David Lynch, Wes Studi and Lina Wertmüller will receive honorary Oscars, and Geena Davis will be honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Monday. The four Oscar statuettes will be presented at the Academy’s 11th annual Governors Awards on Oct. 27, and the selections are part of a wider shift by the organization behind the film prizes to recognize women and members of underrepresented groups.
“These Governors Awards given by the Academy each year recognize individuals who have devoted themselves to a lifetime of artistic accomplishment and brought outstanding contributions to our industry, and beyond,” Academy president John Bailey said. “It is with great pleasure that we announce this year’s recipients.”
Davis, an Oscar winner for “The Accidental Tourist” and the star of “Thelma & Louise,” will be recognized for her advocacy of gender equality in media. David is the founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a nonprofit that pushes companies to create a wider variety of female characters in programming and movies targeting children.
Studi is a Cherokee-American actor whose credits include “Dances With Wolves,” “The Last of the Mohicans” and “Heat.” In a press release announcing Studi’s selection, the Academy lauded him for “portraying strong Native American characters with poignancy and authenticity,” and highlighted his involvement with Native American politics and activism.
Wertmüller made history in 1976 when she became the first woman to receive an Oscar nomination for directing with “Seven Beauties.” To this day, only five women have been nominated to the prize. Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) is the only female director to win the award. Wertmüller’s other credits include “The Seduction of Mimi,” “Love and Anarchy” and “Swept Away.”
Lynch is a pioneering filmmaker, who has helped introduce avant-garde elements into popular cinema with the likes of “Blue Velvet,” “Mulholland Drive” and “Wild at Heart.” He’s received three directing Oscar nominations for “Mulholland Drive,” “Blue Velvet” and “The Elephant Man,” as well as an adapted screenplay for his work on “The Elephant Man.” He is also the creator of the ground-breaking television series “Twin Peaks.”
The selections, highlighting artists who have broken barriers for women and performers of color, appear to be part of a larger effort by the Academy to be more inclusive. Following uproar over the lack of African-American nominees in 2015 and 2016, which culminated in 2016’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the Academy announced it would diversify its ranks. As part of that effort, it pledged to double the number of women and diverse members by 2020.
Lifetime achievement Oscars and humanitarian prizes were once included in the awards broadcast. That changed in 2009, when the Academy instead opted to hand out those statues at a separate ceremony, one that has now become an essential stop for filmmakers and performers on the awards-season circuit. Last year, the Academy honored actress Cicely Tyson, composer Lalo Schifrin and publicist Marvin Levy with lifetime achievement prizes. It didn’t give a humanitarian prize, but it did honor Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for their work as producers.