LOS ANGELES (AP) — Four standing ovations in one night might seem like a bit of a stretch, even by Hollywood standards. But at the Governors Awards on Saturday night, where Michael J. Fox, Euzhan Palcy, Peter Weir and Diane Warren were celebrated with honorary Oscar statuettes, every moment felt worthy.
After several years adjusting to the pandemic, the annual event hosted 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 swarming with stars including 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, Janelle Monáe and Ron Howard, to name a few.
The Governors Awards are a celebration of the winners and a chance for many filmmakers and actors hoping to win awards to mingle with potential voters before everyone takes off for the holidays with an armful of screens to watch and consider. .
“It’s a really special night,” Butler said. “I just had a really special time with Robert Downey Jr.”
It was the first Governors Awards for the “Elvis” star, who was joined by director Baz Luhrmann and Priscilla Presley.
The Governors Awards room brings many unexpected star couples, as everyone is clamoring to meet someone they admire. Near a table, Hanks could be seen laughing with Yeoh. Elsewhere in the room, Chastain chatted with Billy Eichner, while Jude Law met director Daniel Kwan and Ke Huy Quan posed for a photo with Elizabeth Banks and Rian Johnson.
But the main event put everyone in their place: the presentation of the honorary Oscars.
Fox, who received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his contributions to Parkinson’s disease research, was the first and received a colorful introduction from his friend Woody Harrelson.
“He really is a great guy,” Harrelson said. ” What can I say ? He is Canadian.
The 61-year-old ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Family Ties’ star was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 at the age of 29 and in 2000 set up a foundation to fund new disease research. To date, the foundation has raised over $1.5 billion.
“My optimism is fueled by my gratitude,” Fox said.
Fox gave a lively, funny and thoughtful speech accepting the award. He shared how he dropped out of high school to try his luck and a teacher told him, “Fox, you’re not gonna be cute forever.”
“I didn’t know how to respond and said, ‘Maybe just long enough,'” Fox said.
He had a particularly difficult year with injuries including a broken cheek, hand, shoulder, arm and elbow, and the loss of his mother, who died in September, which he has spoken of in depth in a recent cover of People magazine. story. Tracy Pollan, Fox’s wife with whom he has four children, was there to support him and he called her on stage to close his speech.
“I can’t walk and carry this thing (the Oscar) so I’m once again asking Tracy to carry the weight,” Fox said.
Cher was on hand to introduce Warren, the prolific songwriter and 13-time Oscar nominee. She laughed that Warren calls her often to tell her she’s written her best song to date, to which Cher replies, “You always say that.”
When Warren took the stage, she said the words she’s been waiting to say for 34 years since earning her first Oscar nomination: “I want to thank the Academy.”
“Mom, I finally found a man,” Warren said, looking at the golden statuette. “I know you wanted him to be a nice Jewish boy but it’s really hard to say.”
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, too, reflected on Williams, with whom he worked on “Dead Poets Society,” and marveled at the way Williams was when no one was around and inspiration arose.
Weir, 78, was a leading voice in Australia’s New Wave movement, with hits like ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’, ‘The Last Wave’ and ‘Gallipoli’, before successfully transitioning to Hollywood cinema where he has crossed genres with ease directing films like ‘Dead Poets Society’ and ‘The Truman Show’ to ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’. The Australian author has received numerous 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 craftsmanship, I think that’s what it’s all about. Don’t you like something that is well made, be it a chair, a table or a statue? »
Davis helped close out the evening by celebrating Palcy, who was the first black woman to direct a film produced by a major studio (MGM with “A Dry White Season.”)
“I always stand up for my femininity and my blackness,” Davis said. “You said, ‘I’m not going to do this, I’m going to wait for the work that is worthy of my talent.’ You used it as fuel for warriors.
Palcy also retired from Hollywood cinema over the past decade, but unlike Weir, the 64-year-old Martinique native is ready to come back and make movies again.
“Black is bankable. The woman is bankable,” Palcy said. “My stories are not black, they are not white, they are universal.”