PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) — The Award Season Express made its first stop of the new year in the middle of the desert a couple hours east of Hollywood at the annual Palm Springs International Film Festival gala.

A blast of Golden Globe nominees and Oscar hopefuls walked the press gauntlet Saturday night, including Naomi Watts ("The Impossible"), Helen Hunt and John Hawkes ("The Sessions"), Ben Affleck ("Argo") and "Arbitrage" star Richard Gere, who received the night's so-called Chairman's Award.

"Great," Gere noted with more than a touch of sarcasm. "That's better than the Governors Award?" he inquired with a chuckle. "What's the pecking order of these awards? I want to know. Am I getting the best award? I'm not going in unless I'm getting the best award!"

Though the 63-year-old Gere has never received an Oscar nomination, there were previous Academy Award winners aplenty at the Palm Springs gala. Among them, Sally Field, the night's honoree for career achievement, including her hard-won role of Mary Todd in director Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln."

"I still can't believe I got the role," Field replied, cracking a smile. "Did I get it."

Turning serious, Field told the black-tie audience she was proud to be part of the film and happy to still be working. "I'm very lucky. ... Next year it'll be 50 years that I've been in the business as a professional. It's been a wild ride," she said.

This upcoming week, the Awards Season Express has a bit of a wild ride itself, with the People's Choice show, two critics awards ceremonies and Thursday morning's Oscar nominations.

So how does the phrase "Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper" sound to the "Silver Linings Playbook" actor?

"That would be incredible," Cooper answered, explaining that he just may sleep through the pre-dawn nomination announcements. "Yeah, I'm sure I'll get up, but maybe I'll be asleep. I don't know."

And just three days after the Oscar nominations, it's the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards — a "much, much friendlier" show, exclaimed "Hitchcock" nominee Helen Mirren.

"And it has to do with those tables in still quite a small room," she added. "They haven't allowed it to get enormous. ... Everybody table jumps and chats. It's always slightly naughty. The hosts are always naughty. I can't wait to have Tina Fey and Amy Poehler doing it. That's going to be such fun."

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Complete list of 2013 Palm Springs International Film Festival honorees:

__"Argo's" Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin and Bryan Cranston received the Ensemble Performance Award.

__Bradley Cooper, the actor Desert Palm Achievement Award for "Silver Linings Playbook."

__Naomi Watts, the actress Desert Palm Achievement Award for "The Impossible."

__Helen Hunt, Spotlight Award for "The Sessions."

__Helen Mirren, International Star Award for "Hitchcock."

__Mychael Danna, the Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing for "Life of Pi."

__Richard Gere, Chairman's Award for "Arbitrage."

__Robert Zemeckis, Director of the Year Award for "Flight."

__Sally Field ("Lincoln"), Career Achievement Award.

__Tom Hooper, the Sonny Bono Visionary Award for "Les Miserables."

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Online:

http://www.psfilmfest.org/index.aspx

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