FIVE LEGENDS SHINE AT THE ACADEMY’S 10TH ANNUAL GOVERNORS AWARDS
The 10th Annual Governors Awards, held at the Ray Dolby Ballroom on November 18, 2018, celebrated the diverse roster of talent involved in bringing movies to audiences. Academy President John Bailey welcomed the attendees and those members viewing at home with a message about our art form: “We love the movies, how they define us, how they inspire and change us, how, in an ever more divided world, our movies unite us in a greater human community by an appreciation of our art and the artists who create it.”
Tom Hanks, a two-time Oscar winner and a governor from the Actors Branch, kicked off the post-dinner proceedings honoring “world-renowned contributors to the mosaic that is our film family; each is what we aspire to be— storytellers.” He then introduced honoree Marvin Levy, who made history this year as the first publicist to receive an Honorary Oscar. His career-spanning collaborations with Steven Spielberg began with Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) with subsequent titles including E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Schindler’s List (1993), and Saving Private Ryan (1998). Levy, Hanks explained, is “the man whose first brush stroke on the blank canvas can seduce us, making us just have to see the rest of the masterpiece -- and God willing, see it in a theater near you.” Two-time Oscar nominee and Actors Branch governor Laura Dern presented Levy his Honorary Award as “an integral and unflappable part of bringing the dreams of creative visionaries into the lives of generations of movie lovers.”
“This Oscar has been the most surprising and exciting award I can imagine,” Levy said upon taking the stage. “We’ve had three Presidents of the Academy—Dick Kahn, Sid Ganis and Cheryl Boone Isaacs—from our own Marketing and Public Relations Branch. But this is the first time the Academy has considered one of us for this award—so that makes it the most humbling honor, too.” He then noted his role in the organizing celebrity activism in the 1960s and thanked the people who had an impact on his career, singling out Spielberg as someone who “always treated me like a storyteller” and made a lasting impact with his charitable work like the Shoah Foundation.
Next, former Academy governor Kathy Bates introduced the achievements of composer Lalo Schifrin, “a true Renaissance man, a performer at the piano and a painter with notes, a conductor and composer who has scored some of the most memorable films of the past half century.” Schifrin’s kinetic scores for such films as Bullitt (1968), Dirty Harry (1971), Enter the Dragon (1973) and the Rush Hour trilogy have become a part of movie history, not to mention his immortal Mission: Impossible theme originally composed for the hit television series.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Clint Eastwood presented Schifrin his Honorary Award, with the music legend explaining that “composing for movies has given me a lifetime of joy and creativity. Receiving this Honorary Oscar is a culmination of a dream; it is a ‘Mission Accomplished!’”
Filmmaker Tyler Perry took to the stage to laud the achievements of actress Cicely Tyson, “a good woman with a good heart and a good soul,” a barrier-breaking force in Hollywood who reminded him of that familiar refrain, “This is my story, this is my song.” A decades-long veteran of stage and screen, Tyson earned an Oscar nomination for Sounder (1972) and captivated moviegoers in such films as Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), The Help (2011) and Last Flag Flying (2017). Quincy Jones, a seven-time Oscar nominee and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient, next saluted the “indomitable, incomparable and indefatigable” Tyson, who “cut through the wilderness of other peoples’ expectations” and has amassed a string of honors including the Medal of Freedom. Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay presented the Honorary Award to Tyson after sharing some words that she and her peers felt represented the actress: “vibrant,” “a treasure,” “unparalleled,” “flower.”
“I just went to water,” Tyson said of finding out about the award, and she shared a touching request she made for actor Arthur Mitchell to escort her to the ceremony, though sadly he was hospitalized and passed away before her trip to Los Angeles. “I know you didn’t want me to do this,” she said to her mother with her eyes to heavens as she held her Oscar, an early present for her 94th birthday next month. “But I did – and here it is!”
Oscar winner Matt Damon introduced the evening’s final honorees, married producers and Amblin Production co-founders Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, recipients of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award presented to creative producers “whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production.” He paid tribute to their “remarkable body of work” and their enduring love for their industry and all who work with them. Since 1991, their partnership has yielded Best Picture nominees including The Sixth Sense (1999), Seabiscuit (2003), Munich (2005) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).
One of their most esteemed creative partners, Steven Spielberg, explained how the legacy of Thalberg carried on this evening with the first couple to be honored with it. He shared how Kennedy, “breaker of glass ceilings,” had started out working for him but often “ended up taking over the meeting pitching her own ideas!” Together the duo created films “that echo across time” with films that have earned a formidable roster of accolades.
Marshall spoke first, explaining how he got into the business via Peter Bogdanovich and Polly Platt on Targets (1968), the start of a process that earned him work with other talents like Walter Hill, Orson Welles and Martin Scorsese. Since coming aboard Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) during its early stages in 1979, Kennedy has been a major voice in Hollywood entertainment to the present day. Together, Marshall and Kennedy have seen technology change the process of making movies, but at its core, it remains all about the art of storytelling. Kennedy recognized that she may be the first woman to receive the Thalberg Award, but “I am not the first to deserve it… and I am 100% sure I won’t be the last!”