James Earl Jones Oscar
November 13, 2011 by staff
James Earl Jones Oscar, It was a night devoted to James Earl Jones, Dick Smith and Oprah Winfrey, but the Academy couldn’t avoid at least one reference to Brett Ratner at the beginning of Saturday’s Governors Awards.
“Good evening,” said the first speaker to take the stage of the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland. “I’m Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.”
A pause. “How was your week?”
The audience laughed, knowing that Sherak’s week had included Ratner’s resignation, host Eddie Murphy’s subsequent departure and the quick hirings of producer Brian Grazer and host Billy Crystal.
But after a chuckle at Sherak’s joke – which he’d also used the previous night, at an Academy screening of “The Great White Hope” – the 600 assembled Academy members and guests moved on, relieved by the alacrity with which AMPAS had regained its footing and ready to celebrate the three latest recipients of the Academy’s honorary awards.
Also read: The Ratner Mess: It’s the End of an Oscar Era, But at What Cost?
This was the third year the Academy handed out the awards in a separate ceremony, rather than putting them in the Oscar show. The move enabled the AMPAS board of governors to vote more awards: four in 2009 and 2010 and three this year, as opposed to a maximum of two when the honorary awards were part of the main show.
It also allows for longer, more expansive tributes, with more speeches and longer film clips.
The ceremony differed from the two that preceded it in a few ways — and not just the fact that Sherak came onstage dressed as Darth Vader in honor of Jones, or that a bevy of stormtroopers swept the ballroom before his entrance.
Last year and the year before, the Academy partitioned off one-third of the ballroom, and used that smaller portion for an hour of ccktails before the main room was opened for dinner and the awards.This year, though, they filled the entire ballroom with tables, forcing ccktail-hour mingling to take place awkwardly in the aisles rather than in a dedicated, open setting.
And since participants in that mingling included actors Glenn Close, Gary Oldman, Michael Fassbender, Woody Harrelson, Viola Davis, Ellen Barkin, Patton Oswalt, Tilda Swinton, Evan Rachel Wood, Shailene Woodley and Jean Dujardin, and directors Steve McQueen, Michel Hazanavicius, Julie Taymor, Drake Doremus and Sean Durkin, the bottleneck-heavy pre-show setup put a crimp in the meeting and greeting that could have been done by some serious Oscar contenders.
Oldman, in the running for his first-ever Oscar nomination for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” was typical of the contenders who appeared at the event: casual, pleased to be included but more interested in chatting with Fassbender and McQueen than in aggressively working the room.
“I’ve been getting lots of invitations lately,” he said agreeably. “I seem to be in this orbit now.”
Though the ceremony took up more space, the crowd wasn’t appreciably bigger than the 550 who attended in 2009 and 2010.
For the third consecutive year, though, the Governors Awards was a warm, collegial and emotional evening, with the tribute to the least-famous winner – makeup artist Smith – in particular showing why it’s a good idea to present the Governors Awards on their own show rather than trying to fit them into the already-long Oscar telecast.
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