On Thursday, the motion picture academy announced this year’s recipients of the Governors’ Awards. Action star Jackie Chan, film editor Anne V. Coates, casting director Lynn Stalmaster and documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman are all to receive honorary Oscars. This quartet will be feted in a non-televised event on Nov. 12 in the Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland. The timing is such that many of this year’s hottest Oscar prospects will attend to glad-hand voters.
The selection process was fairly straightforward. Any of the 51 members of the board of governors can put forward a name. Honorees must receive support from at least half of those on the board. While the usual limit is three honorees, there have been four honorees every year but two (2011, 2015) since these awards began in 2009. For a fourth to be named this year, he or she needed to garner two-thirds of the votes.
There are 17 branches of the academy and all but three — Casting Directors, Public Relations and Visual Effects — were represented by at least one honorary Oscar winner among the 121 previous recipients. Until now, Film Editors had just one (Margaret Booth, 1977) while the Documentary branch had three (Pete Smith, 1953; William L. Hendricks, 1961; and D.A. Pennebaker, 2012). Compare that to Actors (47), Directors (22) and Producers (10).
We had asked our readers for their top choice from a roster of 10 previous Oscar nominees for acting. By a wide margin, they went with Doris Day. This screen legend 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 would also have been a worthy choice for the Hersholt humanitarian award, which had been given out for the last five years running.
In second place with our readers was Max von Sydow. This Swedish-born actor has contended at the Oscars twice — in lead for “Pelle the Conqueror” (1988) and in supporting for “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” (2011) — and is renowned for his collaborations with auteur Ingmar Bergman. Still going strong at age 87, von Sydow just reaped an Emmy bid for his guest turn on the drama series “Game of Thrones.”
Chan’s award pedigree is somewhat limited stateside, with three MTV Movie, two Kids’ Choice and one People’s Choice awards on a mantle crowded with trophies from various groups in Asia.
Coates won an Oscar on her first nomination, for cutting the epic “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962) and has contended four times since: “Becket” (1963), “The Elephant Man” (1980), “In the Line of Fire” (1993) and “Out of Sight” (1998).
Stalmaster, began working in casting in the mid-1950s, and worked on such classics as “Inherit the Wind,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “The Graduate,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Harold and Maude,” “Deliverance,” “Coming Home,” “Tootsie” and “The Right Stuff.”
Wiseman has never been nominated for an Oscar but won Emmys for two of his early documentaries: “Law and Order” (1969) and “Hospital” (1970).
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