The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have selected this year’s honorees. Honorary Oscars will be bestowed this year to actress Angela Lansbury, actor/writer and three-time Oscar emcee Steve Martin, and costume designer Piero Tosi, with the Jean Hersolt Humanitarian Award being bestowed to Angelina Jolie for her immense philanthropy efforts. “The Governors Awards pay tribute to individuals who’ve made indelible contributions in their respective fields,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “We couldn’t be more excited for this year’s honorees and look forward to bringing their peers and colleagues together to celebrate their extraordinary achievements.”
Legendary actress Lansbury has received three Academy Award nominations throughout her rich and varied career which has been amassed on stage, screen and television. She was nominated for her performances in the classic films Gaslight (1944), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), and her iconic turn as the evil mother pulling all the strings in John Frankenheimer’s classic 1962 political thriller The Manchurian Candidate; however, she has never won a competitive Academy Award. The choice in acknowledging Lansbury is notable as well in shining a light on the Board of Governors’ past, which regularly slighted deserving women in Hollywood over the years. Only eleven women have ever received honorary Oscars, and only two have received this honor since 1993 – Lauren Bacall and Deborah Kerr. Other classic films Lansbury appeared in include The Long, Hot Summer, Blue Hawaii, Death on the Nile and voice work in Beauty and the Beast, the first animated film to ever be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
Martin has never been nominated for an Academy before, despite starring being a prolific and critically respected actor and writer. He has, however, hosted the Oscars telecast three times (once sharing the duties with his It’s Complicated co-star Alec Baldwin) and this has to be seen an acknowledgement for his rich comedic efforts, which typically go under the radar on terms of awards and honors. Martin has starred in popular crowd-pleasers like The Jerk (1979), Pennies From Heaven (1981), All of Me (1984), Roxanne (1987), Parenthood (1989), Father of the Bride (1991), Bowfinger (1999) and most recently shepherded the hit Pink Panther and Cheaper by the Dozen re-boot franchises. As a writer, he has penned the screenplays for The Jerk, Roxanne, L.A. Story, Bowfinger, and adapted Shopgirl from his own novella. Throughout his career he has received five Golden Globe nominations and won the New York Film Critics Best Actor prize for his acclaimed performance in All of Me.
Tosi is a distinguished costume designer and art director and while the only name of the group who may not be a household name contributed to a litany of classic films. He has received five Oscar nominations throughout his career– for The Leopard (1963), Death in Venice (1971), Ludwig (1973), La Cage aux Folles (1979) and La Traviata (1982.)
The most contentious honoree will likely be Angelina Jolie, receiving the Jean Hersolt Award. The 38-year-old actress becomes the youngest Board of Governors honoree to date. However, she is being honored for her immense humanitarian efforts over her professional career as an actress. Jolie, who won the Oscar for 1999’s Girl, Interrupted, has famously traveled the world and tirelessly worked for advocacy groups like the Council on Foreign Relations and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner. Recent recipients of the Jean Hersolt Award include Jeffrey Katzenberg and Oprah Winfrey. The awards will be handed out November 16th in Hollywood.
Honorary Oscars used to be a tradition on the annual awards telecast, but a few years back the Academy made the decision to make it a separate event, perhaps in an effort to trim a few minutes off the typically bloated telecast. The new tradition is that the honorary awards are bestowed at their own banquet. The honorary Oscar is given “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.” The Jean Hersolt Humanitarian Award, named after the legendary actor/producer who served as Academy president from 1945-1949 is given “to an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”