THE ANGELS — Four standing ovations in one night might seem a bit much, even by Hollywood standards. But at the Governors Awards on Saturday night, where Michael J. Fox, Euzhan Palcy, Peter Weir and Diane Warren were honored with honorary Oscar statuettes, every moment felt worthy.
After several years adjusted by the pandemic, the annual event to present the honorary Oscars, organized by the governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, was back in full swing at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel on Saturday .
The ballroom was packed with stars like Tom Hanks, Viola Davis, Colin Farrell, Angela Bassett, Margot Robbie, Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Yeoh, Robert Downey Jr., Michelle Williams, Cher, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Rooney Mara, Jessica Chastain, Damien Chazelle, Jordan Peele, and Ron Howard to name just a few.
The Governors Awards is a celebration of the honorees and a chance for many of the filmmakers and actors hoping to win awards to mingle with potential voters before everyone heads off on vacation with plenty of viewers to watch and consider.
“It’s a really special night,” Butler said. “I just had a really special moment with Robert Downey Jr.”
This was the first Governors Award for the “Elvis” star, who was joined by director Baz Luhrmann and Priscilla Presley.
“Armageddon Time” actor Jaylin Webb, another newbie and self-proclaimed “superhero nerd,” was excited to see several people from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
“It’s a bit overwhelming,” Webb said.
The Governors Awards room brings many unexpected star couples as everyone clamors to meet someone they admire. Near a table, Hanks could be seen sharing a laugh with Yeoh. Elsewhere in the room, Chastain chatted with Billy Eichner, while Jude Law met with director Daniel Kwan and Ke Huy Quan posed for a photo with Elizabeth Banks and Rian Johnson.
But the main event brought everyone to their seats: the presentation of the honorary Oscars.
Fox, who was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his contributions to Parkinson’s disease research, was first, receiving a colorful introduction from his friend Woody Harrelson.
“He’s a genuinely great guy,” Harrelson said. “What can I say? He’s Canadian.
The 61-year-old “Back to the Future” and “Family Ties” star was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991 at age 29 and in 2000 started a foundation to fund more research into the disease. To date, the foundation has raised more than $1.5 billion.
“My optimism is fueled by my gratitude,” Fox said.
Fox delivered a sharp, funny and thoughtful speech to accept the award. She recounted how she dropped out of high school to give acting a try and was told by a teacher, “Fox, you’re not going to be cute forever.”
“I didn’t know how to answer and I said maybe long enough,” Fox said.
He’s had a particularly challenging year with injuries, including a broken cheek, hand, shoulder, arm and elbow, and the loss of his mother, who died in September, all of which he spoke at length on a recent cover of People magazine. history. Tracy Pollan, Fox’s wife with whom he has four children, was there to support him and he called her on stage to close her speech.
“I can’t walk and carry this thing (the Oscar), so once again I ask Tracy to carry the weight,” Fox said.
Cher was on hand to introduce Warren, the prolific songwriter and 13-time Oscar nominee. She laughs that Warren often calls her to tell her that she’s written her best song yet, to which Cher replies, “You always say that.”
As Warren took the stage, he said the words he’s been waiting to say for 34 years, ever since he earned his first Oscar nomination: “I’d like to thank the Academy.”
“Mom, I finally found a man,” Warren said, looking at the golden figurine. “I know you wanted him to be a good Jewish boy, but it’s really hard to tell.”
Jeff Bridges came out to celebrate Weir, the Australian filmmaker who directed him in the 1993 film “Fearless.” He said it was Robin Williams who brought them together.
Weir also reflected on Williams, with whom he worked on “Dead Poets Society,” and marveled at what Williams was like when no one was around and inspiration struck.
Weir, 78, was a leading voice in Australia’s New Wave movement, with films including “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” “The Last Wave” and “Gallipoli,” before successfully transferring to Hollywood filmmaking, where he crossed genres. easily directing movies like “Dead Poets Society” and “The Truman Show” to “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.” The Australian auteur has received many Oscar nominations over the years, but hasn’t made a feature film since 2010’s “The Way Back.”
“I spent 20 wonderful years doing studio photography,” Weir said. “I love crafts, I think that’s what it’s all about. Don’t you love something that is well made, be it a chair, a table or a statue?
Davis helped close out the night by celebrating Palcy, who was the first black woman to direct a movie produced by a major studio (MGM with “A Dry White Season”).
“I’m always standing up for my femininity and my blackness,” Davis said. “You said, ‘I’m not going to do that, I’m going to wait for work that is worthy of my talent.’ You used it as warrior fuel.
Palcy has also retired from Hollywood movie making in the past decade, but unlike Weir, the 64-year-old Martinique native is ready to return and make movies again.
“Black is profitable. The woman is bankable,” Palcy said. “My stories are not black, they are not white, they are universal.”
Follow AP film writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr.