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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Governors Awards will return in 2022, following a year off due to the pandemic, with an exciting and diverse roster of legendary honorees.
Actor Samuel L. Jackson, actress-writer-director Elaine May and actress Liv Ullmann will be presented with honorary Oscars, and actor Danny Glover will be presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, at the 12th Governors Awards ceremony on Jan. 15, 2022, the Academy announced Thursday.
The honorary Oscar is given “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.” The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, also an Oscar statuette, is given “to an individual in the motion picture arts and sciences whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”
These special awards were, as always, chosen by the board of governors of the Academy.
“We are thrilled to present this year’s Governors Awards to four honorees who have had a profound impact on both film and society,” Academy president David Rubin said in a statement. “Sam Jackson is a cultural icon whose dynamic work has resonated across genres and generations and audiences worldwide, while Elaine May’s bold, uncompromising approach to filmmaking, as a writer, director and actress, reverberates as loudly as ever with movie lovers. Liv Ullmann’s bravery and emotional transparency has gifted audiences with deeply affecting screen portrayals, and Danny Glover’s decades-long advocacy for justice and human rights reflects his dedication to recognizing our shared humanity on and off the screen.”
None of the four honorees has ever won an Oscar in competition.
Jackson, a best supporting actor Oscar nominee for Pulp Fiction, is best known for his many collaborations with Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino, as well as his involvement with countless blockbusters. By some counts, films of which he has been a part have collectively grossed more than the work of any other actor. [Check out my 2015 podcast with Jackson.]
May, a best adapted screenplay Oscar nominee for Heaven Can Wait and Primary Colors, began her career as an improvisational comedian, partnering with the late Mike Nichols. She later transitioned into film as a multi-hyphenate, with other notable credits including A New Leaf, Mikey and Nicky, The Heartbreak Kid and, yes, Ishtar.
Ullmann, a best actress Oscar nominee for The Emigrants and Face to Face, is a Norwegian actress best known for her many collaborations with Ingmar Bergman including Persona, Cries and Whispers and Autumn Sonata. She has more recently worked as a director. [Check out my 2014 video interview with Ullmann.]
Glover has never been nominated for an Oscar, despite giving memorable big screen performances in a wide-range of notable films including The Color Purple, To Sleep with Anger, The Royal Tenenbaums, Dreamgirls, Angels in the Outfield and, of course, the Lethal Weapon series. A lifelong activist, he has fought for access to quality health care and education in America and abroad, has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program and is currently a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
41 individuals or organizations have been awarded the Hersholt. Glover will be the fifth recipient of color, following in the footsteps of Quincy Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Harry Belafonte and Tyler Perry.
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