Santa Barbara Film Fest: 'Birdman' Star Michael Keaton Tapped as Modern Master

The 63-year-old, who has a ranch in Santa Barbara, is angling for his first-ever Oscar nomination for his portrayal of an actor having a mid-life crisis in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's acclaimed dramedy
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Michael Keaton, the star of last weekend's art house hit Birdman, will receive the Modern Master Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the fest announced on Tuesday. The 63-year-old, who in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's film plays a character who was once a movie star but now hopes to be seen as a serious actor, will be honored Jan. 31 at Santa Barbara's historic Arlington Theatre as part of the festival's 30th edition, which runs Jan. 27 through Feb. 7.

SBIFF's Modern Master Award is the festival's highest honor. Established in 1995, it was created to celebrate "an individual who has enriched our culture through his/her multifaceted accomplishments in the motion picture industry." Previous recipients include Bruce Dern, Ben Affleck, Christopher Nolan, Michael Douglas, Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Diane Keaton, Sean Penn, Jeff Bridges, Peter Jackson, George Clooney, Will Smith, Cate Blanchett, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Plummer and James Cameron.

"There is no actor more befitting of the Modern Master Award than the legendary Michael Keaton," SBIFF festival director Roger Durling said in a statement. "His performance in Birdman is tremendous, showing the range of decades-long experience."

The fest is expected to announce its other honorees in the coming days and weeks.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg