Academy honors Michael J. Fox, Euzhan Palcy, Diane Warren and Peter Weir at Emotional Governors Awards

The Governors Awards seal it — awards season has officially returned to its pre-pandemic level of glamor and frenzy. Martinican filmmaker Euzhan Palcy, American songwriter Diane Warren and Australian director Peter Weir were on hand to receive their honorary Oscars and Michael J. Fox to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award during the event of the Academy Saturday night at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Century City.

Oscar contenders including Jennifer Lawrence, Florence Pugh, Angela Bassett, Eddie Redmayne, Michelle Williams, Cate Blanchett, Brendan Fraser, Tom Hanks, Janelle Monáe and Baz Luhrmann attended the celebration, usually a landmark event for the campaign which has been muted since COVID-19 success. (See photos from the red carpet here.)

“Wow, what a room! Who wouldn’t want to be here tonight? Academy President Janet Yang said as she opened the event.

Fox, 61, who is best known for the Back to the futureth movies and Family ties television series, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991. In 2000, he launched the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease Research, and he is the subject of a documentary, currently in production, by Oscar-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim.

“You make me shake,” joked Fox, after receiving a standing ovation as he accepted his award. “This is so cool.” Fox joked about being “famous in the 80s,” quoted Bruce Springsteen’s song “No Surrender,” and opened up about his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease at age 29. “The hardest part was struggling with the certainty of the diagnosis and the uncertainty of the situation.” he said. Fox called Parkinson’s “the gift that keeps taking.”

Woody Harrelson gave a funny, rambling and tender speech about Fox, his friend since the 1980s, mentioning everything from when they drank cobra blood together to when Fox raised over a billion dollars for research on Parkinson’s disease. “This guy was a masterclass in comedy,” Harrelson said, of the first time he saw Fox on Family ties. “He turned a frightening diagnosis into a courageous mission. Michael J. Fox never asked for the role of Parkinson’s advocate, but this is his best performance.

Woody Harrelson congratulates Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award winner Michael J. Fox onstage at the Governors Awards

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Mindy Kaling hosted the event, joking about its timing on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, “a reputedly convenient, errand-free time.” Speaking of Palcy, Kaling referenced her film A white and dry seasonor “what I called awards season”.

Host Mindy Kaling speaks as winner Michael J. Fox appears onscreen

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The Oscars honorary speeches were by turns tender and witty. Cher presented Warren with his Oscar, joking about the songwriter’s tenacity. “One of my fondest memories was when she followed me to an Al-Anon meeting to play me a song,” Cher said.

Warren, 65, the first songwriter to win an honorary Oscar, has been nominated for a competitive Oscar 13 times and has never won, for songs such as “How Do I Live,” by Air conditioning; “I do not wanna Miss a Thing” (Armageddon) and “You will be there” (wearing pearls).

When Warren accepted her award, she held her statuette up to the sky. “Mom, I finally found a man,” Warren said. “I’ve waited 34 years to say this: I would like to thank the Academy.”

Cher presents Diane Warren with an award onstage during the 13th Annual Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Governors Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on November 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

Cher presents her award to Diane Warren

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Weir, 78, a filmmaker associated with Australia’s New Wave who later made the leap to Hollywood, has been nominated for an Oscar once as a producer, four times as a director and once as a writer. His films include Gallpoli (nineteen eighty one), Dead Poets Society (1989) and The Truman Show (1998).

Weir talked about working with Robin Williams, his Dead Poets Societyy star, and his early years working in Australia. “There was no one to tell you you were wrong,” Weir said. He opened up about his years in Hollywood, saying, “You’re so welcoming to strangers like me.”

“I started reading about explorers again,” Weir added. “Making these films is like a journey. “My team always knew it wasn’t about my ego, or their ego, it was about the movie’s ego.”

Australian filmmaker Peter Weir (right) receives his award from American actor Jeff Bridges at the 13th annual Governors Awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles on November 19 2022.

Peter Weir (right) receives his award from Jeff Bridges

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Palcy, 64, born in Martinique, in the French West Indies, was the first black filmmaker to direct a film for major Hollywood studio, MGM’s A white and dry season (1989), which earned Marlon Brando his final Oscar nomination.

Viola Davis introduced Palcy, praising her career of “speaking truth to power”. “I’ll try not to use the word ‘first’ too many times,” Davis said, before ticking off Palcy’s accomplishments. “You didn’t defend your blackness, you didn’t defend your femininity,” Davis said, speaking to Palcy. “You used it as warrior fuel.”

Palcy greeted two young film students from Martinique whom she had brought to the event, telling the audience she wanted to: “Go home and tell the other kids how it was, who they met.”

She said that over the years she grew tired of being seen as a pioneer. “I was so tired of hearing praise for being the first of too many firsts, but I turned down the chance to do the movies I wanted to do,” Palcy said. “I wasn’t behind the camera doing what God put me on earth to do.”

On why she kept quiet, Palcy said she was tired of hearing from studios that Black and Female weren’t bankable: “Black is bankable. The female is bankable. Black and woman are bankable. My stories are universal.

Martinican director Euzhan Palcy (L) accepts her honorary Oscar during the 13th annual Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Governors Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles on November 19, 2022.

MEuzhan Palcy (left) accepts her honorary Oscar from Viola Davis

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At aperitif time, the stars mixed and mingle. Armageddon time Jeremy Strong walked over to his Brooklyn neighbor Paul Dano (The Fabelmans). Strong shared the story that as a child on a trip to Los Angeles, he convinced his father to let him sleep on the bleachers outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion the year Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for Chaplin. “It means a lot to me to be here,” Strong said.

Warehouse First-time Governors Awards director Todd Field was excited to meet photographer Nan Goldin, the subject of Laura Poitras’ documentary All the beauty and bloodshed and The Fabelmans Judd Hirsch.

Some colleagues were meeting for the first time, thanks to the pandemic. Pugh met her Puss in Boots: The Last Wish director Joel Crawford in person for the first time, having done all his voice work remotely in London.

The Academy held a reduced Governors Awards show in March this year, which had been postponed outside the voting window due to the Omicron surge, and the organization held no event for the Oscars 2021.

Academy honors Michael J. Fox, Euzhan Palcy, Diane Warren and Peter Weir at Emotional Governors Awards – CNET – ApparelGeek