New York

Saoirse Ronan and Brie Larson are to be honoured at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival - sharing the outstanding performer of the year award. It is the first time the award has been given to two winners. Both are tipped for Oscar nominations for their roles in Brooklyn and Room respectively.

Larson and Ronan have both previously been awarded the festival’s Virtuoso award. They will be honoured at a ceremony on 8 February. The festival’s executive director Roger Durling said they were “proud” to jointly celebrate “these two great actresses in such strong performances”. “This is an incredible year for emerging talent to take centre stage and showcase their abilities. We’ve long been following the careers of Brie and Saoirse and their recent roles as empowered young women transcend time, place and circumstance.” Ronan’s performance in Brooklyn has already won her the New Hollywood Award at the Hollywood Film Awards. In the film she plays Eilis Lacey, a young woman from rural Ireland in the 1950s, who has to leave her home to find job opportunities and a future in the US.

Brooklyn won the top audience award at the Vancouver Film Festival in October. While captivity drama Room took home the People’s Choice award at the Toronto Film Festival in September. The film sees Larson play a woman who is kidnapped and gives birth to a son while being held captive. Both the actress and eight-year-old Jacob Tremblay have been winning critical praise for their harrowing performances.

Tremblay will also be honoured at the festival for his performance. He will be one of four actors who will take home a Virtuoso Award.

The award recognises a group of actors who have distinguished themselves through performances in the past year. The other honourees are Elizabeth Banks for her role in Beach Boys biopic Love & Mercy, Joel Edgerton for Black Mass and Paul Dano for his roles in Youth and Love & Mercy.

Also being honoured at the festival is Johnny Depp, who is being awarded the Maltin Modern Master award. While Spotlight stars Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams will be honoured as an ensemble with the American Riviera Award.