It’s an honor to be nominated for an Oscar, and Diane Warren would know: The veteran songwriter has been recognized by the academy 13 times, setting a record as the girl who has received probably the most nominations and not using a win.
But on the Governors Awards on Saturday night in Los Angeles, Warren finally got the gold she has long sought, because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out honorary Oscars that went to her, the actor Michael J. Fox and the administrators Euzhan Palcy and Peter Weir.
“I’ve waited 34 years to say this,” Warren cried in her speech, hoisting her Oscar aloft. “I’d wish to thank the academy!”
The Governors Awards are at all times moving and raucous, but they continue to be untelevised: In a bid to shorten the Oscar broadcast, the honors were cleaved from the show in 2009. Meant to honor artists who’ve made a vital contribution to cinema without necessarily having won an Oscar, the night also provides one other essential purpose: It allows this 12 months’s award contenders to schmooze like their lives relied on it.
Even before dinner was served on the ceremony held on the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel, A-list guests like Cate Blanchett, Eddie Redmayne, Jennifer Lawrence and Florence Pugh could possibly be spotted chatting with well-wishers in a ballroom chock-full of Oscar voters. Because it’s early within the season and any awards bid can still be considered viable, the ceremony was filled with much more stars than are seen at a typical Oscar broadcast: A temporary walk through the room produced run-ins with “All the things All over the place All at Once” actors Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis, “Elvis” star Austin Butler, and Brendan Fraser, mounting an industry comeback along with his transformative role in “The Whale.”
But eventually the hand shakes and back pats were placed on pause and the acceptance speeches began. Fox was first up: The 61-year-old “Back to the Future” star was honored with the academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which he accepted in front of a crowd that included his wife, Tracy Pollan, longtime friend Woody Harrelson, and frequent co-star Christopher Lloyd. Fox recalled receiving a Parkinson’s diagnosis at age 29 and the way it motivated him to begin a foundation that will raise money to research the disease.
“It struck me that every thing I’ve been given — success, my life with Tracy, my family — had prepared me for this profound opportunity and responsibility. It was a present,” Fox said, adding wryly that he sometimes calls Parkinson’s “the gift that keeps on taking.”
Weir, the director of movies like “Dead Poets Society,” “Witness,” and “The Truman Show,” spoke amiably from the stage about his early days as a member of the Australian recent wave and his close relationship with stars like Robin Williams. Now 78, he has not made a movie in 12 years and considers himself retired. But Palcy, the opposite director to receive an honorary award on Saturday, is itching to get back on set.
The primary Black woman to direct a serious studio film (1989’s “A Dry White Season,” starring Marlon Brando), Palcy stepped away from Hollywood fare after too many executives told her that Black stories simply weren’t bankable. However the 64-year-old director noted that she has several scripts she is able to shoot, and the time is now right to make them.
“Come on, guys, have a look at my sister standing by me,” Palcy said, gesturing to the presenter Viola Davis, whose film “The Woman King,” directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, topped the box office in September. As Davis smiled and flexed a bicep, Palcy delivered a rousing speech: “Black is bankable! Female is bankable! Black and feminine is bankable!”
The tribute to Warren offered the night’s funniest moments: After a clip reel that included her hits like “How Do I Live” from the Nicolas Cage motion flick “Con Air” and “I Don’t Need to Miss a Thing” from “Armageddon,” the presenter Cher took the stage to praise her friend’s indefatigable drive.
“One among my fondest memories is when she followed me into an Al-Anon meeting to play me a song,” Cher said.
Warren was surprised that Cher had shown as much as the ceremony in any respect. “Cher doesn’t go east of the 405,” Warren cracked, referring to the freeway that adjoins tony Brentwood neighborhood.
Unlike perennial contenders who demur when asked in regards to the Oscars or pretend that they had no idea when the nominations could be announced, Warren has at all times been refreshingly plain-spoken in interviews: She desires to be nominated, has researched her competition and is continually gunning for a win. And once I caught up with Warren at the top of the night, she grinned just like the cat who had caught the canary.
“I can’t imagine I actually have an Academy Award,” she said. “I’m now Oscar winner Diane Warren! Who knew?” Rest assured, the statuette will receive pride of place at her house: “I’m not the cool one who goes, ‘Oh, I don’t know where it’s,’” she said. “No, that is my buddy.”
After desiring the Oscar for thus long, did anything about the respect surprise her?
“It’s heavy,” she said, admiring her recent trophy. “I can use it as a weapon!”