Palm Springs Film Fest: J.K. Simmons Nabs Spotlight Award for 'Whiplash'

Whiplash J.K. Simmons - H 2014
Courtesy of New York Film Festival

Whiplash J.K. Simmons - H 2014

In recognition of his acclaimed performance as a sadistic music instructor in this year's indie hit Whiplash, J.K. Simmons, the veteran character actor, will receive this year's Spotlight Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival's 26th annual PSIFF Awards Gala on Jan. 3. The fest will run Jan. 2-12.

All four previous recipients of PSIFF's Spotlight Award — Julia Roberts (2014, for August: Osage County), Helen Hunt (2013, for The Sessions), Jessica Chastain (2012, for The Help, The Tree of Life, Take Shelter, The Debt and Coriolanus) and Amy Adams (2009, for Doubt) — went on to receive Oscar nominations that same year.

"Throughout his career J.K. Simmons has played a wide range of roles, from tough guys in Oz and Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films to nicer guys in Juno and Up in the Air," said Harold Matzner, PSIFF chairman. "In Whiplash, Simmons shines with his tough-guy portrayal of a music teacher who physically and emotionally terrorizes a young drummer, and gives a captivating performance that is alternately hilarious and terrifying."

PSIFF previously announced that The Theory of Everything's lead actor Eddie Redmayne and Still Alice's lead actress Julianne Moore will receive this year's Desert Palm Achievement awards.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg