The honor -- named after the legendary film critic and longtime SBIFF moderator Leonard Maltin -- is a celebration of Pitt's contributions to the film landscape during his acclaimed career spanning more than three decades.
After being presented the honor by director David Fincher -- who famously worked with Pitt in the acclaimed films Seven, Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button -- the 56-year-old movie star accepted the honor with humility and humor.
"It's things like this and nights like these that tell me I'm old. I've been around a while and I've been doing this for a bit," Pitt joked.
Listing some of the signs that he's gotten older in recent years, Pitt explained, "I can't do night shoots anymore, and I'll gladly hand a stunt over to a stunt man. I no longer remember the first rule of Fight Club."
"But it's also nights like this where I get to look back and I feel really, really blessed," Pitt continued. "I feel so fortunate to all the amazing people I've been able to work with who have taught me so much and who've touched my life. From editors and composers and amazing directors who have sent me on a trajectory that has meant so much to me... I feel really blessed to be here and I feel grateful for this."
Pitt jokingly added that receiving the Modern Master Award "is not going to help my hubris issues."
ET's Keltie Knight spoke with Pitt on the red carpet outside the event, held at Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, where he opened up on what it means to receive the award.
"One, it means I'm old," Pitt joked, before adding, "Two, it's nice for me."
"I've been spending a lot of time here since 1999, so it feels homey for me," he explained. "My kids spend a lot of time out here, friends a lot of time out here. So, that feels nice. I don't know, I haven't done one of these things before so we'll see what happens."
The honor comes as a precursor to this year's Oscars, where Pitt is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the Quentin Tarantino-directed drama. He is nominated alongside Tom Hanks for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,The Irishman's Al Pacino and Joe Pecsi, and Anthony Hopkins for his role in The Two Popes.
Earlier this month, Pitt took home the Golden Globe for his role in the period dramedy, and is the odds-on favorite to walk away with the coveted Golden Statue. It would be Pitt's first acting Oscar, after he previously earned an Oscar as a producer when 12 Years a Slave took home Best Picture in 2014.
The once again host-less Oscars air live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on ABC.