Stars Shine in Newport Beach

The nouveau best and brightest of Hollywood were recently honored in (where else?) Newport Beach, at The Resort at Pelican Hill on a sunny Sunday morning. The carpet was red, the sky a clear blue, and the ballroom that guests shuffled into once the elegant outdoor brunch ended was swirling with neon lights as brilliant as the stars themselves.

At the annual Newport Beach Film Festival Fall Honors featuring Variety‘s 10 to Watch, the energy is expectantly high. Actors and actresses recognized at the prestigious event aren’t just talented entertainers; they’re true artists, carving a unique niche in an oft-crowded industry. And for some, the honor marks the first big award they’ve ever received.

“Yes, you’re in the right place,” joked Gary C. Sherwin, president and CEO of Newport Beach & Company after welcoming the crowd to the 2019 iteration of the yearly tradition. Newport Beach may not be framed by the shadow of a hilly Hollywood sign, but it’s fast becoming a significant center for cultural innovation and artistic progress.

Beyond the talent, which arrived in spades, this particular morning brimmed with bold style. From Noah Jupe’s can’t-miss-’em red pants to Camila Morrone in a pearly white suit-dress, there was no doubt the honorees came to be seen. Guest Adam Shankman looked effortlessly coastal casual in a checkered button-up, light jeans and off-white kicks; Stephanie Beatriz dazzled in a pleated pink and orange geometric number; and Downton Abbey‘s Allen Leech looked ever the Irish gentleman in a sleek gray jacket and matching slacks.

But back to the awards. Notably, 2019 marked the first year all 10 of the Variety‘s 10 to Watch winners attended the event. This year’s honorees included:

Icon Award

  • Alfred Woodard (Clemency, 12 Years a Slave)

Artist of Distinction Awards

  • Stephanie Beatriz (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” upcoming In The Heights)
  • Allen Leech (Downton Abbey, Bohemian Rhapsody)
  • Tracy Letts (Ford v. Ferrari. Little Women)
  • Melissa Rauch (The Laudromat, “The Big Bang Theory”)

Variety‘s 10 to Watch

  • Jessie Buckley (Judy, Wild Rose, “Chernobyl”)
  • Cynthia Erivo (“The Color Purple,” Harriet)
  • Maya Hawke (“Stranger Things,” Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
  • Kelvin Harrison, Jr. (Luce, Waves)
  • Noah Jupe (A Quiet Plae, Ford v Ferrari, Honey Boy)
  • Rob Morgan (The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Just Mercy)
  • Camila Morrone (Mickey and the Bear)
  • Glen Powell (Hidden Figures, Top Gun: Maverick)
  • Margaret Qualley (“Fosse/Verdon,” Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Seberg)
  • Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“On Becoming a God in Central Florida”)

“There is no ‘I’ve made it,'” said Stranger Things‘ Maya Hawke during the 10 to Watch panel expertly moderated by Variety Deputy Awards & Features Editor Jenelle Riley. Hawke’s words echoed the unpretentious grit and creative zest most panelists displayed. “You’re constantly unemployed,” she said of life lived in the filmy spotlight. “It just seems like, ‘Well, today is OK,’ and then we’ll see tomorrow when we get there.”

Added Ford v Ferrari‘s Jupe when describing his own Hollywood journey: “For me the choice is school or this … I’m going to go with this.”

And Jessie Buckley of Wild Rose had the room giggling with her response when asked how she’s settled into her newfound fame: “I only feel comfortable once we’ve shot enough and I know they don’t have the budget to replace me.”