Creativity and longevity were the key words on Nov 12 at the eighth annual Governors Awards in Hollywood, as Oscars were handed to four individuals who collectively represented about 225 years of film experience.
Honorees were Jackie Chan, editor Anne V. Coates, casting director Lynn Stalmaster, and documentarian Frederick Wiseman at Hollywood & Highland.
At the cocktail reception and the pre-dinner schmoozing, the conversation was dominated by the Nov 8 election won by Donald Trump, as well as handicapping the current awards season, with most of the films in contention being represented.
However, politics and the 2016 awards took a back seat once the 75-minute ceremony started, with knockout clip montages and verbal tributes to the four honorees.
Chan, looking about the same age as he did in the 1970s scenes of his work, climaxed the evening with the shortest and most exuberant speech, saying that years ago, he saw an Oscar at Sylvester Stallone’s house, and knew he wanted one of his own. Now, 56 years, 200 films, and many broken bones later, he had one.
In introductory remarks, Tom Hanks compared him to John Wayne and Buster Keaton, and described him as “Chan-tastic”. Chan thanked the people of Hong Kong and said he was proud to be Chinese. He ended his brief remarks by thanking his fans.
The ceremony began with a trophy to Stalmaster, the first casting director to ever be given an Oscar. (The Academy added a casting director branch a few years ago, but so far, there is no category for an award.) Visibly moved, Stalmaster saluted the many directors he worked with, including Billy Wilder, Robert Wise, William Wyler, Mike Nichols, Norman Jewison, Sydney Pollack, and Blake Edwards.
There were audible gasps at the spectacular footage from Lawrence Of Arabia, part of the tribute to editor Coates, who started out as an assistant on the classic The Red Shoes. Nicole Kidman said that the film industry often salutes directors, but editors are the “unsung heroes” of the industry.
In the Wiseman clips, a voice marvelled that he has made 41 films, he’s in his 80s “and he still holds the boom!” Don Cheadle presented the award, praising Wiseman for his empathetic studies of various American institutions, adding, “In these times, there’s nothing more important than empathy.”
The audience was jam-packed with Hollywood notables who represented a cross-section of Hollywood, from veterans like Warren Beatty and Bruce Dern to 21st century game-changers including Ava DuVernay and Megan Ellison.
The impressive list of attendees also included Sylvester Stallone, Jeff Bridges, Viola Davis, Alexandre Desplat, Laura Dern, Joel Edgerton, Andrew Garfield, Hugh Grant, Rebecca Hall, Naomie Harris, Lucas Hedges, Taraji P. Henson, Isabelle Huppert, Felicity Jones, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Viggo Mortensen, Ruth Negga, Lupita Nyong’o, Dev Patel, Ryan Reynolds, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Shannon, Sylvester Stallone, Emma Stone, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jennifer Todd, Vince Vaughn, and Michelle Yeoh. – Reuters/Tim Gray