Renee Zellweger has been named the recipient of this year's American Riviera Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

The Judy star will collect the accolade at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, California during the 35th edition of the event in January.

Announcing the award on Tuesday, the festival's executive director, Roger Durling, said, "Ms. Zellweger has always displayed a deep commitment and discipline in her performances which has always made me root for her and admire her deeply. In Judy, she adds a ferocity that solidifies her as one of the greatest actors of her time."

Renee's role as Judy Garland in the new biopic has also scored her Oscars buzz, with many critics insisting she's the one to beat for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

The American Riviera Award is given to actors and filmmakers, who have made "a significant contribution to American cinema".

Past recipients include Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, and Sandra Bullock.

Next year's Santa Barbara International Film Festival will begin on 15 January.

The 50-year-old has been poised as an awards season favourite ever since the film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last month and earned an emphatic standing ovation.

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