SBIFF Announces Virtuosos Award Winners

Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuosos Award—honoring (clockwise from top left) Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman),
Hong Chau (Downsizing),
 Mary J. Blige (Mudbound),
Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name), Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick),
and John Boyega (Detroit)—takes place on Saturday, February 3, at 8 p.m. at the Arlington Theatre. Courtesy photos.

Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuosos Award—honoring (clockwise from top left) Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman),
Hong Chau (Downsizing),
 Mary J. Blige (Mudbound),
Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name), Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick),
and John Boyega (Detroit)—takes place on Saturday, February 3, at 8 p.m. at the Arlington Theatre. Courtesy photos.

Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuosos Award will once again honor many of the most notable performances in Hollywood this year. The award, presented by UGG, takes place on February 3 at the Arlington Theatre.

“2017 has seen a variety of breakout performances,” states Roger Durling, Executive Director of SBIFF. “We are thrilled to celebrate this diverse group of actors who have earned their place as some of the most talented individuals working in the industry today.”

The group will be recognized for their breakthrough roles in 2017 and careers thus far. Daniel Kaluuya gives a star-making performance as the unsuspecting yet resourceful Chris Washington in the speculative thriller Get Out. Bringing to life the enduringly popular comic book character of the same name, Gal Gadot balances formidable prowess and a genuine sense of hope in her role in this summer’s critically praised, conversation-changing Wonder Woman. Hong Chau delivers an inspiring performance in the social satire Downsizing, in which she brings humor and compassion to the role of Ngoc Lan Tran. In Detroit, John Boyega gives a captivating turn as Melvin Dismukes, a security guard who is falsely accused of killing three men on one of the most horrific nights in American history. Based on a true story that he co-wrote, Kumail Nanjiani brings comedy, pathos, and dramatic stakes to The Big Sick as a man whose girlfriend falls into a mysterious coma. In Mudbound, renowned singer/songwriter Mary J. Blige delivers a powerful and solemn turn as Florence Jackson, a mother struggling to maintain land in 1940s Mississippi. In Call Me By Your Name, Timothée Chalamet gives a brilliant and heartfelt performance as Elio, a teenage boy who begins a relationship with his father’s assistant.

Prior recipients for the award include Dev Patel, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Ruth Negga, Alicia Vikander, Rosamund Pike, J.K. Simmons, Eddie Redmayne, Quvenzhane Wallis, Rooney Mara, Melissa McCarthy, Andrew Garfield, John Hawkes, Hailee Steinfeld, Jacki Weaver, Carey Mulligan, Saoirse Ronan, Gabourey Sidibe, Casey Affleck, Marion Cotillard, Viola Davis, Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Melissa Leo, Ellen Page, Amy Ryan, Michael Shannon, Brie Larson, Jared Leto and June Squibb.

For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 20, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Red Carpet Cocktails

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

The Academy Awards are on Sunday. My money’s on Argo to take home the biggest prize of the night—and firmly cement the Santa Barbara International Film Festival as the must-stop red carpet event to strut your stuff on the way to the Oscars. I’m still marveling at how many Oscar-bound stars made it to the festival this year.

Meanwhile, for those of us who won’t be at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre this weekend, the competition for Oscar-inspired libations is every bit as fierce as the race for Best Picture. Here are some red carpet cocktails to make your home viewing party a hit!

Do your favorite films and your favorite cocktails match up? You’ll have to watch—and try—them all to make an educated decision.


While beautifully shot and acted, to say this movie is a downer is the understatement of the year. However,’s version of The Amour cocktail is a sparkling champagne cocktail designed to invoke the earlier romance of the movie’s couple. Plus, a few sips of this might help you brace yourself for the intensity of the movie.


Bacardi USA mixologist Manny Hinojosa (how’s that for a cool-sounding job title?) has come up with a delicious-sounding Argo-inspired Scotch-Campari cocktail with elderflower liqueur, basil and ginger ale, The Diplomatic Escape.  Certainly one of the most purely entertaining movies in the bunch, a little Scotch can only help this film go down even smoother.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Cajun Lemonade is a great treat to celebrate this bayou-themed beast. This spiked version from Food & Wine includes a generous splash of Vodka (or Rum), but nine-year-old star (and nominee) Quvenzhané Wallis—who gives an amazing performance in this haunting film—should probably stick to good old lemonade.

Django Unchained

Grey Goose Vodka did a whole series of Oscar-inspired cocktails, but this Coco Django is a standout—it even alludes to a quirky coconut drink that one of the characters has in a pivotal scene.

Les Misérables

The Les Misérables Cocktail from, featuring French brandy, is worth taking your time to absorb, just like this sprawling, epic movie set in 19th-century France.

Life of Pi

The Citrus Seas, from Dallas’s SideDish Magazine,  is sublime and sea-worth salute to Ang Li’s beautiful film. They recommend Shellback Silver Rum, but like the Cajun Lemonade, this one would be equally tasty with Vodka.


Basil Hayden’s Bourbon pays tribute to Lincoln with this take on a traditional cocktail, Lincoln’s Manhattan, mixing Bourbon, both sweet and dry vermouth, and maple syrup. They had me at Daniel Day-Lewis.

Silver Linings Playbook

Word on the street is that Robert De Niro loved this Purity Silver Linings Playbook Martini at the Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook event. Another one of my favorite movies of the year … and there’s certainly not much to dislike about a pure Vodka and spring water cocktail!

Zero Dark Thirty

The Drake Hotel in Chicago has come up with Zero Dark Worthy, a “heavy martini made from Vodka, Cherry Brandy and Dark Crème de Cacao to commemorate the very heavy substance of the film. The title of the Zero Dark Thirty is, as director Kathryn Bigelow explains, “a military term for 30 minutes after midnight, and it refers also to the darkness and secrecy that cloaked the entire decade-long mission (to capture Osama Bin Ladin).”

Pass the popcorn! Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on February 22, 2013.