ShoWest doles out accolades

Michael Caine, Michael Bay, Zac Efron among honorees

LAS VEGAS -- ShoWest 2009 movie-theater operators capped their week the way they started it -- celebrating.

Decidedly upbeat throughout the four-day exhibition confab over the current boxoffice boom, partying exhibitors packed a film-talent awards gala that closed the show Thursday night. "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush set a star-struck tone for the proceedings with a stream of admiring one-liners.

"What is up with all the talented hot young people?" Bush gushed after the female cast of Summit Entertainment's upcoming "Sorority Row" accepted a rising-talent award.

Among the evening's highlights, British acting icon Michael Caine was feted with a lifetime achievement award, and action helmer Michael Bay copped a Vanguard Award for excellence in filmmaking.

There were also several awards for recent accomplishments. Among those:

-- Dennis Quaid -- who voiced the lead part in Lionsgate's 3-D animated "Battle for Terra," screened at ShoWest on Wednesday -- was honored as male star of the year.

-- Rachel McAdams, of Universal and Working Title's upcoming "State of Play," was lauded as the year's outstanding female star.

-- "Watchmen" helmer Zack Snyder received accolades as director of the year.

"For me, theaters are like a church or a shrine," Snyder told the assembled exhibitors. "And that's where movies need to be seen."

It's perhaps unsurprising that the remark attracted considerable applause from the ballroom crowd.

Zac Efron, the young star of Disney's upcoming "17 Again," drew outright shrieks from some of the young ladies in the audience when he accepted a breakthrough performance award.

Chris Pine, who plays Captain Kirk in Paramount's summer tentpole "Star Trek," prompted Bush to remark, "The dude looks dope tonight in his suit." A "Trek" trailer seemed to go over well.

Independent film kudos were dished out at a luncheon Thursday, with Roger Ebert accepting lifetime laurels for film journalism.

"In times like these, we all need to see a good movie," Ebert said. His wife, Chaz, accompanied Ebert to the stage and delivered his prepared remarks.

The awards activities -- and other events, including a well-received screening of Woody Allens's "Whatever Works," from Sony Pictures Classics -- capped a four-day run of the annual confab. As in previous recent years, ShoWest was held at the Bally's and Paris hotels in Las Vegas.

Patricia Clarkson, who co-stars with Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood in "Whatever," was an indie film honoree for acting excellence.

"Like Woody, this film is warm and witty and profoundly funny," Clarkson said.

"Whatever" unspools in limited release June 19.