PALM SPRINGS — Hollywood's first awards show of the new year included a visit from Wonder Woman Gal Gadot and a promise from Jessica Chastain that "major change is coming" to how women are treated in the industry.
Actors Gary Oldman, Holly Hunter, Sam Rockwell and others journeyed out to the desert Tuesday night for the opening gala of the 29th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, a non-televised ceremony that offers a chance for honorees to reconnect with friends, prepare for the more high-profile upcoming Golden Globe Awards and promote critically-hailed but mostly little-seen movies.
In her speech to the crowd gathered for dinner at the city's convention center, Chastain predicted that there would be changes to what she called a "flawed system" in Hollywood. The "Molly's Game" star was one of several actresses at the ceremony supporting the just-announced Time's Up, an anti-harassment coalition.
"Major change is coming. And change is good. Change is needed," she said. "We must be better. And we will."
The 40-year-old actress grew emotional in recalling her first trip to the festival five years earlier, telling a story of spying on Gary Oldman while he was eating lunch.
Oldman also made a return trip to the festival, and was honored for his lead role in "Darkest Hour." The 59-year-old British actor drew perhaps the loudest applause of the night when he told the crowd he and his wife were planning to make Palm Springs their permanent home.
"So it feels a little bit like local boy makes good," he said with a sly smile.
Gadot appeared to hold back tears as she took the stage alongside her "Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins.
"I'm dancing from within," the 32-year-old Israeli actress told the crowd. Professing her admiration for Jenkins, Gadot teased her director, saying, "You're going to get tired of me" when filming begins this year on the sequel.
Like Gadot, newcomer Timothee Chalamet was honored as a rising star by the festival. The 22-year-old actor noted the gap at the box office between his movie, "Call Me By Your Name," and her superhero hit.
"Your film has literally made 250 times more money than my movie has. So I'm feeling a little insecure, unqualified to be up here, but that's OK," he said. Chalamet also thanked the wife of Armie Hammer, his co-star in the gay romance, "who let me crawl all over her husband for two months."