The motion picture academy announced Thursday that Angelina Jolie will receive the Hersholt humanitarian prize at the upcoming Governors Awards while Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin and Piero Tosi will all get honorary Oscars. Jolie already has an Academy Award on her mantle, winning in 1999 for her supporting performance in “Girl, Interrupted.”
Last year, eyebrows were raised when no performers were part of the quartet recognized at these kudos. While three-time Oscar nominee Lansbury (“Gaslight,” 1944; “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” 1945; “The Manchurian Candidate,” 1962) will be a popular choice, she may have bumped out your top pick for the honor — Doris Day.
Once again, the board of governors snubbed this screen legend who topped the box office list for four years (1960, 1962 – 1964) and was a one-time Oscar nominee (“Pillow Talk,” 1959). With all the work she has done over the years as an animal advocate, she also would have been a worthy choice for the Hersholt.
Jolie is being lauded for her efforts on behalf of refugees, including a dozen years working with the United Nations. The academy also made mention of her appearance in 2007’s “A Mighty Heart,” which reaped her Golden Globe and SAG bids but no Oscar nod.
While Martin has never been nominated for an Oscar, he has hosted the kudos three times and appeared in the 1977 Oscar contender for live action short “The Absent-Minded Waiter.”
Tosi reaped five bids for Best Costume Design but was edged out each time, including for his three nominated collaborations with Luchino Visconti — “The Leopard” (1963); “Death in Venice” (1971); and “Ludwig” (1973) — as well as for “La Cage Aux Folles” (1979) and “La Traviata” (1982).
The selection process is fairly straightforward. Members of the board put forth suggestions, with each of the top choices then voted on individually. Honorees must receive support from at least half of those on the board. The usual limit is three honorees. For a fourth person to be named, he or she needs to garner two-thirds of the votes.
Since the academy shifted these honorary kudos from the telecast to a separate non-televised ceremony four years ago, they have feted 15 people.
In 2009, honorary Oscars went to actress Lauren Bacall, cinematographer Gordon Willis and producer Roger Corman while studio executive John Calley received the Thalberg Award.
In 2010, honorary Oscars were bestowed on actor Eli Wallach, filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard and film historian Kevin Brownlow while Francis Ford Coppola was given the Thalberg.
In 2011, honorary Oscars were awarded to actor James Earl Jones and makeup pioneer Dick Smith while TV personaility Oprah Winfrey was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
In 2012, the academy snubbed on-screen talent entirely with honorary Oscars going to stuntman turned director Hal Needham, documentarian D.A. Pennebaker and director/producer George Stevens, Jr. while studio exec Jeffrey Katzenberg received the Hersholt.