The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have finally announced the results of their vote Tuesday night (August 26) for the annual honorary Governors Awards. These awards are much sought after and many industry insiders lobby the governors for their favorites. This batch of award-winners is notable for its global diversity: a French writer, a Japanese animator, an African-American activist and an Irish actress.
The honorary Oscar statues will be presented on November 8 at the 6th Governors Awards ceremony at Hollywood & Highland to famed French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière ("The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie"), Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki ("Spirited Away"), and actress Maureen O’Hara ("The Quiet Man"). The coveted Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award will go to activist Harry Belafonte.
The Academy Board of Governors awards the Honorary Oscar “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.”
Carrière began his career as a novelist and won an Oscar with Pierre Étaix for the live action short “Heureux Anniversaire (Happy Anniversary)” in 1962. He was nominated twice more for writing Luis Buñuel's “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” and “That Obscure Object of Desire.” Carrière also worked with directors Volker Schlöndorff (“The Tin Drum”), Jean-Luc Godard (“Every Man for Himself”) and Andrzej Wajda (“Danton”). He earned a fourth Oscar nomination for “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” with director Philip Kaufman.
Studio Ghibli chief Miyazaki is known as the Walt Disney of Japan. The artist/writer/director/producer has been nominated for the Oscars three times for his animated features and won in 2002 for “Spirited Away.” (His other nominations were for “Howl’s Moving Castle” in 2005 and “The Wind Rises” last year.) Miyazaki is world renowned for such features as “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind,” “Laputa: Castle in the Sky,” “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and breakout global hit “Princess Mononoke.”
Dublin native O’Hara came to Hollywood in 1939 to star opposite Charles Laughton in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” She appeared in the swashbucklers “The Black Swan” and “Sinbad the Sailor,” the dramas “This Land Is Mine” and “A Woman’s Secret,” the family classics “Miracle on 34th Street” and “The Parent Trap,” the spy comedy “Our Man in Havana” and numerous Westerns, most notably those of John Ford, such as “How Green Was My Valley,” “Rio Grande” and “The Quiet Man.”
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Oscar goes “to an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.” Past winners include Angelina Jolie, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Oprah Winfrey.
Actor/producer/singer/activist Belafonte was born in Harlem and always chose projects that exposed racism and inequality, including “Carmen Jones,” “Odds against Tomorrow” and “The World, the Flesh and the Devil.” He marched and organized alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and put his money into activist causes. Belafonte was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1987, currently serves on the boards of the Advancement Project and the Institute for Policy Studies and continues to travel on behalf of children, education, famine relief, AIDS awareness and civil rights.
For the fourth year in a row, no Irving Thalberg award is being given.