Annette Bening Receives Santa Barbara Honor

“The Kids Are All Right” actress named to receive award that went to Sandra Bullock last year

If Annette Bening is looking for an omen that this could finally be her year at the Academy Awards, here’s one:

She’s just been named recipient of the American Riviera Award at the 2011 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Annette BeningThe last winner of this award was Sandra Bullock, who went on to take home the Best Actress trophy at the Oscars.

Bening has been nominated for three Academy Awards, and was considered a likely winner for “American Beauty” in 2000 before Hilary Swank won for “Boys Don’t Cry,” and a strong competitor for “Being Julia” five years later, when Swank again won for “Million Dollar Baby.”  

In the press release announcing Bening’s selection, SBIFF executive director Roger Durling commented, “I fell in love with Annette Bening the moment I saw her on Broadway in ‘Coastal Disturbances’ in 1987. It was one of those ‘a star is born’ moments.  Ever since, she's been one of my favorite actresses, and she will always have a home here at the festival.”

This year Bening is a Best Actress frontrunner for her role in “The Kids Are All Right,” while Sony Pictures Classics is also waging a campaign on her behalf for “Mother and Child.”

The award will be presented at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara on Friday, January 28, the day after the festival begins its 11-day run. Previously-announced SBIFF honorees include director Christopher Nolan and actor James Franco.

Besides Bullock, past winners of the American Riviera award include Oscar winners Philip Seymour Hoffman and Forrest Whitaker, and nominees Mickey Rourke and Diane Lane.