It's All Fun and Games at the Hollywood Film Awards

Emmanuel Lubezki and Ben Affleck

As red-carpet season takes shape, the annual gala gives contenders a chance to practice their struts and try on their acceptance speeches.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Consider it a black-tie- run-through for the movie awards season that soon will be in full, relentless swing: On Oct. 22, a sampling of stars, directors and craftspeople who hope to vie for Golden Globes, Oscars and other assorted glittering prizes will descend on the Beverly Hilton for the Hollywood Film Awards.

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"This year, there are quite a significant number of films that will certainly be part of the Oscar race -- more so than in prior years," says Carlos de Abreu, the man behind the Hollywood Awards. "There was just a lot of great stuff to choose from."

Not every potential Academy Award contender will be represented. Among this year's Hollywood Award honorees, there is no mention of Steven Spielberg's Lincoln or Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

But there are plenty of other titles atop awards handicappers' lists that have been selected by de Abreu after consulting, he says, with a cross-section of well-placed insiders. Bradley Cooper will claim the Hollywood Actor Award for his performance as a man who has survived an asylum in Silver Linings Playbook, and Marion Cotillard will take the corresponding actress prize for her turn as an amputee in Rust and Bone. David O. Russell will take home directing honors for Playbook, and fellow helmer Quentin Tarantino will be recognized with a screenwriting award for Django Unchained. Spreading the wealth, Dustin Hoffman will receive the Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award for his feature directorial debut, Quartet.

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If the word "Hollywood" pops up a lot in those kudos, it's because they are the invention of de Abreu, an author, entrepreneur and former Cartier marketing executive who early on recognized the value in collecting thousands of URLs and dozens of registered trademarks built around the iconic moniker.

In 1997, he created the Hollywood Film Festival, which will take place Oct. 19 to 22 at ArcLight Cinemas on Sunset Boulevard. But his awards gala, which he says is designed to introduce up-and-coming filmmakers to industry royalty, now overshadows the festival itself. And its strategic scheduling on the verge of awards season proper means everyone happily joins in.

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"I'm shocked and astonished that I'm being given an award before my film has even come out," exclaimed Robert Pattinson in 2008, when he received the New Hollywood Award on the eve of the first Twilight movie's release.

For if there is anything the event proves, it's that no one in Hollywood can resist an award.

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