Spike Lee, Gena Rowlands, Debbie Reynolds to Receive Honorary Oscars
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have chosen writer-director Spike Lee and actress Gena Rowlands to receive Honorary Oscars and will present its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Debbie Reynolds.
Spike Lee has received two Oscar nominations in his career, an original screenplay nom for 1989’s Do the Right Thing and a documentary feature nom for 1997’s 4 Little Girls. Lee has had a tumultuous history with the Oscars and has been outspoken about their lack of racial diversity as recent as this year. His comments about the acting and directing snubs for Selma was a succinct “You know what, fuck ’em.” And who can forget Kim Basinger’s off-book shoutout to Do the Right Thing at the Oscars? So while Lee’s Honorary Oscar today might seem a bit like trying to soothe old wounds it can’t be understated that his film career and canon have provided the blueprint for so many black writers and directors that followed him and it’s well deserved.
Gena Rowlands, a two-time Oscar nominee (for 1974’s A Woman Under the Influence and 1980’s Gloria) has been in the business for over 65 years. This well-earned triumph is a fantastic career capper for a woman who helped establish, with her husband John Cassevetes, what would be the independent film movement of the 1980s.
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which is not given every year, is for an “individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”As a founding member of the Thalians, a charitable organization created by Hollywood entertainers to promote the awareness and treatment of mental illness, Debbie Reynolds’ fund-raising efforts have helped to contribute millions of dollars to the Mental Health Center at Cedars-Sinai and to UCLA’s Operation Mend, which helps military veterans. She was the group’s president from 1957 to 2011. An Oscar nominee for 1964’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Reynolds acting career had its big break in 1952’s Singin’ in the Rain and is the mother of Carrie Fisher. Their lives were immortalized on screen in Postcards from the Edge starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep.
The awards were voted on Tuesday night at a meeting of the Academy’s Board of Governors and will be presented at the 7th Governors Awards on November 14th, 2015 at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland.
In our poll, Gena Rowlands received the most votes of the actual honorees (2nd overall). It looks like Albert Finney, Doris Day and Donald Sutherland will have to wait another year.