Denzel Washington reunited with frequent director Spike Lee for the 47th annual American Film Institute life achievement award. Presenters and performers to Washington on the 2019 AFI ceremony, recorded on June 6 in Hollywood, were Mahershala Ali, Beyonce, Chadwick Boseman, Jodie Foster, Antoine Fuqua, Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Hudson, Michael B. Jordan, Issa Rae, Julia Roberts and Cicely Tyson.
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 in 2018 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).
Past recipients, besides Williams, Keaton and Clooney, who are still alive: 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) and actor/writer Steve Martin (2015).