Santa Barbara Film Fest: 'Saving Mr. Banks' Star Emma Thompson to Receive Modern Master Award

The 54-year-old two-time Oscar winner, who is currently receiving rave reviews for her portrayal of P.L. Travers, will be celebrated for her extensive body of work.

Emma Thompson will receive the Modern Master Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, it was announced Tuesday.

The 54-year-old two-time Oscar winner -- she won best actress for Howards End (1992) and best adapted screenplay for Sense and Sensibility (1995) and also was nominated for best actress for The Remains of the Day (1993), best supporting actress for In the Name of the Father (1993) and best actress for Sense and Sensibility -- will be honored on Feb. 8 at Santa Barbara's historic Arlington Theatre as part of the festival's 29th edition, which runs Jan. 30 through Feb. 9.

In John Lee Hancock's Saving Mr. Banks, which had its U.S. premiere at the AFI Fest on Nov. 7 and will be released nationwide by Walt Disney Pictures on Dec. 20, Thompson has her best role in years. She plays P.L. Travers, the no-nonsense British author of the novel Mary Poppins, who reluctantly agrees to meet with Walt Disney (two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks), the all-American movie mogul who tried for 20 years to convince her to sell him its film rights, when she begins to run out of cash. Adhering almost entirely to the historical record, the film cuts between her two weeks in Hollywood in 1961, as Disney and his collaborators struggle to win her script approval, and her early 20th century upbringing in Australia, in the home of a loving but alcoholic father (Colin Farrell) who inspired the Poppins character of Mr. Banks.

VIDEO: 'Saving Mr. Banks' Star Emma Thompson Shares P.L. Travers Insights, Favorite Films

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 multi-faceted accomplishments in the motion picture industry." Previous recipients include 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.

“With the distinction of being the only artist to win an Oscar for both Best Actress and Best Screenplay, Ms. Thompson exemplifies the spirit of the Modern Master,” Roger Durling, SBIFF's executive director, said in a statement.

The fest previously announced that it will honor Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels' The Butler) with its Montecito Award, Blue Jasmine's Cate Blanchett with its Outstanding Performer of the Year Award and Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels' The Butlerwith its Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film. Additional announcements are expected shortly.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg