SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 09: (L-R) Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr. and Rob Lowe attend the Maltin Modern Master Award during the 39th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival on February 09, 2024 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Red Carpet Photos from the 39TH ANNUAL SBIFF MALTIN MODERN MASTER AWARD Featuring Honoree Robert Downey Jr., Presented by Rob Lowe & Cillian Murphy, Moderated by Leonard Maltin

Red carpet photos and interviews from the 39TH ANNUAL SBIFF MALTIN MODERN MASTER AWARD Featuring Honoree Robert Downey Jr., Presented by Rob Lowe & Cillian Murphy, Moderated by Leonard Maltin

39th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival – Maltin Modern Master Award – Honoree Robert Downey Jr.

Honoree Robert Downey Jr. (Actor), Presenters Rob Lowe & Cillian Murphy, Moderator Leonard Maltin

About The Event:

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is honored to announce that cinema icon Robert Downey Jr. will receive the Maltin Modern Master Award, its highest accolade, at the 39th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Downey Jr. will receive the prestigious award on Friday, February 9, 2024.

The ceremony will include an in-person conversation between Downey and legendary film historian and critic Leonard Maltin, for whom the award is named. The duo will discuss Downey’s expansive five-decade acting career, his rise to becoming one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful actors to date, culminating in his recent searing, indelible performance as Lewis Strauss in Christopher Nolan’s staggering, global cinematic phenomenon, Oppenheimer.

Robert Downey Jr. is a two-time Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner who has amassed more than 110 acting credits over the course of his career, including the title character in the blockbuster Iron Man franchise, which launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe and reshaped the last 15 years of global cinema. He earned a Golden Globe Award for his lead performance in the action-adventure Sherlock Holmes, and two Academy Award nominations for Tropic Thunder, and his powerful portrayal of Charlie Chaplin in Richard Attenborough’s 1992 biopic Chaplin. Upcoming acting projects include Max’s TV adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer, in which he plays an impressive four supporting roles, and the Paramount Pictures remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller Vertigo.

“Robert Downey Jr. has staged one of the most spectacular second acts in show business history…and we in the audience are the beneficiaries. He commands the screen without any visible effort, which is perhaps the greatest feat of all,” said Leonard Maltin.

Christopher Nolan adds, “It’s thrilling to see audiences responding not just to Robert Downey Jr’s incredible charisma, but to a performance which, stripped of any movie star trappings, shows once again that he is one of the greatest actors.”

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer is an IMAX®-shot epic thriller that explores the paradox of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the enigmatic man who must risk destroying the world in order to save it. Downey Jr. plays Lewis Strauss, a founding commissioner of the Atomic Energy Commission who helped shape America’s post-war nuclear policy, and as Oppenheimer’s chief administration adversary, led the effort to revoke his security clearance and discredit him.

The Modern Master Award was established in 1995. Created to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry, it was re-named the Maltin Modern Master Award in 2015 in honor of long-time SBIFF moderator and renowned film critic Leonard Maltin. Past recipients include Academy Award winning actors Jamie Lee Curtis, Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, Cate Blanchett, George Clooney and Christopher Plummer, and acclaimed filmmakers including Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Clint Eastwood and Peter Jackson.

  • When introducing Robert Downey Jr, moderator Leonard Maltin said: “He wears all of this so lightly, his resting face is a smile, I promise you, you’ll see for yourself. He’s truly one of a kind.”
  • Robert Downey Jr. said: “I am so proud to be at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. I shouldn’t have read up on it, obviously I knew, but it’s so renowned.”
  • On whether he would do anything else, Robert Downey Jr. shared: “Well, I worked at a sandwich shop, I worked at a shoe store, but I had sticky fingers and got fired after 2 weeks. I worked at a club. So I had to resort to theater.”
  • Rob Lowe said: “I’ve known Robert Downey Jr. since my freshman history class at Santa Monica High School. SanMo High! and I’ve watched my lovely friend’s adventures that eventually brought him here tonight, and Robert’s story is being a once in a generation talent and courageous performer.”
  • On the director’s he’s worked with, Robert Downey Jr. stated: “You just want to feel like you’re making them happy. It’s one of these weird things where you just want mom or dad to see you’re a good boy, like hey you gave me this job.”


About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival:

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 38 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 100,000 attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes, and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film.

Sponsors of the 39th SBIFF include: Manitou Fund, Black Market Spirits, DAOU Vineyards, Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Panavision, Santa Barbara City, US Bank, Montecito Bank & Trust, Yardi, Kaleidoscope Productions, ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties, American Society of Cinematographers, John C. Mithun Foundation, Audrey Hillman Fisher Foundation, Northern Trust, Netflix, Visit The Santa Ynez Valley, Bentson Foundation, Volentine Family Foundation, Toad&Co, Topa Topa Brewing Company, Boxed Water Is Better, Saige Private Wealth, El Encanto and many more generous supporters.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

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