Aussies Nicole Kidman, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Jackman were among a group of Hollywood heavy-hitters who gathered for the Governors Awards in Los Angeles.
While our homegrown stars all looked amazing on the red carpet, Lupita Nyong’o arguably stole the show with a Tom Ford dress made entirely of string.
The event honouring the careers of film industry legends actress Cicely Tyson, publicist Marvin Levy and composer Lalo Schifrin brought some of tinseltown’s biggest names — Oprah, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, Harrison Ford and Clint Eastwood among them — to the Ray Dolby Ballroom in the heart of Hollywood to reminisce, laugh and schmooze without the pressure, as Hanks said, of “being nervous about who is going to win”.
The Governors Awards celebrate the careers of a few entertainment veterans who have not yet won an Academy Award by bestowing them with an honorary Oscar statuette. Recipients are voted on by the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
For the 93-year-old Tyson, it was a half lifetime coming. It had been 45 years since her first and only nomination, for Sounder in 1972.
“This is a culmination of all those years of haves and have nots,” Tyson said, noting that she’ll be turning 94 next month.
The private, untelevised dinner gala at the Hollywood & Highland complex has also become an important stop on the campaign trail to the Academy Awards for some of the year’s awards hopefuls, making the event one of the most star- studded of the season.
In a spin around the room, you can see Nicole Kidman chatting with First Mandirector Damien Chazelle, Disney CEO Bob Iger leaving his seat next to Ford to meet Lady Gaga, Eighth Grade director Bo Burnham and Roma director Alfonso Cuaron deep in conversation, Hanks and Rita Wilson stopping to greet Melissa McCarthy, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt saying hello to Hilary Swank, the cast of Black Panther posing for a photo with Marvel chief Kevin Feige and Lin-Manuel Miranda hanging out with the Crazy Rich Asians cast and, later, Jonah Hill.
But all turned their full attention to the stage and the titans being honoured when the time came. For while the event may be in its 10th year, and the honorary Oscar itself in its 60th, there was still room for a few firsts.
Levy became the first member of the public relations branch of the film academy to win an honorary Oscar, while Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy became the first woman to win the prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Memorial award — an honour that she shared with her husband and partner Marshall.
The Thalberg award is given to creative producers in recognition of their high- quality body of work, and is infrequently given out. The last Thalberg award recipient was Francis Ford Coppola in 2010.
“I’m incredibly honoured to be the first woman to receive this award,” Kennedy said to a standing ovation. “I’m not the first to deserve it and I’m 100 per cent sure I won’t be the last.”
Spielberg told the audience about hiring Kennedy to be his secretary years ago, but quickly realised that she had more to offer than just taking notes.
“The breaker of glass ceilings wherever she sets her sights,” Spielberg said of Kennedy, who now runs Lucasfilm. “She went from taking notes to taking over.”
All the honorees accepted their awards with graciousness and little bit of humour.
Schifrin, who composed the themes to Mission: Impossible and Dirty Harry, had to have a little humour in accepting his award from Clint Eastwood. Eastwood, who said he couldn’t read the teleprompter, called Schifrin up to the stage early because he wanted to ask him some questions.
On stage, Schifrin and Eastwood talked about jazz and how many movies they’d worked on together.
“You’re sabotaging my speech,” Schifrin said in good humour when Eastwood lingered. But Schifrin took hold of his moment of glory after going home from the Oscars empty-handed six times in his long career.
“Receiving this honorary Oscar is the culmination of a dream,” Schifrin, 86, said. “It is mission accomplished.”
And Levy, who has been Spielberg’s publicist for over 40 years, since Close Encounters of the Third Kind said his job has always been a little hard for people outside the business to understand. “At least now they know I got an Oscar for it,” he laughed.