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The recipients of this year’s Honorary Oscars are a worldwide martial arts superstar, an Oscar-winning film editor, one of the most prolific casting directors in film history and one of the most undersung working directors of documentary features.
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted Tuesday night (August 30) to present Honorary Awards to actor Jackie Chan, film editor Anne V. Coates, casting director Lynn Stalmaster and documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman. The four Oscar® statuettes will be presented at the Academy’s 8th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 12, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center®.
“The Honorary Award was created for artists like Jackie Chan, Anne Coates, Lynn Stalmaster and Frederick Wiseman – true pioneers and legends in their crafts,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “The Board is proud to honor their extraordinary achievements, and we look forward to celebrating with them at the Governors Awards in November.”
After making his motion picture debut at the age of eight, Chan brought his childhood training with the Peking Opera to a distinctive international career. He starred in – and sometimes wrote, directed and produced – more than 30 martial arts features in his native Hong Kong, charming audiences with his dazzling athleticism, inventive stunt work and boundless charisma. Since “Rumble in the Bronx” in 1996, he has gone on to enormous worldwide success with the “Rush Hour” movies, “Shanghai Noon,” “Shanghai Knights,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” “The Karate Kid” and the “Kung Fu Panda” series of animated films.
A native of Reigate, England, Coates worked her way up to lead editor on a handful of features before collaborating with David Lean on “Lawrence of Arabia” and winning her first Oscar. In her more than 60 years as a film editor, she has worked side by side with many leading directors on an impressive range of films, including Sidney Lumet (“Murder on the Orient Express”), Richard Attenborough (“Chaplin”) and Steven Soderbergh (“Erin Brockovich”). She also earned four additional Oscar nominations, for “Becket,” “The Elephant Man,” “In the Line of Fire” and “Out of Sight.”
Stalmaster, a one-time stage and screen actor from Omaha, Nebraska, began working in casting in the mid-1950s. Over the next five decades, he applied his talents to more than 200 feature films, including such classics as “Inherit the Wind,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “The Graduate,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Harold and Maude,” “Deliverance,” “Coming Home,” “Tootsie” and “The Right Stuff.” He has enjoyed multiple collaborations with directors Stanley Kramer, Robert Wise, Hal Ashby, Norman Jewison and Sydney Pollack, and has been instrumental in the careers of such celebrated actors as Jon Voight, Richard Dreyfuss, Scott Wilson, Jill Clayburgh, Christopher Reeve and John Travolta.
From his home base in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Wiseman has made one film almost every year since 1967, illuminating lives in the context of social, cultural and government institutions. He created a sensation with his first documentary feature, “Titicut Follies,” which went behind the scenes at Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane. The film established an unobtrusive, observational storytelling style that has strongly identified his work, from the gritty (“Law and Order,” “Public Housing,” “Domestic Violence”) to the uplifting (“La Danse – The Paris Opera Ballet,” “National Gallery,” “In Jackson Heights”).
The Honorary Award, an Oscar statuette, is given “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”
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HONORARY AWARDS ARE GIVEN FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENTS, EXCEPTIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES, AND OUTSTANDING SERVICE TO THE ACADEMY.
The Academy’s Honorary Award is given at the discretion of the Board of Governors and not necessarily awarded every year. The Honorary Award may or may not be an Oscar statuette; when it is, the Award is presented as part of the Academy Awards ceremony. This is the Honorary Award most familiar to the public. It is sometimes given to honor a filmmaker for whom there is no annual Academy Award category: choreographer Michael Kidd in 1996, for instance, or animator Chuck Jones in 1995. It can be also given to an organization, such as the National Film Board of Canada in 1988, or even a company, such as Eastman Kodak, which received it that same year.
The Honorary Award is not called a lifetime achievement award by the Academy, but it is often given for a life’s work in filmmaking such as Polish director Andzrej Wajda in 1999 and Elia Kazan the previous year.
The Honorary Award can be given for outstanding service to the Academy, although the last time this happened was in 1979 when an Oscar statuette was presented to Academy Governor Hal Elias, who had served more than a quarter-century on the Board of Governors.
The Honorary Award can also take the form of a life membership in the Academy, a scroll, a medal, a certificate or any other design chosen by the Board of Governors. The John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation, given for “outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy,” is considered an Honorary Award. It is usually given at the annual presentation of Scientific and Technical Awards, a dinner ceremony separate from the annual Oscar telecast.
The only life membership to be conferred as an Honorary Award was given to Bob Hope in 1944 “for his many services to the Academy.” Hope received four Honorary Awards. In addition to his life membership, he received a special silver plaque in 1940 “in recognition of his unselfish service to the Motion Picture Industry,” a gold medal in 1965 for “unique and distinguished service to our industry and the Academy” and an Oscar statuette in 1952 “for his contribution to the laughter of the world, his service to the motion picture industry, and his devotion to the American premise.” And, while it wasn’t an Honorary Award, the Bob Hope Lobby of the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study (home of the Margaret Herrick Library) was dedicated to Hope in 1990 when he continued to serve the Academy and the industry with a contribution of $1 million to the Center’s Endowment Fund.
The most unusual Honorary Awards went to Edgar Bergen in 1937 and Walt Disney the following year. Bergen’s, presented “for his outstanding comedy creation, ‘Charlie McCarthy,’” was a wooden Oscar statuette with a movable mouth. Disney’s Honorary (his second) was “for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, recognized as a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field for the motion picture cartoon.” It was a standard Oscar statuette and seven miniature statuettes on a stepped base.
ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 7,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles.