Honorary Oscars 2019 - A long overdue recognition

Harriet Metcalfe comments on the honorary Oscars awarded to the iconic Hollywood personalities.

Harriet Metcalfe
11th November 2019
Wes Studi in Hell on Wheels (2011) IMDB
If the words “honorary Oscars” send your head spinning (it can’t be February already can it?), then fear not, you’re in good company. Unlike the ‘usual’ ceremony, the honorary Oscars are awarded for “lifetime achievements, exceptional contributions to the motion picture arts and sciences, and outstanding service to the Academy”, and aren’t necessarily awarded every year. The recipients of the 2019 Honorary Oscars, however, are certainly long overdue for this recognition.

Wes Studi

Wes Studi in Hell on Wheels (2011) IMDB

Cherokee American actor and film producer Wes Studi in mainly known for the 1992 The Last of the Mohicans and 2009’s ground-breaking Avatar, among plenty of other iconic names. This is his first Oscar, and, to quote the man himself “it’s about time”. The honorary award also makes him the first Native indigenous person to win an Academy Award, earning a well-deserved standing ovation from many in attendance, and made his closing remarks even more powerful. “I’m proud to have served there for 12 months with Alpha Company of the 39th Infantry. Anyone else? As a veteran, I am always appreciative when filmmakers bring to the screen stories of those who have served.” All said in Cherokee, just before he left the stage. A short montage paid “tribute to these powerful films that shine a great spotlight on those who have fought for freedom around the world” and Studi, after so many years, finally walked off-stage with his first Oscar.

Lina Wertmuller

Lina Wertmüller and Giancarlo Giannini in Seven Beauties (1975)

After a kerfuffle with a microphone that was too high for her, and the Italian director not realising that her Italian would need to be translated for the predominately English-speaking audience, began Lina Wertmuller’s acceptance speech, which has turned into, quite possibly, one of my favourite things. Rather than acknowledge that she was the first female director in the history of the Academy to be nominated for best director in 1977 (Seven Beauties), she’s more shocked at the fact Isabella Rossellini is wearing a bright purple dress: “She pretends not to see that I’m wearing purple” Rossellini translates, “Next time, I’m coming naked!” She even notes the fact that “Oscar” is such a male name: “Next time, please, not only the Oscar, but a female Oscar… Women in the room, please scream, we want ‘Anna’, a female Oscar!” I 100% agree with you, Lina. Whilst John G. Avildsen took best director back in 1977 for Rocky, Lina has obviously followed her own advice that: “In this world you need a lot of patience, and passion. Passion and patience”, and that she had patience enough to wait until 2019 to win an award that her daughter had to carry off-stage for her because it was too heavy? Legendary.

David Lynch

David Lynch and Laura Dern in Twin Peaks (2017)

And last, but by no means least, came David Lynch. If you’ve even heard of Lynch, you’ll probably know that you’ll rarely get what you expect from the man. And following a 13 minute and an 8-minute speech, came his 56 second masterpiece:“To the academy of motion picture arts and sciences, thank you for this honour. And to all the people who helped me along the road. Congratulations to the other honourees tonight, and everyone have a great night. *Looks down at his Oscar* You have a very interesting face. Goodnight”. Unlike his films and books, real-life David Lynch clearly doesn’t beat around the bush. Joined on stage by Laura Dern and Kyle MacLachlan, whom he’s collaborated with multiple times, the Academy’s decision to finally acknowledge this mastermind behind behind absurd yet stunning films like Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive was, as Agent Cooper would say, a damn fine decision. Almost as good as a slice of cherry pie and a black coffee? Definitely, Diane.

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AUTHOR: Harriet Metcalfe
English Literature BA student. Loves film, TV, books and coffee. Thinks "Thor: The Dark World" gets too much hate. Twitter: @hattiemetcalfe

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