Octavia Spencer, whose performance in "The Help" has made her a prime contender for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, has been named recipient of the Palm Springs International Film Festival's Breakthrough Performance Award, PSIFF announced on Wednesday.
Spencer will join the previously announced honorees George Clooney, Glenn Close, Michelle Williams and Michel Hazanavicius at the festival's Awards Gala, which will take place on Saturday, January 7 in the desert resort town east of Los Angeles.
“Octavia Spencer is a consummate actress who seamlessly blends her dramatic and comedic talents, creating performances of uncommon depth,” said festival chairman Harold Matzner in a press release announcing the award. “As the irascible Minny in 'The Help,' she captures the essence of a woman who deals with life head on, relishing confrontation and serving as a source of courage and humor for those whom she loves."
Past recipients of the award include Carey Mulligan, Marion Cotillard and Mariah Carey, who caused quite a sensation with her rambling and disjointed acceptance speech in 2010.
Together with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival later in the month, Palm Springs is a festival whose galas and tributes are seen as opportunities for high-profile campaigning.
The 23rd annual Palm Springs International Film Festival will take place from January 5 through January 16.