On the Red Carpet, we first meet our Virtuosos. Through clicking, flashing, compliments and exclamations, the sauntering specimens are observed, stopping to speak a moment, or not, rushed away by handlers. Some seem altogether human, one of us, stricken by fate and smiling gods placed in blinding light to be observed. Others carry a distinct glint and charm, which seems to make them inherently captivating. Still others seem miles away from the opposite side of the press fence.
Regardless of any preconceived notions or half-conceived judgements, these people are not being lime-lit because of Hilton, Kardashian or Ritchie fame, but for the enormous accomplishment of their true embodiment of a character-for transcendence of identity.
The night was hosted and conducted by David Karger of Fandango.com, who bore "a bit of bad news," to an anxious audience. Three of the events' seven honorees would not be in attendance- Adele Excharchopoulos of Blue Is The Warmest Color, Daniel Bruhl of Rush and Oscar Isaac of Inside Llewyn Davis. As a side note, Winston, the Arlington's resident K-9, made an unexpected, though welcome appearance during David Karger's introduction.
After a tear wringingly touching scene from Fruitvale Station featuring Octavia Spencer, Michael B. Jordan was first to be interviewed. Completely approachable and free of illusory pretense, Jordan reflected on the closeness of his life to Oscar Grant's (Fruitvale Station's subject, the 22 year old man who was shot and killed by B.A.R.T police in Oakland in 2009). "In my life, one wrong decision here, a left turn when I went right. I could have been in the same situation."
Following was a clip from Short Term 12 featuring Brie Larson as Grace, screaming injustice to save a child from abuse. Larson gave an entertaining interview in her cutesy and quirky way, guided by Karger's relaxed yet focused questioning.
Then, a bit of Jared Leto's transformative, transcendent Oscar-nominated performance as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club. Through applause, cheers and screams of "I love you, Jared!" came a projectile voice from the audience, "You don't deserve an award for playing a trans-woman because you're a man!" Lightly ruffled, Leto retorted "Then you've made sure people that are gay, like the Rayons of the world, would never have the opportunity to turn the tables and explore parts of that art." The actor invited the two young women backstage, where they later engaged a fifteen (or so) minute discussion about the matter. The interview resumed after Karger thanked the outspoken audience members for their input and continued with questioning. Leto gave insight into his method acting and spoke of Rayon as if she was a sister or best friend, one to be honored and fondly missed, not living or dead, simply out of reach.
Last was June Squibb and a clip of her priceless Academy Award nominated performance in Nebraska featuring Squibb's character Kate, pulling up her skirt and flashing the grave of an old boyfriend. She was no less wonderful, charming and comical as herself, June Squibb. The 84 year old actress said, "I couldn't wait... to do that cemetery scene. I mean, that is just delicious." It seemed that in every silence after her response, the audience would erupt with laughter.
Following June Squibb's interview, the audience was shown excerpts of all of the non-present honorees' films, a major standout being Daniel Bruhl in Rush. The Virtuosos were then called onstage for a group Q&A, presumably to fill the space left by those who didn't show. Though sweet and convivial, the group interview did feel like an exercise in time-killing.
To close the night, Christopher Lloyd bestowed the awards. Both Jordan and Larson likened the experience to graduating. In respect to the recently late and ever great actor, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Leto donated his virtuoso award.
It was an entertaining night, made more so by the small infiltrations of the outside world, into a seamless glamorous presentation. SBIFF's 2014 Virtuoso Awards reminded the audience of what films are made of.