Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Look at the Recipients of This Year's Governors Awards

Left to right: Angelina Jolie, Angela Lansbury, and Steve Martin
This past Sunday, the Academy held their annual Governor's Awards to honor individuals who have done a great deal of work towards cinema. Over the many years, the list of recipients have ranged in overall quality and much like Steve Martin this year, some haven't even received a nomination in their career. While it is a shame that the honorary awards are not recognized at the Academy Awards ceremony like the other awards, it is nice to see them getting their moment to shine. Most of the highlights have been posted on the Oscars' Youtube page for your casual viewing. To honor the four recipients, I have compiled a look at each of the attendees history with the Academy Awards and share some personal thoughts as well.

It is strange to note that the Academy doesn't show as much love to the honorary recipients as they do the nominees of that year. While it is arguably due to time restrictions, the ceremony's already three plus hours of length could do with recognizing their history by highlighting those that paved the way. Even though they do it briefly, it is arguable that there should be some time set aside to focus on the history. Every year has a look back on their cultural landmarks (last year being musicals), and it would only seem right to fit them in. Maybe it would seem awkward to the pacing, but as a whole, it isn't that convoluted. 

While it may be that this was my first year viewing the Governor's Awards, I find that there is something in those speeches that are missing in the brief package shown on the televised ceremony. It could be that they are allowed to be more candid and thus talk longer (Steve Martin clocked in the longest at 8 minutes and 26 seconds). In that respect, the Governor's Award Ceremony makes sense. It allows for the impact to resonate more, even if it doesn't translate in brevity of being played out by Jaws theme music.

Here is a look at the recipients as well as the videos of their acceptance speeches. While I have done my best to look distinctly at nominations, I feel it is important to also note some of their hosting gigs for the show as well, as they are just as crucial to the ceremony's success. Here is a quick rundown of the four nominees, who introduced them (with video links), and what previous Academy Award achievements they have acquired.

Angelina Jolie

Introduced By: The cast of In the Land of Blood and Honey, Gena Rowlands,  and George Lucas
Governor's Award: Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
Previous Win/s: Best Supporting Actress - Girl, Interrupted
Other Nomination/s: Best Actress - Changeling

There is already plenty of conversation around this video largely because it is the only recipient to not be an honorary nominee. In fact, she is being recognized for her humanitarian work. As she goes on to state in the speech, she realizes just how lucky she was to be born with privilege and that she must do her part to make a difference in the world. While not as recognized for her later work, efforts like In the Land of  Blood and Honey reflect her desire to change the world and make a difference. Along with her recent announcement of having cancer, she comes across as the most noble winner of the night and has one of the strongest speeches. It is arguable that it was because she wasn't an honorary and thus wasn't wrapped up in sentimentality. However, it is a hopeful speech and one that definitely deserves the conversation it has risen.

Piero Tosi

Governor's Award: Honorary Reward
Previous Win/s: None
Other Nominations: 5
-Best Costume Design (Color) - The Leopard
-Best Costume Design - Death in Venice
-Best Costume Design - Ludwig
-Best Costume Design - La Cage aux Folles (shared with Ambra Danon)
-Best Costume Design - La traviata

While it is hard to not say this without coming off as ignorant, I am not familiar with any of the films for which she had been nominated for. With some quick research, I did discover that they were period pieces, and that alone is hard to pull off. I suppose she deserves credit for helping to shape the way in which cinema dresses their characters and creates a sense of authenticity.

Steve Martin

Introduced By: Bill Taylor, Martin Short, and Tom Hanks
Governor's Award: Honorary Award
Previous Win/s: None
Other Nominations: 1
-Best Live Action Short (as writer)
Hosting the Oscars: 3
-The 82nd Annual Academy Awards (with Alec Baldwin)
-The 75th Annual Academy Awards
-The 73rd Annual Academy Awards

It is bizarre to think that beloved comedian Steve Martin managed to get the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor before receiving a nomination for his acting or writing. The comedian has had a long, prestigious career of defying the odds and when films like L.A. Story or All of Me get overlooked, it is sort of a shame. He brought absurd humor to poetic stories and intelligence and care to his performances. While he ranks as one of the most entertaining performers with a rap sheet of Saturday Night Live appearances to envy, he hasn't been recognized for his screen work by the Academy all that much. This award feels long overdue, but definitely all the more deserved for a legacy that managed to turn a banjo-playing magician into one of the most respected performers today.

Angela Lansbury

Governor's Award: Honorary Award
Previous Win/s: None
Other Nominations: 3
-Best Supporting Actress - Gaslight
-Best Supporting Actress - The Picture of Dorian Gray
-Best Supporting Actress - The Manchurian Candidate

It may be strange that the final recipient was Angela Lansbury, who is more widely recognized for her work on Murder, She Wrote. In her acceptance speech, she pretty much sums up the strange choice for her to win the award, if just because of this fact. It is an informative one that also explains her legacy in general. While she starred in films in the earlier years of the Academy Awards, she isn't defined by them. However, with a resume that does include The Manchurian Candidate, it isn't too bad of an acknowledgment. Even her work with introducer Robert Osborne of TCM shows how she helped classic cinema re-air on TV. In a way, this may be the closest that the Academy comes to giving an award for television, which isn't that bad at all.

Who was your favorite recipient? Do you feel that anyone was overlooked or more deserving? Should the speeches and recipients be part of the regular broadcasting?

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