Last night Javier Bardem and Nicole Kidman, costars of Being The Ricardos. were given the Maltin Modern Master award by the Santa Barbara Int’l Film Festival. Inside the Arlington Theatre, I mean. Kidman appeared remotely due to a hamstring injury. The legendary Leonard Maltin himself handled the interviewing honors. It was a generally pleasant evening.

Neither Javier nor Nicole will win in their respective categories — Will Smith will take the Best Actor trophy, and the Best Actress Oscar will be won by either Jessica Chastain or (my fondest wish) Penelope Cruz, aka Mrs. Javier.

But I’d like to nominate or even hand an award to Javier for being the best person nominated in a major category — the kindest and warmest and most accessible fellow in the 2022 Oscar constellation.

Why? It’s all subjective but it comes down to something that happened 15 years ago in Cannes. That would be 2007 — the No Country for Old Men year. Javier and I were sitting on the the Cote d’Azur beach in the evening, and I bummed a Marlboro light from the guy, and as we parted company a few minutes later he gave me another — one to grow on, so to speak. I’ve never forgotten that moment, and that’s why I like him so much.

Update: I’m now thinking I might’ve gotten that wrong. The extra Marlboro Light episode might have happened at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, either in ’07 or ’08. But what’s the difference?