Saoirse Ronan, Jessica Chastain and Mary J Blige
Saoirse Ronan, Jessica Chastain and Mary J Blige

The 29th Palm Springs International Film Festival will present Saoirse Ronan, Jessica Chastain, and Mary J. Blige with awards at its annual Film Awards Gala.  They join previously announced 2018 honorees Timothée Chalamet, Gal Gadot, Holly Hunter, Allison Janney, Gary Oldman, Sam Rockwell and The Shape of Water. The Film Awards Gala, hosted by Mary Hart, will be held Tuesday, January 2nd at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Festival runs January 2 to 15, 2018.

Saoirse Ronan will receive the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress for her performance in Lady Bird. “Saoirse Ronan delivers one of the most outstanding performances of this year as an outspoken high school student growing up in Sacramento in the critically acclaimed film Lady Bird,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “Following her exceptional performances in Atonement and Brooklyn, Ronan is sure to receive her third Academy Award nomination. It is our honor to present the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress to Saoirse Ronan.”

Ronan received the PSIFF International Star Award in 2016 for her performance in Brooklyn, going on to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for the same role. Additional past recipients of the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress include Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Charlize Theron, and Naomi Watts.

In Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig proves herself a bold new cinematic voice with her directorial debut, excavating the humor and pathos in the turbulent bond between a mother and her teenage daughter. Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) fights against but is exactly like her wildly loving, deeply opinionated, strong-willed mom (Laurie Metcalf), a nurse working to keep her family afloat after Lady Bird’s father (Tracy Letts) loses his job. Set in Sacramento, California in 2002, amid a rapidly shifting American economic landscape, Lady Bird is an affecting look at the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us, and the unmatched beauty of a place called home.

For her role in the film, Ronan has already received Best Actress from the Gotham Independent Film Awards and is nominated for Best Female Lead from the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Jessica Chastain will receive  the Chairman’s Award for Molly’s Game. “Jessica Chastain is an incredible actress who has continuously challenged herself with complex roles throughout her career,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “In her latest film, Molly’s Game, Chastain brings to life Molly Bloom’s story of a determined woman who goes from being an Olympic skier to making millions running an exclusive high-stakes poker game. It is our honor to present the Chairman’s Award to Jessica Chastain.”

Chastain received the PSIFF Spotlight Award in 2012, going on to receive an Academy Award® nomination for The Help. Past recipients of the Chairman’s Award include Amy Adams, Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Richard Gere, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game is based on the true story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), an Olympic-class skier who ran one of the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans, and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), who learned that there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led us to believe. The film also stars Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Bill Camp, Chris O’Dowd and Brian d’Arcy James. Mark Gordon, Amy Pascal and Matt Jackson produced. STXfilms and the Mark Gordon Company’s Molly’s Game will open in select theaters nationwide December 25, 2017, and everywhere January 5, 2018.

The Festival will present Mary J. Blige with the Breakthrough Performance Award for her performance in Mudbound.

“Mary J. Blige is a global superstar in the world of music who continues to make her mark as an actress in both television and film,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “In her current film Mudbound, Blige gives a quiet yet fantastic performance as Florence Jackson, a strong woman supporting her sharecropper family in rural Mississippi. It is our honor to present the 2018 Breakthrough Performance Award to Mary J. Blige.”

Past recipients of the Breakthrough Performance Award include Mahershala Ali, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Hudson, Felicity Huffman, Brie Larson, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike and Jeremy Renner. In the years they were honored, Ali, Cotillard, Hudson, Larson and Nyong’o went on to receive Academy Awards®, while Huffman, Pike and Renner received nominations.

Set in the rural American South during World War II, Dee Rees’ Mudbound is an epic story of two families pitted against one another by a ruthless social hierarchy, yet bound together by the shared farmland of the Mississippi Delta. Mudbound follows the McAllan family, newly transplanted from the quiet civility of Memphis and unprepared for the harsh demands of farming. Despite the grandiose dreams of Henry (Jason Clarke), his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan) struggles to keep the faith in her husband’s losing venture. Meanwhile, Hap and Florence Jackson (Rob Morgan and Mary J. Blige), sharecroppers who have worked the land for generations, struggle bravely to build a small dream of their own despite the rigidly enforced social barriers they face. The war upends both families’ plans as their returning loved ones, Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund) and Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell), forge a fast but uneasy friendship that challenges the brutal realities of the Jim Crow South in which they live.

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