Santa Barbara Film Fest: Five Oscar Nominees Tapped for First Directors of the Year Award

A Director and His Star
Kendrick Kidd

"We all have that choice. Everyone thinks that they had a tough childhood, even if they came from the most privileged means, but it's tough to be a human being," says Linklater. "I wanted to portray someone who'd been dealt a hand. It wasn't a great hand, but it's the hand that he's dealt. And he handles whatever comes his way."

Five Oscar-nominated filmmakers — Whiplash's Damien Chazelle, Boyhood's Richard Linklater, Foxcatcher's Bennett Miller, Citizenfour's Laura Poitras and The Imitation Game's Morten Tyldum — will become the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's first-ever recipients of the fest's newly-created Outstanding Directors of the Year Award, SBIFF announced on Tuesday.

The honor was borne out of the fest's directors panel, a popular annual gathering that has taken place for years on an afternoon during the middle weekend of the 12-day fest. Now — for fest's 30th edition, which will run from Jan. 27 through Feb. 7 — it is being moved into primetime: conversations with each filmmaker individually, followed by a group discussion, will take place on the evening of Feb. 4 at the Arlington Theatre.

I am very pleased to report that I will serve as the moderator for the evening.

Read more How The Weinstein Co. Turned 'Imitation Game' Director Into an Oscar Contender

The filmmakers are an eclectic bunch: Chazelle, who turned 30 this week, received a best adapted screenplay Oscar nom for Whiplash; Linklater, who recently won Golden Globe and Critics' Choice awards, landed best director and best original screenplay Oscar noms after spending parts of 12 years making Boyhood with the same cast, something unprecedented in the narrative filmmaking realm; with Foxcatcher, Miller landed his second directing nom in the past decade and has now directed a male performer to a best actor Oscar nom in each of his three features; Poitras, for the Edward Snowden portrait Citizenfour, secured her second best documentary feature nom in the past decade; and Tyldum, a Norwegian who had never made a film in America prior to The Imitation Game, is now a best director Oscar nominee.

Read more Laura Poitras on Snowden Doc 'Citizenfour,' Possibility the Fugitive Will Return to U.S.

"This past year we have seen so many phenomenal achievements in directing," SBIFF festival director Roger Durling said in a statement. "We're honored to have not one, but five great directors at SBIFF to share their insights with us."

The fest previously announced that it will be presenting its Cinema Vanguard Award to The Theory of Everything's Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones; Modern Master Award to Birdman's Michael Keaton; Outstanding Performer of the Year Award to Foxcatcher's Steve Carell; American Riviera Award to Boyhood's Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette; Montecito Award to Cake's Jennifer Aniston; and Virtuosos Award to Obvious Child's Jenny SlateFury's Logan Lerman, Boyhood's Ellar Coltrane, Get On Up's Chadwick Boseman, Gone Girl's Rosamund Pike, Whiplash's J.K. Simmons and Selma's David Oyelowo.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg