EW exclusively reveals Zendaya, Ahmed, Vanessa Kirby, and more SBIFF Virtuosos honorees.

By Joey Nolfi
February 02, 2021 at 08:50 AM EST

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival just made the wide-open Oscar race a little more interesting.

EW can exclusively reveal the event's annual list of Virtuosos Award winners, typically given to major contenders in the hunt for Academy Awards.

This year, Zendaya (Malcolm & Marie), Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Kingsley Ben-Adir (One Night in Miami), Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Sidney Flanigan (Never Rarely Sometimes Always), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), and Tahar Rahim (The Mauritanian) will all receive the Virtuosos Awards for their work in buzzy awards season titles.

Though Ahmed, Bakalova, and Kirby seem fairly stable in their respective Oscar races so far, the SBIFF prize gives Zendaya, Ben-Adir, and Day much-needed boosts heading into the thick of precursor season.

The recipients will be presented with their awards during a discussion on Saturday, April 3 at a SBIFF tribute moderated by Dave Karger.

"Even though the movie industry was turned upside down in 2020, this year's impressive — and international — roster of Virtuosos proves that that there is still a great deal of exciting rising talent delivering wonderful work," Karger said in a press statement. "I can't wait to gather this phenomenal group and introduce them to the Santa Barbara audience."

Across the last 10 years, SBIFF Virtuosos Awards have gone to dozens of contenders who've gone on to win an Academy Award or receive an Oscar nomination, including Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), and man more.

The 36th SBIFF will take place March 31 through April 10. Ticketing information is available on the festival's website. Keep up with EW's ongoing tracker gauging which films and performances are winning major awards ahead of the Oscars.

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