Angelina Jolie, along with Angela Lansbury and Steve Martin, received Honorary Oscars on Saturday from the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Piero Tosi, costume designer from Italy, was also honored, although not present at the ceremony. There were, however, plenty of famous faces there, including Diane Keaton, Harrison Ford, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Amy Adams, Judd Apatow, and George Lucas.
In a packed room at the Grand Ballroom of the Hollywood and Highland Center, Angelina Jolie was introduced by the cast from her first foray into directing, In the Land of Milk and Honey, who thanked the actress for giving a voice to those who served in and survived the Balkan war.
Jolie received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to honor her work with the United Nations Refugee Agency, which named her a special envoy after she had completed ten years with the organization. As special envoy, Jolie is part of a global effort to protect the well-being and rights of refugees. The Hersholt Award is presented to an ‘individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.’ Others in the industry who have received this Oscar include Audrey Hepburn, Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, and Oprah Winfrey, among others.
Those paying tribute to the actress through speeches given at the event included George Lucas and Gena Rowlands, who shared the billing with Jolie in Playing By Heart, a 1998 movie. Lucas was charged with the presentation of the Oscar to Jolie.
Jolie’s acceptance speech began with Jolie thanking longtime partner, Brad Pitt, and then continued on to discuss the impact that her work with refugees has had on her life. Over the life of her charitable service so far, Jolie has made more than 40 missions to the field and has aided Cambodian and Syrian refugees. The actress also paid tribute to her late mother for instilling in her confidence and love, and thanked the Academy for the opportunity to live out her mother’s dreams of being an artist. Actor Jon Voigt, Jolie’s father with which she has had a notoriously rocky relationship, was in the Ballroom for the presentation, but was not mentioned in her speech. Jolie, 38, was accompanied to the event by Pitt and their 12-year-old son, Maddox.
Angelina Jolie was not the only one to receive an Oscar on Saturday, as both Steve Martin and Angela Lansbury were honored along with her. As might be expected, Steve Martin’s portion of the ceremony was filled with laughter and jokes as he received an Oscar for lifetime achievement in film. While presenting Martin with the award, his longtime friend and co-star of The Three Amigos, Martin Short, peppered Martin with jokes, comparing the timelessness of the “artistry of Steve Martin and community college.”
During his speech, Martin showed off the great comedic skills that won him the Oscar, saying, “I can’t possibly express how I excited I am tonight, because the Botox is fresh.” Martin’s eyes were filled with tears after receiving his Oscar.
For her part, Angela Lansbury was introduced by Emma Thompson, who starred with Thompson in Nanny McPhee, and Geoffrey Rush, who shared a Broadway stage in 2009 with Lansbury. Lansbury was overjoyed as she gave her new Oscar an embrace.
For Angelina Jolie to receive an honorary Oscar along with industry legends Steve Martin and Angela Lansbury is a high honor. Look for portions of the presentation ceremony to be aired during the televised Oscars ceremony on March 2, 2014.
By Jennifer Pfalz