Last night, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Honorary Oscars to Spike Lee and Gena Rowlands, as well as the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Debbie Reynolds.
The Honorary Award, an Oscar statuette, is given “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.”
“The Board is proud to recognize our honorees’ remarkable contributions at this year’s Governors Awards,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “We’ll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished – with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference – will also enrich future generations.”
All three awards were presented at the Academy’s 7th Annual Governors Awards last night, Saturday, November 14 – an event that apparently wasn’t nationally televised.
Thankfully the Academy has already made footage of the night’s highlights available online via YouTube, and I’ve embedded the tribute to Spike (which included Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, and Denzel Washington, and was 12 minutes long) as well as Spike’s lengthy (18 minutes long), poignant, and at times hilarious acceptance speech. He took his time and it was great, getting all his industry hooks and jabs in. This was his long-coming Oscar moment (albeit an honorary Oscar) and he was going to make the absolute most of it, and I don’t blame him!
Spike joins a growing list of other talents who have never been recognized by Oscar for individual performances, and were later given Honorary Awards – James Earl Jones being one of them (nominated for Best Actor in 1970 for "The Great White Hope" but didn’t win; and in 2012, a long 42 years later, was celebrated with an Honorary Award).
So first watch the rollicking tribute with Snipes, Jackson and Washington; and then, underneath it, watch Spike’s acceptance speech. Good stuff all-around!