If George Clooney were the matador of this year’s film festival, then Naomi Watts was certainly the picador or possibly the banderillero. Naomi Watts graced our humble town on Saturday as the recipient of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s (SBIFF) Montecito Award. The SBIFF gives the Montecito Award to an actor or actress who has given a series of classic and standout performances throughout his or her career. Appearing in humble glamour, Watts slowly made her way into the Marjorie Luke Theatre, where a short montage of all of her film roles was shown. After the sequence, a very rosy-cheeked and embarrassed Watts took the stage. Watts responded to questions about her early career and other notable Australian film personalities. After discussing her admiration of and friendship with Nicole Kidman, Watts examined select moments of her 13-year career. Interestingly, Watts said she never had a problem dealing with fame because “people never seem to recognize [her] and if they do, they must not believe it because [she] rarely [gets] stopped.” Early clips from “Dangerous Beauty” and “Strange Planet” verified that Watts was going to be a screen presence to be reckoned with. The complete transformation and intensity of her characters in David Lynch’s “Mulholland Dr.” showed that she was coming into her best years late in her acting shelf life. After discussing “21 Grams,” which director Alejandro Inarritu was present for, Watts commented on her Oscar nomination.

“Of course I was sad, but I was relieved at the same time because it gave me such great attention, which led to some of my following roles.”

As for life after “King Kong,” Watts stated, “Oh, I am sure he will be following me around for a long time.”