40-year-old Virgin star brightens pre-Oscar gala

Sun Feb 21, 2010 1:45pm EST
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By Edwin Chan

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif (Reuters) - Elizabeth Banks, who captured movie-goers' attention with scene-stealing turns in "The 40-year-old Virgin," may seem an unlikely choice to hand out Hollywood's premiere awards for the science of movie-making.

The 35-year-old Massachusetts native, gamely poking fun at her unfamiliarity with "digital intermediaries" and "ambient occlusion," presided ably with the aid of a teleprompter over this year's Scientific and Technical Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Saturday.

"I don't know what a sine curve is. At all," said Banks after an award recipient thanked his father for teaching him how to chart his first such graph.

The lesser-known companion to the Academy Awards, which one attendee called "the poor man's Oscars," honors the army of technology wizards that toil behind the scenes of the movie industry.

Most years, a young starlet hands out the awards in a low-key ceremony about a fortnight before the world's foremost forum for film awards.

Past hostesses have included Jennifer Garner, Kate Hudson and Jessica Biel.

Viewers will glimpse a brief recap of the event when the Oscars are televised live on March 7.

Among the awards dished out for movie magic in 2009, several honored achievements in 3D filmmaking, a hot topic in the wake of James Cameron's "Avatar," the most successful film of all time with a gross of over $2.4 billion worldwide.   Continued...

<p>Actress Elizabeth Banks poses at the Warner Bros./InStyle after party after the 67th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 17, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>