PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA • Stars including Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and Johnny Depp were honoured last Saturday at the 27th Palm Springs International Film Festival gala at the Convention Center in California.
The black-tie awards gala is "the first stop on the campaign trail for the major Academy Award contenders", said Mr Harold Matzner, chairman of the 10-day festival.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, he pointed out that over the last three years, 28 of the Palm Springs honourees went on to pick up Oscar nominations.
Blanchett and Depp took the Desert Palm Achievement Award for actress and actor for their respective performances in Carol, a romantic drama film, and crime drama Black Mass.
Damon was awarded the Chairman's Award for his work in The Martian. He took the opportunity to campaign for Ridley Scott, the film's director who also attended the festival.
"What he's given to cinema, it's not an accident," said Damon. "He's just a master director. There are a handful of them on planet earth, but he is one of them.
"I was shocked to find out - look, awards, whatever, who gives a s**t, except for this one - but I thought that he already had an Academy Award because he directed a best picture. Gladiator won Best Picture, but he wasn't a producer on Gladiator. And so, the bottom line is, he's given more than enough to cinema, so I hope that this is his year."
Scott, who directed Gladiator, never received an Academy Award, despite three nominations.
Brie Larson, who won the Breakthrough Performance Award for her role in Room, thanked her co-star Jacob Tremblay and director Lenny Abrahamson, who both presented her with the honour.
The International Star Award for actor went to Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), and for actress, Saoirse Roman (Brooklyn).
Others who turned up to present awards included Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Michael Keaton, Paul Dano and Scott Cooper.
Among the international films in the festival's selection this year are Mountains May Depart by Jia Zhangke, Utopians by Hong Kong director Scud and The Assassin by Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao- hsien.