In a video toast, Morgan Freeman praises Cicely Tyson as an “icon, a pioneer whose life and work tell the story of America, bravely and boldly.”
His tribute was part of AFI’s 21-day salute to the best film and TV work of 2020, with the build-up starting Feb. 5. As Freeman notes in his intro, the annual AFI Awards have a tradition of ending “as one person raises a glass to artistry, excellence and to inspiration, and today, it is my honor to raise a glass to the artistry, excellence and inspiration of Cicely Tyson.”
He adds she was “beloved onstage and on screen,” and one of her devotions was the American Film Institute. In AFI’s early years, she was a member of the board of trustees and was an early proponent of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women.
For the past three weeks, AFI devoted one day apiece to each of its film/TV honorees, showing clips from the work and offering brief interviews with the participants. The lists were announced Jan. 25.
Among those participating in the clips were Riz Ahmed, Gillian Anderson, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lee Isaac Chung, Pete Docter, Vince Gilligan, Ethan Hawke, Daniel Kaluuya, Regina King, Shaka King, Spike Lee, Darius Marder, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bob Odenkirk, Aaron Sorkin, Peter Spears, George C. Wolfe and Chloé Zhao.
To climax the three-week honors, AFI compiled a video of all the honorees. Watch the video and Freeman’s speech below.
AFI Movies of the Year:
“Da 5 Bloods,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Mank,” “Minari,” “Nomadland,” “One Night in Miami,” “Soul,” “Sound of Metal” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
AFI Television Programs of the Year:
“Better Call Saul,” “Bridgerton,” “The Crown,” “The Good Lord Bird,” “Lovecraft Country,” “The Mandalorian,” “Mrs. America,” “The Queen’s Gambit,” “Ted Lasso” and “Unorthodox.
The AFI special award went to “Hamilton.”
“For 20 years, AFI Awards has been a moment to gather artists in one room with a singular goal — to create community over competition,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO. “This year we cannot gather but we instead celebrate each honoree by creating exclusive content to be shared with a global audience through AFI Movie Club, shining a proper light on excellence.”