Scoop: Damon leads Oscar charge for ‘Martian’ director Scott

Ridley Scott, right, presents the Chairman's award to Matt Damon at the 27th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala on Saturda in Palm Springs. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Matt Damon launched a bold new phase of Oscar campaigning for his “The Martian” director on Saturday, telling a crowd that Ridley Scott has “given more than enough to cinema” over his career to deserve an Academy Award.

Damon spoke at the opening night gala for the Palm Springs International Film Festival, a nontelevised black-tie dinner at the desert city’s convention center. It’s become a well-attended stop on the busy Hollywood awards circuit due to its timing during the Oscar nominations voting period and eight days before the Golden Globe Awards. Honorees Johnny Depp, Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale and Michael Fassbender also took the stage.

Damon said he was shocked to discover that the 78-year-old director of “Blade Runner” and “Alien” had never won an Oscar despite three nominations and his helming of 2001 best picture winner “Gladiator.”

“He’s just a master director. There are a handful of them on planet Earth. But he is one of them,” Damon said. “Awards — whatever, who gives a [expletive]. I mean, except for this one. But … I hope this is his year. I don’t know if you’re supposed to say that out loud. But … when I did ‘The Departed,’ we said it out loud a lot about Marty (Scorsese) and it panned out.”

Boston Marathon movie

America’s marquee marathon is ready for its close-up.

“Boston,” the first feature-length documentary film about the Boston Marathon, is in the works. Its creators say the movie will go well beyond the 2013 bombings to retrace the iconic footrace’s first steps in 1897.

“Over the years, the Boston Marathon has had so many extraordinary stories of people achieving and accomplishing things,” said producer Megan Williams, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker. “It’s like looking at cultural and social change over the last century through the lens of this major sporting event.”

Force still strong with this film

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” marched confidently into the new year, raking in an additional $88.3 million over the New Year’s weekend and topping the box office for a third week, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Happy birthday

Singer Spencer Chamberlain of Underoath is 33. … Actor Damon Gupton (“Empire”) is 43. … Actor Dave Foley (“NewsRadio,” “Kids in the Hall”) is 53. … Singer Michael Stipe of R.E.M. is 56. … Country singer Patty Loveless is 59. … Guitarist Bernard Sumner of New Order (and Joy Division) is 60. … Actress Barbara Rush (“Peyton Place”) is 89.

Got scoops or Bay Area celebrity gossip? Email scoop@sfexaminer.com.

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