Robert Redford to receive American Riviera Award at Santa Barbara fest

It’s been an up-and-down awards season so far for Robert Redford, angling for his first-ever acting Oscar in “All is Lost.” Things started well with that New York Film Critics’ Circle win, and he’s been a steady presence in nominee fields since then — but his omission from the SAG nods was an unexpected roadblock, one that suggests awards voters (much like the American public) may simply not be seeing J.C. Chandor’s minimalist survival story. (The London critics passed him over this morning too, though the film hasn’t been widely screened here.)

One suspects Redford isn’t all that bothered either way. He hasn’t been actively campaigning, and at this stage in his career, perhaps an Oscar nomination doesn’t seem entirely worth the effort. (It’s not as if the former Best Director winner has never tasted gold in his life.) Still, should he secure the nomination, his profile is set to rise considerably in the next phase of voting: not only will he be in evidence (as always) at his beloved Sundance Film Festival, but he will receive a tribute at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival — always a valued publicity stop for stars on the campaign trail.

The SBIFF announced today that Redford will be honored on February 7 with the American Riviera Award, presented annually to an individual “who has had a strong influence on American cinema.” Past recipients include (in reverse chronological order) Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Annette Bening, Sandra Bullock, Mickey Rourke, Tommy Lee Jones, Forrest Whitaker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Bacon and Diane Lane. All but the last two were in the Oscar race at the time.

The “strong influence” criteria seems more apt in Redford’s case than most. He is, of course, one of Hollywood’s signature movie stars of the last half-century, not to mention an accomplished filmmaker. But it’s no exaggeration to say that his work in establishing and shepherding Sundance helped change the face of American independent cinema; few US stars occupy quite such senior status in such opposing spheres.

SBIFF director Roger Durling states: “To honor Robert Redford with the American Riviera Award is an immense privilege for SBIFF. His fifty-year career – filled with significant achievements both on and off camera – is reason enough for celebration, but his role in ‘All is Lost’ – one of the best performances of the year – proves that he’s an artist that continues to evolve and inspire us.”

Other stars being honored in Santa Barbara include Cate Blanchett, Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Emma Thompson, Daniel Bruhl, Adele Exarchopoulos, June Squibb, Oscar Isaac, Michael B. Jordan, Jared Leto and Brie Larson.