina,” directed by Alex Garland

Runners-up

“Sleeping Giant,” directed by Andrew Cividino

“Son of Saul,” directed by Lázsló Nemes

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

“Shaun the Sheep Movie” (Elevation Pictures)

Runners-up

“Anomalisa” (Paramount Pictures)

“Inside Out” (Disney*Pixar)

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM

“Phoenix” (Films We Like)

Runners-up

“The Assassin” (Amplify Releasing)

“Son of Saul” (Mongrel Media)

ALLAN KING DOCUMENTARY AWARD


“The Look of Silence” (Blue Ice Docs)

Runners-up

“Amy” (Mongrel Media)

“Listen To Me Marlon” ( distributor unknown )

ROGERS BEST CANADIAN FILM AWARD FINALISTS

“The Forbidden Room,” directed by Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson

“My Internship in Canada,” directed by Philippe Falardeau

“Sleeping Giant,” directed by Andrew Cividino

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Two More Critics Groups Choose "Spotlight" 


Both Detroit Film Critics Society and Indiana Film Journalists Association picked Tom McCarthy's "Spotlight" as the year's best! Here's the complete list of winners of Detroit Film Critics Society:

Best Picture: "Spotlight"

Best Director:
George Miller, "Mad Max: Fury Road"

Best Actor: Michael Caine, "Youth"

Best Actress: Saoirse Ronan, "Brooklyn"

Best Supporting Actor: Liev Schreiber, "Spotlight"

Best Supporting Actress:
Alicia Vikander, "The Danish Girl"

Best Ensemble: "Spotlight"

Best Breakthrough:
Alicia Vikander, actress, "The Danish Girl," "Ex Machina"

Best Screenplay: Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy, "Spotlight"

Best Documentary: "Amy"

And here's the full list of the Indiana Film Journalists Association:

Best Film

Winner: "Spotlight"

Runner-up: "Room"

Other Finalists (listed alphabetically):
"Anomalisa"
"The Big Short"
"Carol"
"The End of the Tour"
"Mad Max: Fury Road"
"The Martian"
"Steve Jobs"
"Straight Outta Compton"

Best Animated Feature
Winner: "Anomalisa"

Runner-Up: "Inside Out "

Best Foreign Language Film
Winner: "Son of Saul"

Runner-Up: "Goodnight Mommy"

Best Documentary
Winner: "Amy"

Runner-Up: "Meru"

Best Original Screenplay
Winner: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, "Spotlight"

Runner-up: Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen, "Bridge of Spies"

Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner: Emma Donoghue, "Room"

Runner-up: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, "The Big Short"

Best Director
Winner: George Miller, "Mad Max: Fury Road"

Runner-up: Tom McCarthy, "Spotlight"

Best Actress
Winner: Brie Larson, "Room"

Runner-up: Charlotte Rampling, "45 Years"

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Greta Gerwig, "Mistress America"

Runner-up: Elizabeth Banks, "Love & Mercy"

Best Actor
Winner: Jacob Tremblay, "Room"

Runner-up: Jason Segel, "The End of the Tour"

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Mark Ruffalo, "Spotlight"

Runner-up: Idris Elba, "Beasts of No Nation"

Best Vocal/Motion Capture Performance
Winner: Phyllis Smith, "Inside Out"

Runner-up: Tom Noonan, "Anomalisa"

Best Musical Score

Winner: Junkie XL, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Runner-up: Disasterpeace, "It Follows"

Original Vision Award
Winner: "Anomalisa"
Runner-up: "Chi-Raq"

The Hoosier Award
Winner: Angelo Pizzo, writer/director/producer
(As a special award, no runner-up is declared in this category.)

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