News Column

Emma Thompson to receive Santa Barbara film fest's highest honor

November 24, 2013


Nov. 24--She's been Nanny McPhee, will soon play the woman who wrote the beloved Mary Poppins books and has walked offstage with two Oscars to boot.

And now longtime stalwart English actress Emma Thompson is coming to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Thompson will receive the festival's highest honor, the Modern Master Award, on Feb. 8 at the Arlington Theatre, organizers announced recently.

Thompson plays Poppins author P.L. Travers in the upcoming film "Saving Mr. Banks." The film, due out Dec. 20 and co-starring Tom Hanks and Colin Farrell, is drawing considerable Oscar buzz.

Roger Durling, the festival's executive director, pointed out that Thompson is the only person who has won Oscars for both best actress ("Howards End") and best screenplay (her adaptation of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility," for which she was also nominated for best lead actress).

The other two of her handful of Oscar nominations were for "The Remains of the Day" (lead actress) and "In the Name of the Father" (supporting actress).

Durling said Thompson exemplifies the spirit of the Modern Master Award, whose past recipients have included George Clooney, Will Smith, Clint Eastwood, Diane Keaton, Jodie Foster, Jeff Bridges, Sean Penn and James Cameron, among others.

Thompson also wrote the screenplays for and starred in the popular "Nanny McPhee" films. Her other credits include "Love Actually," the "Harry Potter" films, "Much Ado About Nothing," "Carrington" and, more recently, "Brave" and "Men in Black 3."

She is the third announced star who will receive tributes during the festival's upcoming 29th edition from Jan. 30 to Feb. 9, joining Cate Blanchett and Oprah Winfrey.

Tickets for the Thompson tribute are on sale now for $35 (as are the Blanchett and Winfrey events) and can be purchased at or by calling the festival's office at 963-0023.


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