An A-plus list of talent turned out Saturday to watch Angelina Jolie, Steve Martin, and Angela Lansbury receive Honorary Oscars from the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Celebrities like Tom Hanks, Jake Gyllenhaal, Diane Keaton, Judd Apatow, Harrison Ford, Amy Adams, Matthew McConaughey, and George Lucas attended the ceremony in Hollywood that also paid tribute to Italian costume designer Piero Tosi, who was not in attendance.
Jolie was the recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her work with the United Nations Refugee Agency – a passion project that began in Cambodia while filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001. After a decade of service, Jolie was named a special envoy for the organization that safeguards the rights and well-being of refugees.
Actress Gena Rowlands and George Lucas were among those who took the podium to pay tribute to the actress, who was accompanied by fiancee Brad Pitt. ”How does she have time to do all this?” asked Rowlands, who starred opposite Jolie in the 1998 film Playing By Heart. ”She acts, writes and directs. Has a large family. About 20 at last count. And she has to keep that smile on Brad’s face.”
“I met Angie a long time ago,” added Lucas. “I said the one true thing you can do is have children. I didn’t think she’d take me so seriously.”
Upon receiving her Oscar, Jolie thanked Pitt (“your support and guidance make everything possible”) before talking about meeting the refugees who had a profound impact on her life. ”When I met survivors of war and rape, I knew how fortunate I was,” Jolie said. “I realized how sheltered I had been. I was determined to never be that way again. We all in this room are so fortunate. I don’t understand why I have this life and a woman across the world who has the same work ethic, same desires, and would make better films is stuck in a refugee camp. She has no voice. She worries about what her children would eat, how to keep them safe, and if they can return home. I don’t know why this is my life and that is hers. I don’t understand. But I will do my best to be in service to them. If my mother was alive she would be proud.”
The jokes came fast and furious when it was Martin’s turn to receive his Oscar for a lifetime of achievement in film. Actor Martin Short – Martin’s longtime buddy and co-star in The Three Amigos – managed to turn the ceremony into a roast as he flung barb after barb at the comedian/actor/producer/banjo player. ”It’s the highest award an actor can receive in mid-November,” Martin said. “Congratulations amigo. You are an original. Steve’s body of work will be studied long after we’re gone. Two things are timeless … the artistry of Steve Martin and community college.”
Martin teared up after accepting his statue. “To get an award for something that has seeped into your bones … this has been an amazing gift, can’t be matched, wonderful and magical. Friends … fascinating, funny, and lifelong, many of whom are here. It’s a glorious reminder of the true benefit I have received.”
Lansbury was feted by Emma Thompson, her co-star in Nanny McPhee, and Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech). “You are the living definition of range. When they are talking about the golden age of Hollywood, aren’t they just talking about you?”
Lansbury gave her Oscar a big hug.