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LOS ANGELES (AP) – Elaine May was the last to arrive and the first to leave for Friday’s Governors Awards in Los Angeles.
Other honorees Samuel L. Jackson, Liv Ullmann and Danny Glover arrived hours before, each courting at the Ray Dolby Ballroom, posing for photos and enjoying the moment in preparation for the 94th Annual Academy Awards.
After all, it was a party. They were going to get something for the first time in their long Hollywood career: an Oscar statuette.
Jackson, whose right foot was in a molded boot and his left in black velvet shoes, was sitting at the base of a huge Oscar statuette when everyone from Quentin Tarantino to Magic Johnson came to congratulate him.
But May, the 89-year-old writer, director and comedy legend, walked into the Ray Dolby Ballroom hand in hand with Bill Murray long after the patrons had finished their chicken pies, accepted her honorary Oscar with grace and wit, and then soon left. after – still associated with Murray.
Yes, this is the kind of move that could rock a livestream. But there are no TV cameras at the presentation of governors’ awards. Everyone is just delighted that they are honoring living legends who have long been waiting in the wings for the Oscars. Beautiful video montages and touching tributes from Denzel Washington for Jackson, John Lithgow for Ullmann and Alfre Woodard for Glover are the show that reminds you why you love movies and the people who make them.
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The Governor’s Award is often a stop for Oscar nominees during the campaign, but this year’s ceremony was postponed due to the pandemic. Even though the event was less stellar than usual, after the end of voting for the Oscars, it also had a positive side: the focus was still on the winners and their legacy.
Murray, of course, was there to celebrate May, having received two Oscar nominations for writing Heaven Can Wait and Primary Colors. He ignored the teleprompter’s speech and praised, “The most attractive and intelligent woman I have ever had the pleasure of working with.” »
A notable part of her work has been acting, including her comedy act with Mike Nichols and films in which she acted, acted, wrote, and wrote ghosts (e.g. “Tootsie”).
Lily Tomlin, Kenneth Lonergan, Billy Crystal and Nathan Lane praised his confidence in his tone and how his films, from A New Leaf to Mike & Nicky, were so important and so different from each other.
May, who was teased by Lonergan by saying she “gives the best honor speeches of all time,” kept her stage moment brief.
“They told me that Zelensky would introduce me tonight, but thank God they got Bill instead,” May said, referring to the Ukrainian president. She also joked about the event being held in person, saying, “I’m afraid of COVID, but I think it’s okay. »
Then it was Jackson’s turn, and Washington, the only current Oscar nominee in the room, was there to show off his friend’s 152 movie titles, his $27 billion at the box office, his 11x Nick Fury, and one time Django. . and the philanthropic efforts of him and his wife.
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“This thing will be appreciated,” said Jackson, 73, proudly holding his Oscar and wondering how a stuttering little kid from Chattanooga, Tennessee, got this far.
“I went to entertain the public the way Hollywood entertained me,” he said. “It was truly an honor and privilege for me to entertain you. »
Lithgow, while toasting the great Norwegian actor Ullmann, said people often say she thanks Swedish director Ingmar Bergman for his career. But, he says, “Bergman would never have been named one of our greatest directors without Liv Ullmann. »
They worked together on Broadway in Eugene O’Neill’s production of Anna Christie.
“I’ve seen a lot of great actors in my time, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” Lithgow said.
On stage, Ulmann, twice nominated for Best Actress for Jan Troel’s 1971 Emigrants and Bergman’s 1976 Face to Face, recalled her disastrous first audition at the Norwegian Theater acting school, in which she was cut out. in the middle of a scene from “Romeo and Juliet” – and the consolation received then from her grandmother, who nurtured her creative spirit.
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In Norway, she says, people are not supposed to brag or show off.
“That’s why I brought 20 people here from Norway so they can say, ‘It’s true that she won an Oscar,'” Ulmann said.
Glover also kept family and heritage in the spotlight by hosting the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. The 75-year-old actor, best known for his roles in Lethal Weapon and The Color Purple, has been a progressive civil rights activist for many years, serving as UN Goodwill Ambassador and Ambassador to the UN. children’s agency
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His mother grew up in Jim Crow-era Georgia, and his father served in World War II before moving to San Francisco, where they both worked in the postal service and instilled civic responsibility in their young son.
“I’m incredibly grateful for this moment,” Glover said, elaborating on her grandparents’ decision to send their children to school instead of work.
“I didn’t mean the teleprompter at all. Sometimes, as actors, we get lost without a script,” he said. “But I am proud to be a part of this space and this place. »