Brad Pitt, for his long career as a versatile actor and producer, will receive the Modern Master award from the Santa Barbara International Film Fest for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Ad Astra. Pitt’s work in both films are completely different. And when you put them alongside his other memorable performances in Fight Club, Seven, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Burn After Reading, 12 Monkeys, Inglourious Basterds, The Assassination of Jesse James, A River Runs Through It – you start to see a most impressive body of work from this dedicated, versatile — and, above all, humble actor that has yet to be rewarded with an Oscar win for acting, though he won for producing 12 Years a Slave, and has been nominated twice as producer, for Vice and for Moneyball. Pitt doesn’t chase it, that’s for sure, not this year, not any year. He’s only been nominated twice for acting, once for Benjamin Button and once for 12 Monkeys.
Pitt’s work in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is subtle enough that if you don’t watch the film a few times (I’ve seen it, oh, about five times now) you might not get why it is so acclaimed. Without a doubt, part of that is, simply, that he is a movie star that the camera loves. Rather than declining with age, he simply, impossibly, inexplicably becomes more of a movie star. He rarely plays parts like this — and when he does, he’s often made fun of himself, as he does in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. He makes fun of himself here, as does Tarantino, with the line “you’re too pretty to be a stunt man.” “That’s what they tell me,” he answers back.
But I love how comfortable he is in the role. There is something thrilling, something William Holden in the Wild Bunch, about his performance as the friend of the actor on the decline – Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio). Pitt’s Cliff Booth is a man of few words but who lives with the confidence of 1) being that good looking, and 2) that good of a fighter. Tarantino needed someone who could take on the Manson murderers and be able to confidently beat them. He needed a guy who would be their worst nightmare. If you know the Manson story, you know that there was a guy hiding out in a guesthouse with his dog when the murders took place. He said he heard nothing, and his dog head nothing. Tarantino used that as a springboard (I think) to imagine what if THAT guy? Was Cliff Booth, a guy who was a stunt man for a living, a guy who was once accused of killing his wife and getting away with it, a guy who is not afraid of Tex Watson in the least bit.
Pitt luxuriates in the role of Booth, in his own masculine super power and that, my friends, is somehow the power of acting, and the magic of cinema. Brad Pitt is cinema. As good as the film is, as good as DiCaprio is – this thing sparkles the way it does because of THIS performance, this presence. He is old Hollywood and new in a Hawaiian shirt, buying an acid laced cigarette from the hippies, and the one guy you want to be between you and the Manson murderers.
Here is the press release.
BRAD PITT TO BE HONORED WITH MALTIN MODERN MASTER AWARD AT 2020 SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
SANTA BARBARA, CA (DECEMBER 16, 2019) – Brad Pitt is set to receive the prestigious Maltin Modern Master Award at the 35th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Pitt will be honored on Wednesday, January 22nd for his long standing contributions to the film industry, most recently gracing the silver screen in Quentin Tarantino’sOnce Upon a Time … in Hollywood from Columbia Pictures and Ad Astra for New Regency. Leonard Maltin will return for his 29th year to moderate the evening.
“Brad Pitt wears the mantle of Movie Star with good grace. He’s been giving great performances for several decades, but he makes it look so easy that I fear he’s been taken for granted. After the one-two punch of Ad Astra and Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, this year he’s an ideal choice to be presented the Maltin Modern Master Award,” states Leonard Maltin.
Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. The ninth film from the writer-director features a large ensemble cast and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.
When a mysterious life-threatening event strikes Earth, astronaut Roy McBride (Pitt) goes on a dangerous mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones) and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe, in James Gray’s Ad Astra.
The Modern Master Award was established in 1995 and is the highest accolade presented by SBIFF. Created to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry, it was re-named the Maltin Modern Master Award in 2015 in honor of long-time SBIFF moderator and renowned film critic Leonard Maltin. Past recipients include Glenn Close, Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Bruce Dern, Ben Affleck, Christopher Plummer, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, Will Smith, George Clooney and Peter Jackson.
The 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival will take place January 15th through 25th, 2020. For more information, and to purchase tickets, festival passes and packages, please visit www.sbiff.org.