Mel Brooks, Angela Bassett receive honorary Oscars
LOS ANGELES, United States (AP) — Mel Brooks received his second Oscar Tuesday night at a private dinner in the heart of Hollywood. The event, the 14th Governors Awards, was untelevised but the audience was as starry as they come with the likes of Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Penélope Cruz, Natalie Portman, Bradley Cooper, and Jon Batiste.
Hollywood’s awards season can start to feel a little gratuitously self-congratulatory, but the Governors Awards is a bit of a respite from the horse race and a chance to celebrate some of the industry’s living legends, including Brooks, Angela Bassett, and film editor Carol Littleton, who all collected honorary Oscars at the Ray Dolby Ballroom, just steps from where the Academy Awards will be broadcast in March.
Michelle Satter, a founding director of the Sundance Institute, also received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
John Mulaney hosted the proceedings and got things off to a lively start.
“It’s such an honour for me to be hosting this,” Mulaney said. “Growing up, as a boy, I would always watch the non-televised Governors Awards even though they only started 14 years ago. We would all gather in front of the turned off TV. It was the only time I ever saw my dad smile.”
The annual event is put on by the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognise contributions to the industry and a life’s achievement. It used to be part of the Oscars telecast but shifted to a separate occasion in 2009, where there would be no time constraints on the speeches.
The event, which was delayed from its original November date because of the actors strike, is also a de facto campaign stop for the current season’s awards hopefuls.
Voting for the 96th Oscars begins on Thursday and nominations will be announced on January 23 for the March 10 ceremony.
Of the honorees, Brooks was up first and kept it light and brief, joking about having to sell his first Oscar for writing The Producers because times were tough. At the ceremony, in 1969, he said he wanted to “thank the academy of arts sciences and money for this wonderful award”.
Bassett gave an impassioned speech, talking about acting as not just a career but a calling. She said the honorary Oscar is not just another award but “a testament to my legacy”. In the audience, Barrino stood while Bassett spoke, cheering her on at key moments. After the event, The Color Purple director Blitz Bazawule said it was “like church”.
The 65-year-old received her first Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It and her second last year for playing the grieving queen in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. She noted that she’s only the second black actress to receive the honorary Oscar, following in the footsteps of the late Cicely Tyson who she considered a mentor.
“The stakes are extremely high because history depends on us,” Bassett said. “My prayer is that we leave this industry more enriched.”