Santa Barbara Film Fest: 'Judy' Star Renee Zellweger Tapped for American Riviera Award

Four previous recipients — Sam Rockwell, Sandra Bullock, Forest Whitaker and Philip Seymour Hoffman — went on to win Oscars in the same year.
Karwai Tang/WireImage

"America's sweetheart"-turned-Oscar winner Renee Zellweger will be honored with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's American Riviera Award, the festival announced Tuesday.

The ceremony will take place at Santa Barbara's historic Arlington Theatre, on a date still to be determined during SBIFF's 35th edition, which will run Jan. 15-25, 2020.

Zellweger, 50, has long been regarded as one of the outstanding actresses of her generation, going back to Cameron Crowe's 1996 romantic dramedy Jerry Maguire, which, at 26, made her an overnight star, and extending right through 1998's One True Thing, 2000's Nurse Betty, 2002's Chicago, 2003's Cold Mountain, 2006's Miss Potter and, of course, the Bridget Jones trilogy — 2001's Bridget Jones's Diary, 2004's Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and 2016's Bridget Jones's Baby. But, from 2010 through 2016, save for one public appearance that led to mean-spirited media coverage about her appearance (which she described as humiliating), she inexplicably disappeared completely from the public eye, and some began to write her off. However, she recently returned in a major way, garnering some of the best reviews of her career for her portrayal of Judy Garland in Rupert Goold's Judy, a Roadside Attractions and LD Entertainment release.

"Ms. Zellweger has always displayed a deep commitment and discipline in her performances which has always made me root for her and admire her deeply," festival director Roger Durling said in a statement. "In Judy, she adds a ferocity that solidifies her as one of the greatest actors of her time."

Previous recipients of SBIFF's American Riviera Award include Green Book's Viggo Mortensen (2019) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri's Sam Rockwell (2018); Hell or High Water's Jeff Bridges (2017); Spotlight's Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo (2016); Boyhood's Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke (2015); All Is Lost's Robert Redford (2014); Django Unchained's Quentin Tarantino (2013); Hugo's Martin Scorsese (2012); The Kids Are All Right's Annette Bening (2011); The Blind Side's Sandra Bullock (2010); The Wrestler's Mickey Rourke (2009); In the Valley of Elah's Tommy Lee Jones (2008); The Last King of Scotland's Forest Whitaker (2007); Capote's Philip Seymour Hoffman (2006); The Woodsman's Kevin Bacon (2005); and Under the Tuscan Sun's Diane Lane (2004).

Mortensen, Rockwell, Bridges, McAdams, Ruffalo, Arquette, Hawke, Tarantino, Scorsese, Bening, Bullock, Rourke, Jones, Whitaker and Hoffman all went on to receive Oscar nominations; Rockwell, Bullock, Whitaker and Hoffman took home the gold.

Other fest honors will be announced in the coming days.