The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Governors Awards were back in their usual spot on the calendar Saturday night, as Hollywood turned out to honor Michael J. Fox, Diane Warren, Euzhan Palcy and Peter Weir at the Fairmont Century Plaza.
Last year’s awards were postponed due to COVID and instead took place just two days before the Oscars in March.
Just about everyone with a movie in the Oscar race was on hand to pay their respects to the quartet, from Paul Dano and Michelle Williams of “The Fablemans” to Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry of “Causeway” and Laura Dern of “The Son” .
Attendees included Cher, Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Olivia Wilde, Florence Pugh, Jordan Peele, Jonathan Majors, Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Austin Butler, Aldis Hodge, Gabrielle Union, Jeremy Pope, Glen Powell, Angela Bassett, Margot Robbie and Jean Smart.
“Back to the Future” star Fox was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an Oscar statuette given “to an individual in the motion picture arts and sciences whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”
Woody Harrelson introduced Fox with a rousing speech. “He didn’t choose to be a Parkinson’s patient or advocate, but make no mistake, it’s his best achievement,” Harrelson said. “Vulnerable, yes. A victim, never. An inspiration, always and the living breath symbol and unique voice to progress towards healing. The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research has raised more than $1 billion for charity to date. Michael J. Fox provides the ultimate example of how to fight and how to live, and today he is loved as much for his activism as he is for his acting,” said Harrelson.
“It’s a completely unexpected honor and I’m really grateful,” said Fox upon receiving the award. “It struck me that everything I’ve been given—success, my life with Tracy, my family—had prepared me for this great opportunity and responsibility. It was a gift,” he said of his work raising money for Parkinson’s research.
Cher introduced Diane Warren, who has been nominated 13 times for an Oscar but never won until her Governors Award. Warren, who burst into tears when speaking about her dead parents, said: “I’m thrilled that I get to do this, that I get to write songs, that I get to write a song from a movie that can make someone cry, someone can give.” hope, make someone feel something, make a memorable moment, something they might remember for a lifetime – this is what I was born to do. This is what I just love to do.
“I want to say one more thing,” Warren concluded. “One more time the words I thought I could never say, but always dreamed I would say: I want to thank the Academy.”
Jeff Bridges introduced Weir and shared some anecdotes about their time working on ‘Fearless’.
“I love you man so much and I admire you so much,” Bridges said.
A six-time Academy Award nominee, Weir reminisced about his career directing films like “Witness” and remembered some of his late collaborators, such as Norman Lloyd and Robin Williams. “It was great to watch him when there wasn’t a crowd around, just two or three people, when he would be grabbed by this inspiration and become such an extraordinary character,” Weir said of Williams.
Viola Davis introduced Palcy, whose movie “A Dry White Season” earned Marlon Brando his last Oscar nomination. “Euzhan Palcy has had a fascinating life. But tonight I want to focus on her work. Because it is through her work that she made her mark, bringing truth to power, pulling back the curtain on things that were hidden from so many, and sharing stories with a global audience that needed to be told.”
Palcy ended the night with a fiery, inspirational speech, outlining why she stopped making films because she was “exhausted” from trying to convince people to believe in her. “I had lost my willingness to hear those words, black is not bankable, woman is not bankable, black and woman is not bankable. Come on guys! Look at my sister standing next to me. Black is bankable. Woman is affordable. Black and feminine is affordable!
“My stories are not black. My stories are not white. My stories are universal, they are colorful,” she said, “I congratulate the Academy for helping lead the leadership to change our industry and for opening the doors to it that were closed to the ideas and vision I have held for so long. advocated for.’