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Santa Barbara Film Festival to Give Virtuosos Awards to Ruth Negga, Dev Patel, Naomie Harris

SBIFF honors for breakthrough performances will also go to Aaron Taylor Johnson, Janelle Monae, Mahershala Ali, Simon Helberg and Stephen Henderson


The Santa Barbara International Film Festival will give its 2017 Virtuosos Awards to actors Aaron Taylor Johnson, Dev Patel, Janelle Monae, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Ruth Negga, Simon Helberg and Stephen Henderson, SBIFF organizers announced on Friday.

The Virtuosos Award is designed to salute performers who have had a breakthrough year, with past recipients including Alicia Vikander, Chadwick Boseman, David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike. The awards will be presented on Feb. 4, 2017, at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, as part of the 12-day Santa Barbara Film Festival, which will run from Feb. 1-11.

Aaron Taylor Johnson’s breakthrough performance this year came in Tom Ford‘s psychological thriller “Nocturnal Animals,” which has screened at film festivals and will be released later in the year. Dev Patel, who first made his mark in “Slumdog Millionaire” nine years ago, starred in Garth Davis‘ “Lion.” Ruth Negga played Mildred Loving, a black woman married to a white man in the South in the 1960s, in Jeff Nichols‘ “Loving.” “The Big Bang Theory” star Simon Helberg moved to the big screen and played Meryl Streep‘s long-suffering accompanist in “Florence Foster Jenkins.” Stephen Henderson moved from Broadway to film in Denzel Washington‘s adaptation of August Wilson’s “Fences,” which earned Henderson a Tony nomination.

Janelle Monae, Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris all made their mark in Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” with Monae also starring in the upcoming “Hidden Figures.”

“This year has been monumental in the breadth of talent breaking through in distinct and emotional roles,” Santa Barbara Film Festival Executive Director Roger Durling said in a statement. “We are excited to honor both new and familiar faces, and look forward to celebrating them and their contribution to the craft.”

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which takes place in the coastal town 100 miles north of Los Angeles, presents a variety of special awards that are seen as ways for awards contenders to get a boost during the period between the announcement of Oscar nominations and the beginning of voting.