The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is already well underway this year and the tribute circuit got off to the races last night with a toast to "The Theory of Everything" stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. Tonight Jennifer Aniston will get the same treatment while Michael Keaton makes the stop tomorrow.

Over the weekend, the event's annual Screenwriters Panel ("It Starts With The Script") will take place with Damien Chazelle ("Whiplash"), Alex Dinelaris ("Birdman"), Max Frye ("Foxcatcher"), Dan Gilroy ("Nightcrawler"), Jason Hall ("American Sniper"), Anthony McCarten ("The Theory of Everything") and Graham Moore ("The Imitation Game") commiserating about the fear of a blank page.

That will be followed by a panel of producing talent ("Movers and Shakers") featuring Lisa Bruce ("The Theory of Everything"), John Kilik ("Foxcatcher"), John Lesher ("Birdman"), Robert Lorenz ("American Sniper"), Teddy Schwarzman ("The Imitation Game") and Cathleen Sutherland ("Boyhood").

There will also be the annual Virtuosos event on Sunday, which used to be pretty confined with four upstarts or breakouts being recognized. But it's become a bit unruly as of late. This time around Chadwick Boseman, Ellar Coltrane, Logan Lerman, David Oyelow, Rosamund Pike, J.K. Simmons and Jenny Slate will each take the stage for a few choice minutes each. (Assuming no one bails like recent years.)

Next week, the directors panel will take place — featuring an awards component this time around (they're all getting an Outstanding Director of the Year Award). Chazelle, Richard Linklater ("Boyhood"), Bennett Miller ("Foxcatcher"), Laura Poitras ("CITIZENFOUR") and Morten Tyldum ("The Imitation Game") will participate. And the tributes will continue as well, as Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette will get a combined fete Thursday and "Foxcatcher" star Steve Carell will wrap those up on Friday.

Things will wind down with the annual women's panel ("Women in the Biz"), featuring producers Bonnie Arnold ("How to Train Your Dragon 2"), Carolyn Blackwood ("The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies"), Kristin Hahn ("Cake"), Joanna Natasegara ("Virunga") and Kristina Reed ("Feast"), as well as directors Rory Kennedy ("Last Days in Vietnam") and Aneta Kopacz ("Joanna").

It's a full program, one that has become even more packed to the gills, it seems, over the years. It's a well-positioned fest to capitalize on the awards season and showcase the talent of the circuit one more time on the road to the Oscars, and I'll dip my toe in this weekend and next week for some of the fun myself.

The 30th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival is on-going and runs through Saturday, Feb. 7.

Kristopher Tapley has covered the film awards landscape for over a decade. He founded In Contention in 2005. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Times of London and Variety. He begs you not to take any of this too seriously.