Friday, September 6, 2013

Angelina Jolie About to Be Youngest Hersholt Honorary Oscar Winner Ever

While the Oscar Race usually begins in the fall, when studios begin giving award-worthy movies priority spots in their release schedules, four people have already been declared winners of next year's Academy Awards, including Angelina Jolie and Steve Martin.

On Thursday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced the winners of the annual Governors Awards, Oscars that are presented for a lifetime of achievement in the cinematic arts. Actors Steve Martin and Angela Lansbury will receive lifetime achievement honors, as will costume designer Piero Tosi. And Angelina Jolie will receive the prestigious Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which AMPAS says is presented "to an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry."

In a press release from AMPAS, Jolie was cited as "an impassioned advocate for humanitarian causes, traveling widely to promote organizations and social justice efforts such as the Prevent Sexual Violence Initiative." The Academy also praised Jolie's work with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as well as her efforts to promote humanitarian causes in her film career, starring in movies such as "A Mighty Heart" and directing "In The Land of Blood and Honey." (Apparently they didn't see "Gone in Sixty Seconds.")

At 38, Jolie is the youngest person to ever receive the Jean Hersholt Award; the previous record holder was screenwriter, director, and producer George Seaton, who was 51 when he was given the prize in 1962. This marks the second time Jolie has been honored by the Academy; she won a Best Supporting Actress award in 2000 for "Girl, Interrupted."

As for funnyman Martin, this marks the first time he's been recognized by the Academy, though he's been nominated for five Golden Globe awards (remarkably, he's never won), and he received an Emmy award in 1969 as part of the writing staff of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." His credits run from manic comedies such as "The Jerk" and "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" to more thoughtful efforts such as "L.A. Story," "Roxanne," and "Parenthood." He also is one of the few authors to star in the screen adaptation of his own book when his novel "Shopgirl" was adapted for the screen in 2005.

While Angela Lansbury may be best known for playing mystery writer Jessica Fletcher on TV's "Murder She Wrote," she's also enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a film actress, making her big screen debut in 1944's "Gaslight." That performance earned Lansbury her first Oscar nomination. She'd be nominated again in 1946 (for "The Picture of Dorian Gray") and 1963 (for "The Manchurian Candidate"). Lansbury received the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003, so she probably has most of her speech prepared already. The honorary Oscar should help ease the lingering pain of Lansbury's notorious losing streak at the Emmy Awards: she's been nominated a record 18 times and is yet to bring home the gold.

And while the name Piero Tosi may not be familiar to many film buffs, devotees of Italian cinema certainly know his work; as a costume designer, he helped create the opulent look of Luchino Visconti's classics "The Leopard," "The Damned," "Death in Venice," and "The Innocent." A five-time Oscar nominee, Tosi also worked with legendary Italian directors Vittorio De Sica ("Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow"), Liliana Cavani ("The Night Porter"), and Franco Zeffirelli ("La Traviata").

While the 2014 Oscar nominees will have to wait until March 2 to find out if they're walking home with an award, Jolie, Martin, Lansbury, and Tosi not only already know they've won, they'll also get their trophies early. The Governors Awards will be presented at a special ceremony at Hollywood's Ray Dolby Ballroom on Saturday, November 16, 2013.

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