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Palm Springs Shines on Natalie Portman and Colin Firth

Natalie Portman
Matt Carr/Getty Images

Natalie Portman (pictured) and Colin Firth will be awarded the Desert Palm Achievement Award for actress and actor at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, whose Jan. 8 kickoff is hosted by Mary Hart, still pert after all these years. They join already announced PSIFF honorees Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem and Carey Mulligan (who, respectively, got six, four and zero votes on this week's GoldDerby pundit poll).

Firth's frontrunner status is getting so monotonous, it could actually become a liability. Portman feels like the news here. The King's Speech is all no-sex-please-we're-British; Portman's Black Swan persona is a sinfully rich cupcake of concupiscence, a crazed solar flare disrupting normal transmissions (like the conventional wisdom leaning toward an Annette Bening win). Citing Tom O'Neal, Sasha Stone says, "When confronted with older versus younger, Oscar almost always chooses younger." For the male heteros of a certain age in the Academy, "the 'f*ckable' aspect is almost always the immovable object in the best actress race." 

Stone notes that Bening got beaten by Hilary Swank, and Ellen Burstyn by Julia Roberts, Sissy Spacek by Halle Berry, Diane Keaton by Charlize Theron, and Julie Christie by Marion Cotillard. Helen Mirren doesn't count because age doth not wither Helen Mirren. Stone notes that to nab the doll, Portman must overcome her shyness and act more like her Black Swan wild child on the red carpet. When I once ran into Portman in a fluffy robe at Santa Fe’s 10,000 Waves spa, she seemed meek as a monk. She just needs to treat news cameras more like movie cameras and erupt a bit.

Even though the young woman I rode the Telluride gondola with steamed up the windows after the 127 Hours premiere, squealing, "James Franco! What a sexy bomb!" I am guessing she was not an Academy member. So Firth may be safer than Bening from the Oscar Effable Effect.