Aaron Taylor Johnson (Nocturnal Animals), Dev Patel (Lion), Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures, Moonlight), Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Ruth Negga (Loving), Simon Helberg (Florence Foster Jenkins), and Stephen Henderson (Fences) will be the recipients of the 2017 Virtuosos Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). The award was created to recognize a select group of talent who have distinguished themselves through breakthrough performances in film the past year, and will be presented at the 32nd edition of the festival, which runs February 1 to February 11, 2017.
SBIFF Executive Director Roger During noted, “This year has been monumental in the breadth of talent breaking through in distinct and emotional roles. We are excited to honor both new and familiar faces, and look forward to celebrating them and their contribution to the craft.”
The diverse group will be recognized for their breakthrough roles in 2016 and careers thus far. Aaron Taylor Johnson delivers a fearless and menacing performance as the villainous sociopath Ray Marcus in the psychological thriller Nocturnal Animals. Based on the true story of Saroo Brierley, Dev Patel brings an emotional sentimentality and soulful depth to his role in Lion. Janelle Monáe has had a banner year with star-making performances as Mary Jackson in the biographical drama Hidden Figures along with the brilliantly crafted Moonlight, in which she brings sensitivity and sincerity to the role of Teresa. In Moonlight, Mahershala Ali gives a captivating and moving turn as Juan, a man struggling to find his place in the world, and Naomie Harris mesmerizes with her touching and harrowing performance as the mother of a young man navigating his sexuality. Ruth Negga delivers a mesmerizing and resilient portrayal of Mildred Loving in the biographical drama, Loving. Simon Helberg won critical raves and audiences’ hearts with his charming performance opposite Meryl Streep as Cosme McMoon – the very expressive pianist in Florence Foster Jenkins. After decades on Broadway, renowned character actor Stephen Henderson reprises the role of Jim Bono in Denzel Washington’s upcoming Fences, which earned the actor a Tony nomination.
Prior recipients for the award include Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Dano, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Géza Röhrig, Jacob Tremblay, Chadwick Boseman, Ellar Coltrane, Logan Lerman, David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, J.K. Simmons, Jenny Slate, Ann Dowd, Elle Fanning, Ezra Miller, Eddie Redmayne, Omar Sy, Quvenzhane Wallis, Demian Bichir, Rooney Mara, Melissa McCarthy, Shailene Woodley, Andy Serkis, Patton Oswalt, Andrew Garfield, John Hawkes, Lesley Manville, Hailee Steinfeld, Jacki Weaver, Emily Blunt, Carey Mulligan, Saoirse Ronan, Gabourey Sidibe, Michael Stuhlbarg, Casey Affleck, Marion Cotillard, Viola Davis, Rosemarie DeWitt, Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Melissa Leo, James McAvoy, Ellen Page, Amy Ryan, Michael Shannon, Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, Jared Leto, and June Squibb.