The Palm Springs International Film Festival has announced its final honorees for this year’s Awards Gala. Jessica Chastain will receive the Spotlight Award for her work in “The Help,” “The Tree of Life,” “Take Shelter,” “The Debt” and “Coriolanus,” while composer Howard Shore will be feted with the Frederick Loewe Music Award for “Hugo.”

Shore also received the honor in 2004 for his “The Aviator" score. “Howard Shore is a master composer who has consistently delighted audiences with the more than 80 films that he has scored,” said festival chairman Harold Matzner. “He has received universal acclaim for 'Hugo,' with his compositions as dramatic and innovative as the 3D in which 'Hugo' was filmed.”

I’m not sure in which ways the 3D in “Hugo” was especially “dramatic” or “innovative.” Making good use of a format doesn’t necessarily equate to innovation, but, there you have it. Perhaps the festival chairman is referring to broadening the range in which 3D is put to use.

Previous recipients of the Frederick Loewe Music Award include T Bone Burnett, Alexandre Desplat, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard, Randy Newman and Diane Warren.

Meanwhile, 2011 is without question the year of Jessica Chastain. For a moment, early on, it looked as if the strength and variety of her portrayals were muddying the critical waters. But with SAG, Golden Globe and BFCA nominations for Best Supporting Actress for her work in “The Help,” her path to an Oscar nod is looking clearer.

Palm Springs has made an obvious, but absolutely appropriate choice in honoring Chastain with an award meant to highlight the full range of an actor’s work in a given year.

“Through a series of virtuoso performances, Jessica Chastain has established herself as one of the cinema’s most versatile and most sought after young actresses,” said Matzner. “To this actress, who captivates audiences with her adroit talents, the Palm Springs International Film Festival is honored to present the 2012 Spotlight Award."

Other honorees previously announced for this year's fest include George Clooney, Glenn Close, Michel Hazanavicius, Brad Pitt, Octavia Spencer, Michelle Williams and Gary Oldman. The festival runs January 5-16.

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