The academy announced that it had extended invitations to join to a record 928 new members. While this incoming class of 2018 will get to vote for the next Oscars, they didn’t cast ballots in the recent elections to the board of governors. It is those 54 academy members who will decide in August the three or four recipients of this year’s honorary Oscars.
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The selection process is very straightforward. Members of the board of governors 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 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 nine years ago, they have celebrated 34 people.
In 2009, honorary Oscars went to actress Lauren Bacall, cinematographer Gordon Willis and producer Roger Corman while studio executive John Calley received the Irving 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.
In 2013, honorary Oscars went to actors Steve Martin and Angela Lansbury as well as costume designer Piero Tosi while actress/director Angelina Jolie was feted with the Hersholt.
In 2014, actress Maureen O’Hara, animator Hayao Miyazaki and writer Jean-Claude Carrière got honorary Oscars while actor/singer Harry Belafonte got the Hersholt.
In 2015, actress Gena Rowlands and director Spike Lee received honorary Oscars while Debbie Reynolds was feted with the Hersholt.
In 2016, action star Jackie Chan, film editor Anne V. Coates, casting director Lynn Stalmaster and documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman all received honorary Oscars.
In 2017, honorary Oscars were bestowed on director Charles Burnett, cinematographer Owen Roizman, actor Donald Sutherland and documentary filmmaker Agnès Varda.