Jane Fonda would probably tell you she had a good time last night in Santa Barbara, or more precisely at the Bacara in Goleta. Dressed in a fetching forest green gown and looking like $75 million bucks, the two-time Oscar winner accepted the 10th annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film award, which was presented by Santa Barbara Film Festival honcho Roger Durling. The underlying agenda, of course, was to launch her Best Supporting Actress campaign for that fierce seven-minute performance as a fading actress in Paolo Sorrentino‘s Youth, which everyone went apeshit for five months ago in Cannes.

“That’s a burn-through, that scene,” I told her when I was ushered into her realm by a publicist. “You own that film completely or…you know, pretty much. That was definitely the consensus among my know-it-all journalist pals in Cannes.” Yes, a typical kiss-ass thing to say during a ballroom conversation, but it’s true — Fonda blows Michael Caine and everyone else off the screen.

Love & Mercy costar Elizabeth Banks, Diane Lane delivered lecturn praise for Fonda at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Fonda, Santa Barbara Film Festival director Roger Durling following her acceptance of 10th annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film award.

Fonda thanked me for the compliment (“It’s the truth,” I replied) but said right after that even though she and Keitel and Sorrentino shot it over and over, she wishes she could’ve done the scene once more. (She thumped my chest with her fist as she made this point — great sensation!) Her actress character is from Brooklyn, she explained, and as she gets more and more wound up during her frank-talk scene with Harvey Keitel (who plays a 70ish director) she could have slightly regressed into her Brooklyn accent. Which would’ve made it a tiny bit better, she feels.

I love this about her. All artists feel these frustrations. They’re glad that what they’ve done has tuned out reasonably well, but they mostly see the flaws, the shortcomings. Fonda said the same thing at the lecturn when she accepted the honor: “People were asking me about the clip reels…what do you feel when you see them? It’s hard…it’s hard. You just want to do them over again, make ’em better. I’m nearly 78 and I still feel like a student.”

Fonda told me I “look like Benicio.” I told her that I mostly get Christopher Walken. “Him too…a combination” she said. Then I told her we’d spoken during the Savannah Film Festival 14 or 15 years ago. “SCAD?,” she said. (The acronym for Savannah College of Art and Design, she meant.) Yeah, I said. Then I told her I’d been to Vietnam twice and would be going again in March, and asked if she’d returned herself within the last decade or two. No, she said, but she sensed what I was about to say about the younger people there, which is that for them the past is the past (their grandfathers fought in the American war) and all they want to talk about are jobs, iPhones, families, kids, the future, etc.

The usual award-season blogaroonies were in attendance, of course — Sasha Stone, Scott Feinberg, Pete Hammond, Kris Tapley, Gregg Ellwood, et. al.

The event ended just after 10 pm. It took about 15 minutes to get my car from the valet guys, and then I just flew right back. 75 to 80 mph. I was exiting the 405 onto Wilshire by midnight. If I’d been super-tired I would have crashed in Carpinteria but I’m glad I didn’t.

There’s a concurrent NYFF screening at 1 pm today of Steven Spielberg‘s Bridge of Spies (which I hear is sort of quietly Tinker Tailor-ish) and then later this evening I’ll be chatting with Truth director James Vanderbilt and then attending a post-screening q & a that he’ll be doing at Harmony Gold.