I've been kind of waiting to see how J.A. Bayona's "The Impossible" will fare with Academy and guild voters. The film hit first at Toronto. I saw it just before that and loved it. It felt, to me, like a sure-fire Oscar play. But will it find room in the bait-infested waters of December?

An award for star Naomi Watts will sure give it some higher wattage going into the holidays, and that's just what the Palm Springs International Film Festival has done. Watts will receive the Desert Palm Achievement Award at the 24th annual fest, an award that, in recent years, has gone to Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Charlize Theron, Kate Winslet and Halle Berry in recent years.

"We're delighted to pay tribute to Naomi Watts, one of the most gifted and versatile performers to grace the screen,” festival chairman Harold Matzner said via press release. "'The Impossible,' the true story of the tsunami that stunned the world with its fury, is the vehicle for Ms. Watts to display the talent and sensitivity that cinema lovers have come to expect and appreciate from her."

Competing fest Santa Barbara recently announced Ben Affleck as this year's recipient of their highest honor, the Modern Master Award. So the jockeying for position is very much off to the races (too many horse metaphors).

The 24th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala will be held on January 5, 2012 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The festival runs January 3 - 14.