Perhaps it was just because they come at the end of a long week and the exhibitors who come from around the country to Las Vegas for NATO’s CinemaCon convention are either tired or jaded at this point, but tonight’s closing Big Screen Achievement Awards were a pretty dry affair. Even mechanical by-the-numbers host Billy Bush (Access Hollywood) couldn’t pump much energy into the massive Colosseum theatre of Caesars Palace where these delegates have spent much of their time since Monday viewing studio presentations and seeing many of the same stars who were once again trotted out to get awards arranged by the studios and CinemaCon organizers. Of course these awards are geared to the industry’s big season and every single recipient has at least one — or more than one film coming out over the summer. So it may have been petty theft but producer/director Judd Apatow receiving the Award of Excellence in Filmmaking tried to get the crowd going and won big laughs in return for stealing the show. “You are a tough crowd,” he scolded the audience. “You always stop applauding just as the star reaches the top of the stairs. So let’s give me some more fucking applause please. This has been an exciting night but you don’t seem as excited as I am. C’mon people. Stallone was here for god’s sake!” Apatow proceeded to thank NATO for his award by imitating some of the more hopelessly sincere winners that preceded him and asking “what does it mean? You guys must have really loved Wanderlust“.
Also getting high marks for her charming speech was Distinguished Decade of Achievement In Film winner Charlize Theron who with both Prometheus and Snow White And The Huntsman has two new action flicks opening within a week of each other in early June. “If I knew that 3D was gonna be such a big deal I would have gotten that boob job ten years ago,” she said to much laughter while complimenting the theatre owners for keeping up the shared movie experience and telling them that in fact she learned everything she knows about love from seeing a movie, Splash, in one of their theatres. “Perhaps that is why I am still single.”
Comedy Star of the Year winner Anna Faris who is in The Dictator with Sacha Baron Cohen said she was glad to receive the award so it can replace another she won years ago. “My parents hope I will now take my stony award from High Times Magazine, which is actually a working bong, down from the mantle,” she said adding that even though she knew it was happening, winning this from NATO still felt like a surprise.
Michelle Pfeiffer, who has both Dark Shadows and People Like Us for summer added a big touch of class to the show in receiving the first-ever Cinema Icon award. She said she never thought of herself as an icon but was “incredibly grateful for the support you have shown me for the past 30 years”. She also revealed her age, 53, and said the first film experience she could remember seeing was The Sterile Cuckoo in 1969 when her 6th grade class took a field trip to the local theatre.
Among other winners were Career Achievement Award to Sylvester Stallone, Male Star of Tomorrow to Taylor Kitsch despite the John Carter debacle. He’s also in two Universal films this summer — Battleship and Savages. Female Star of Tomorrow went to Chloe Grace Moretz, Rising Star to Rock Of Ages star Diego Boneta who thanked “Mexico” among others, Breakthrough Performer to Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson, Female Star of the Year to Jennifer Garner and Male Star of the Year to Jeremy Renner who ended the show with a strange speech in which he said he was suffering from jetlag, took a short nap a couple of hours earlier and woke up thinking he was in Paris. Not quite, Jeremy, you’re in Caesars Palace. The Paris Hotel is across the street.
In a departure from the type of special effects-driven popcorn fare that normally wins, the Fandango Fan Choice Award for Favorite Movie of 2011 went to the period Civil Rights drama The Help. It was accepted by Disney’s Distribution Exec VP Dave Hollis.
Awards Columnist Pete Hammond - tip him here.