Who should the American Film Institute select as its 47th life achievement award recipient? Last year’s announcement of actor George Clooney as the honoree came on October 5, so the decision is probably in the works right now. Which top actress could join him among the honorees in 2019? After reviewing the possible choices, be sure to vote in our poll below as to who you think would be the best selection. A separate poll about male possibilities will be published soon.
Prior to picking composer John Williams for the 2016 honor, the AFI had only chosen actors, actresses, and directors starting way back in the 1970s when the recipients were director John Ford (1973), actor James Cagney (1974), director/actor Orson Welles (1975), director William Wyler (1976), actress Bette Davis (1977), actor Henry Fonda (1978), and director Alfred Hitchcock (1979).
Past recipients, besides Williams and Clooney, who are still with us: actor Kirk Douglas (1991), actor Sidney Poitier (1992), actor Jack Nicholson (1994), director Steven Spielberg (1995), actor/director Clint Eastwood (1996), director Martin Scorsese (1997), actor Dustin Hoffman (1999), actor Harrison Ford (2000), actress/director Barbra Streisand (2001), actor/director Tom Hanks (2002), actor Robert De Niro (2003), actress Meryl Streep (2004), director George Lucas (2005), actor Sean Connery (2006), actor Al Pacino (2007), actor/director Warren Beatty (2008), actor/producer Michael Douglas (2009), actor Morgan Freeman (2011), actress Shirley MacLaine (2012), director/actor Mel Brooks (2013), actress Jane Fonda (2014), actor/writer Steve Martin (2015) and actress Diane Keaton.
Other than Spielberg and Hanks, who were 49 and 46 respectively when they were honored, everybody else has been at least in their mid 50s. For our ladies’ poll, we set the minimum age as 50. Our list of women includes Oscar-winning actresses Julie Andrews, Sandra Bullock, Sally Field, Jodie Foster, Nicole Kidman, Jessica Lange, and Julia Roberts, plus Oscar nominees Annette Bening, Glenn Close, and Sigourney Weaver.
Don’t look for Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in the poll. It is very unlikely they would agree to attend the ceremony, and that’s one of the major requirements. An entire evening is devoted to the person as a key fundraiser for the AFI.