Last night Viola Davis (Doubt), Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Melissa Leo (Frozen River) and Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) got the red-carpet treatment from the Santa Barbara Film Festival by the handing out of Virtuoso Awards.

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The nakedly honest Shannon and Davis got the biggest laughs, although I managed to not capture their best moments on video. Jenkins was his usual elegant, self-effacing self. Leo radiated pluck, positivism, determination. DeWitt was clever and frank, but it was impossible to ignore the fact that she has truly great gams.

Davis made the fundamental point that when most of us think of actors we think of Brad Pitt or Meryl Streep or other marquee names. And yet they, the Big Five, are a much more realistic representation of the acting community. Devoted, hard-working, talented, not necessarily glamorous, etc.

Asked to describe his unique identity as an actor, Shannon said he’d seen Bronson at the Sundance Film Festival, “a movie about a hardcore prisoner who wanted attention and felt that fame was his due so he kept beating guys up, knowing that as long as he did this and was relentless at it that his fame would continue to grow. I’m glad I’m not that guy.”

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Michael Shannon, In Contention‘s Kris Tapley at after-party.

Rosemary DeWitt speaking to SBFF director Roger Durling.

Melissa Leo

Richard Jenkins

Michael Shannon