It’s an honor to be nominated for an Oscar, and Diane Warren will know this: Veteran songwriter has been recognized by the academy 13 times, breaking the record for most women nominated without an award.
But at the Governors Awards Saturday night in Los Angeles, Warren finally got the gold he’d been looking for, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out honorary Oscars that went to him, actor Michael J. Fox, and directors Euzhan. Palcy and Peter Weir.
“I waited 34 years to say this,” Warren cried, holding up his Oscar in his speech. “I want to thank the academy!”
The Governors Awards are always poignant and loud, but they are not televised: In an attempt to shorten the Oscars broadcast, the awards were removed from the show in 2009. The Oscar night also provides another fundamental purpose: It allows this year’s award contestants to bullshit as if their lives depended on it.
Even before dinner was served at the ceremony at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel, world-class guests such as Cate Blanchett, Eddie Redmayne, Jennifer Lawrence and Florence Pugh were spotted chatting with well-wishers in a ballroom filled with Oscar voters. Because it’s early in the season and any award offer can still be considered valid, the ceremony was star-studded with far more stars than would be seen in a typical Oscar broadcast: A short walk across the room caused a rush with “Everywhere All at a Time.” actors Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis, “Elvis” stars Austin Butler and Brendan Fraser are making a comeback in the industry with their transformative role in “The Whale.”
But finally, the handshakes and back pats were interrupted and the acceptance speeches began. Fox took first place: The 61-year-old “Back to the Future” star featured his wife Tracy Pollan, longtime friend Woody Harrelson, and frequent co-star Christopher Lloyd. Fox recalled being diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 29 and how this motivated him to start a foundation to raise money to research the disease.
“I saw that everything that was given to me—success, my life with Tracy, my family—prepared me for this profound opportunity and responsibility. It was a gift,” Fox says sarcastically, adding that he sometimes refers to Parkinson’s disease as “a gift that keeps on receiving.”
As the director of films such as “Dead Poets Society”, “The Witness” and “The Truman Show,” Weir spoke amiably from the stage about his early days as a member of the Australian new wave and his close relationship with stars like Robin Williams. . Now 78 years old, he hasn’t made movies for 12 years and thinks he’s retired. But fellow director Palcy, who will receive the honor on Saturday, is looking forward to returning to the set.
As the first Black woman to direct a major studio movie (the 1989 “A Dry White Season” starring Marlon Brando), Palcy turned away from Hollywood movies after multiple executives told her that Black stories were unreliable. However, the 64-year-old director noted that he has a few screenplays he is ready to shoot and it is time to do them.
“Come on guys, look at my sister standing next to me,” Palcy said, pointing to Viola Davis, the September blockbuster of Gina Prince-Bythewood’s movie “The Woman King.” As Davis smiled and flexed his biceps, Palcy gave an exciting speech: “Black is reliable! Woman is reliable! Black and woman is reliable!”
An homage to Warren had some of the funniest moments of the night: After a clip reel of Nicolas Cage’s hits “How Do I Live” from the action movie “Con Air” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from “Armageddon”, Host Cher took the stage to praise his friend’s tireless drive.
“One of my fondest memories is of him following me to an Al-Anon meeting to play me a song,” Cher said.
Warren was surprised that Cher showed up at the ceremony. “Cher doesn’t go east of 405,” Warren snapped, referring to the highway that adjoins the Tony Brentwood neighborhood.
Unlike perennial nominees who object when asked about the Oscars or pretend they have no idea when the nominations will be announced, Warren has always been refreshingly outspoken in interviews: She wants to be nominated, has researched her competition, and is constantly winning. And when I caught up with Warren at the end of the night, he grinned like the cat that caught the canary.
“I can’t believe I got an Academy Award,” she said. “I’m now Oscar winner Diane Warren! Who knew?” Rest assured, the figurine will be proud at home: “I’m not the cool person who says ‘Oh, I don’t know where you are,'” she said. “No, that’s my friend.”
After desiring the Oscar for so long, did anything about this honor surprise him?
“Heavy,” he said, admiring his new award. “I can use it as a weapon!”