“Birdman” star Michael Keaton will receive the Modern Master Award at the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, SBIFF organizers announced on Tuesday.
The Santa Barbara festival, which takes place in the coastal town an hour north of Los Angeles at the end of January and the beginning of February each year, gives out a number of awards at gala presentations that are used as de facto campaign stops during awards season.
Keaton, whose performance in Alejandro G. Inarritu’s “Birdman” has been hailed as a career-reviving turn that makes him one of the Best Actor frontrunners, will accept the award on Saturday, Jan. 31 at the Arlington Theatre.
The Modern Master Award is SBIFF’s highest honor, and in the past has gone to Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Diane Keaton, Sean Penn, Jeff Bridges, Bruce Dern and George Clooney.
(Another past winner is Michael Douglas, which is Keaton’s real name; he had to change his professional name because of SAG rules.)
The press release announcing Keaton’s award said the honor will be given to Keaton in recognition of “his distinguished career,” but the focus will clearly be on “Birdman,” a jazzy black comedy in which Keaton plays an egotistical Hollywood actor trying to mount a comeback on Broadway long after abandoning the superhero role that made him famous.
Keaton’s other roles include Ron Howard‘s 1982 comedy “Night Shift,” in which he first became known, as well as “Mr. Mom,” “Beetlejuice,” “Clean and Sober,” “Jackie Brown” and Tim Burton‘s two “Batman” movies, in which Keaton played the title role.
In recent years Keaton has largely been out of the spotlight, though he has appeared in the HBO series “Live From Baghdad,” the TNT miniseries “The Company,” and in the films “Toy Story 3,” “The Other Guys,” “Robocop” and “Need for Speed.”
Keaton’s honor is the first of the SBIFF awards to be announced this year. The other major film festival that gives out honorary prizes during awards season, the early-January Palm Springs International Film Festival, is expected to begin announcing its own honorees in the coming weeks.
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival will take place from Jan. 27 through Feb. 7 and will feature more than 200 films, tributes and symposiums. Tickets are available now at www.sbiff.org.