In what has become a reliable bellwether of Oscar nominations, the 26th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present JK Simmons with the Spotlight Award, Actor at its annual awards gala.

Simmons will attend the January 3 ceremony and is earning the reviews of his life for his portrait of the fierce music conservatory instructor in Whiplash.

“Throughout his career JK Simmons had played a wide range of roles from tough guys in Oz and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films to nicer guys in Juno and Up in the Air,” said PSIFF chairman Harold Matzner.

“In Whiplash, Simmons’ shines with his tough guy portrayal of a music teacher, who physically and emotionally terrorises a young drummer, and gives a captivating performance that is alternately hilarious and terrifying.

Previous Spotlight winners include Julia Roberts, Jessica Chastain, Amy Adams and Helen Hunt. All four received Oscar nominations in the year they were honoured in Palm Springs.

PSIFF is set to run from January 2-12.