2010 Honorary Oscars Will Go to Coppola, Wallach and Godard
by Ethan Anderton
August 25, 2010
Next year's Oscar ceremony is about six months away, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences still determines the recipients of their honorary awards way ahead of the event. Today the New York Times' Arts Beat revealed Francis Ford Coppola will be receiving the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, an award given to "a creative producer whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production." Meanwhile, other honorary Oscars will also be given to French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless), actor Eli Wallach (The Good, the Bad, the Ugly) and film preservationist Kevin Brownlow.
There's no argument here about Coppola deserving the Thalberg award for founding American Zoetrope to being the man responsible for George Lucas' career (for better or worse) by producing his early films THX 1138 and American Graffiti. Coppola has also produced many of his own films including The Godfather Part II & Part III (but he did not produce the original), Apocalypse Now and The Conversation. He's also helped his filmmaker daughter Sofia Coppola by producing her films like Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette and The Virgin Suicides. The man is a legend not only as a producer, but as a writer/director with several Oscar nominations. Surely his friends like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas will be on hand to honor him.
Meanwhile, the revolutionary Jean-Luc Godard may have never received an Oscar before today, but his immense achievements in cinema speak for themselves. Godard is considered one of the most prominent filmmakers of the New Wave movement in cinema which challenged the conventions and traditions of Hollywood cinema. His most celebrated period as a filmmaker is roughly from his first feature, Breathless (1960), through to Week End (1967) where he employed innovative filmmaking techniques like jump cuts and long tracking shots. It's a big shame that he hasn't been properly honored by the Academy until now.
Considering The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as one of the most iconic films in cinema's history, that would be reason enough to give Eli Wallach an honorary Oscar (he's never received one ever before), but he's had a long and on-going career as a phenomenal actor. Aside from his work in that classic western, Wallach has also delivered great performances in films like Ace High and The Hoax recently. At the ripe age of 94 years-old, Wallach still continues to act with recent smaller roles in Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer and Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. He is a legend.
Finally, a name that you likely haven't heard of before, Kevin Brownlow has been a leading figure in the preservation of silent film. Brownlow is well known for writing The Parade's Gone By, a reflection on silent films, as well as restoration on films like Abel Gance's Napoleon. It really is quite fantastic that a name like this is being given such prominence since the only major talk about preservation has come to light because of Martin Scorsese's recent participation in the necessary preservation of the culture and history of cinema.
It's definitely a little too far to plan ahead, but the 83rd Academy Awards will take place on February 27th, 2011 (so mark that date in your calendars if you haven't already). I'm looking forward to seeing these aforementioned pioneers of cinema honored and all the shining achievements in film from the year 2010.