The American Film Institute announced on Friday that Denzel Washington will be receiving their 2019 life achievement award. The 47th annual AFI ceremony will be held on June 6 in Hollywood. Washington is a two-time Academy Award winner for “Glory” (1989) and “Training Day” (2001). His other seven Oscar nominations were for “Cry Freedom” (1987), “Malcolm X” (1992), “The Hurricane” (1999), “Flight” (2012), “Fences” (2016, acting and producing) and “Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017).
Actor and director George Clooney was selected this past June as the 46th honoree. Before him it was actress Diane Keaton in 2017 and composer John Williams in 2016. Prior to picking Williams, 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).
Gold Derby hosted two polls recently asking who our readers wanted to be chosen. Our poll results for a dozen male actors and directors had a tie between Tom Cruise and Washington, each with 22% of support. We also hosted a recent poll about actresses, with Sigourney Weaver defeating Glenn Close and eight others as your favorite.
Past recipients, besides Williams and Clooney, who are still with us (and therefore not eligible to be chosen again): 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 Streisxxand (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.