The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors will present Honorary Awards to actor Jackie Chan, film editor Anne V. Coates, casting director Lynn Stalmaster, and documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman.
“The Honorary Award was created for artists like Jackie Chan, Anne Coates, Lynn Stalmaster, and Frederick Wiseman – true pioneers and legends in their crafts,” Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement. “The board is proud to honor their extraordinary achievements, and we look forward to celebrating with them at the Governors Awards in November.”
The Oscars will be presented at the Academy’s eighth annual Governors Awards on Nov. 12, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland.
The selection of Hong Kong’s Chan and the U.K.-born Coates puts an international flavor on the selections. The film industry is often accused of ageism, but the Governors Awards tends to recognize individuals with lengthy careers, who are generally over the age of 60. Coates is 90, Stalmaster is 87, and Wiseman 86. Chan is the youngster of the group, at 62.
Of the four, Coates is the only one who’s ever been nominated for an Oscar, with her win for the 1962 “Lawrence of Arabia” plus four other noms. She is still working, as one of the editors of “50 Shades of Grey” last year. Wiseman’s latest doc is 2015’s “In Jackson Heights” and Chan works non-stop. The award to Stalmaster is significant because the Academy created a membership branch for casting directors only a few years ago, but so far there is no competitive trophy for the job, which is so important to filmmaking.
This year’s selection is less performer-heavy — last year’s trio of Spike Lee, Debbie Reynolds, and Gena Rowlands likely had more name recognition, likewise past winners like Angelina Jolie and Oprah Winfrey. When the Academy created the Governors Awards as a separate event, they embraced the lack of pressure to offer people who would be familiar to TV viewers. The Academy has resisted suggestions that the Governors Awards be televised, though the star power of the guests always ensures hefty media coverage.
The Academy can salute up to four people each year: one or two honorary Oscars, and one apiece for the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, which goes to a producer for their body of work. It’s generally been four honorees, except for 2011 and last year, when there were three.
This year, there is no Thalberg or Hersholt award, but instead four honorary prizes. The quartet chosen follows the Academy mandate to recognize long and extraordinary careers — and, as a bonus, to offer diversity.
Chan — the second highest-paid actor in the world, according to Forbes — has starred in, in addition to writing, directing, and producing, more than 30 martial arts movies in Hong Kong. His “Rush Hour” films, “Shanghai Noon,” “Shanghai Knights,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” “The Karate Kid,” and the hit animated franchise “Kung Fu Panda” also found worldwide audiences.
Coates, whose career spans six decades, won her first Oscar for “Lawrence of Arabia.” She also nabbed Academy Award nominations for “Becket,” “The Elephant Man,” “In the Line of Fire,” and “Out of Sight.” In addition to David Lean, she’s also worked with Sidney Lumet (“Murder on the Orient Express”), Richard Attenborough (“Chaplin”), and Steven Soderbergh (“Erin Brockovich”).
Stalmaster began working in casting in the mid-1950s. His 200-plus films include “The Graduate,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Harold and Maude,” “Deliverance,” “Tootsie,” and “The Right Stuff.” He helped launch the careers of such actors as Jon Voight, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Reeve, and John Travolta.
The groundbreaking documentarian Wiseman has made one film almost every year since 1967. His first documentary, “Titicut Follies,” went behind the scenes at Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane. His other work includes “Law and Order,” “Domestic Violence,” “National Gallery,” “High School” and “Hospital.”
Every year, AMPAS members, industry workers, and movie fans begin listing people deserving of the honor. There are always too many names to fit into the four slots, but artists frequently mentioned as deserving over the years range from Doris Day to James Ivory to Jeanne Moreau.
The Academy created the Governors Awards as a separate event in 2009, after decades of including them on the Oscarcast. Some traditionalists resisted the idea. But proponents argued that an untelevised event would allow more honorees each year (unaffected by broadcast time constraints), there would be no pressure to select familiar faces, and that a separate ceremony would allow more than two minutes to honor a lifetime of work.
The experiment was a big success, and by the 2010 ceremony, it was a hot ticket in Hollywood. It also became a don’t-miss stop for Academy Award campaigners, since the room was literally filled with Oscar voters.
Academy rules say the Governors Award cannot be voted posthumously, and no current governor is eligible. There is no rule about previous winners. Hayao Miyazaki received an honorary Oscar, two years ago, even though he’d won competitively.
Here are all the recipients in the past six years:
2009: Lauren Bacall, John Calley, Roger Corman, Gordon Willis
2010: Jean-Luc Godard, Kevin Brownlow, Francis Ford Coppola, Eli Wallach
2011: James Earl Jones, Dick Smith, Oprah Winfrey
2012: Jeffrey Katzenberg, Hal Needham, D.A. Pennebaker, George Stevens Jr.
2013: Angelina Jolie, Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin, Piero Tosi
2014: Harry Belafonte, Jean-Claude Carrière, Maureen O’Hara, Hayao Miyazaki