The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted last night to present the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to producer-director Francis Ford Coppola and Honorary Awards to historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow, director Jean-Luc Godard and actor Eli Wallach. All four awards will be presented at the Academy's 2nd Annual Governors Awards dinner on Saturday, November 13, at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center.
"Each of these honorees has touched movie audiences worldwide and influenced the motion picture industry through their work," said Academy President Tom Sherak. "It will be an honor to celebrate their extraordinary achievements and contributions at the Governors Awards."
Kevin Brownlow is widely regarded as the preeminent historian of the silent film era as well as a preservationist. Among his many silent film restoration projects are Abel Gance's 1927 epic Napoleon, Rex Ingram's The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) and The Thief of Bagdad (1924), starring Douglas Fairbanks. Kevin Brownlow has authored, among others, The Parade's Gone By; The War, the West, and the Wilderness; Hollywood: The Pioneers; Behind the Mask of Innocence; David Lean; and Mary Pickford Rediscovered. His documentaries include Hollywood, Unknown Chaplin: The Master at Work, Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow, Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius and D.W. Griffith: Father of Film, all with David Gill; Kevin Brownlow also directed Cecil B. DeMille: American Epic and "Garbo," the latter with Christopher Bird.
Francis Ford Coppola began his film career in the early 1960s making low-budget films with 2009 Honorary Award recipient Roger Corman. By the end of the 1970s he had won five Oscars: Best Picture (The Godfather: Part II); Directing (The Godfather: Part II) and Writing (Patton, The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II). Among his numerous producing credits are American Graffiti, Gardens of Stone, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Jack and Tetro. In 1969 he established American Zoetrope, an independent film studio that helped launch the careers of George Lucas and Carroll Ballard, and has since produced more than 30 films, including The Black Stallion, The Outsiders, Lost In Translation and The Good Shepherd.
A key figure in the French New Wave movement, Jean-Luc Godard started out writing about cinema before beginning to make his own short films. His influential first feature, "Breathless" (1960), impressed audiences and filmmakers alike with its jazzy take on the American crime film. For fifty years, Godard has continued to write and direct challenging, and sometimes controversial, films that have established his reputation as one of the seminal modernists in the history of cinema. His more than 70 features include Contempt, Alphaville, Weekend and King Lear. Jean-Luc Godard is also credited with having influenced numerous contemporary directors, including Bernardo Bertolucci, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino.
Born in Brooklyn in 1915, Eli Wallach made his debut film appearance in Elia Kazan's 1956 feature Baby Doll, starring alongside Karl Malden and Carroll Baker. Since then he has starred in more than 50 features including The Magnificent Seven, The Misfits, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, The Godfather: Part III and The Holiday. Throughout his lengthy career, Wallach has worked with such directors and actors as Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Douglas, Clint Eastwood, John Ford, Clark Gable, John Huston, Sergio Leone, Marilyn Monroe, Al Pacino, Gregory Peck and Kate Winslet. Wallach will next be seen in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
The Honorary Award, an Oscar statuette, is given to an individual for "extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy."
The Thalberg Award, a bust of the motion picture executive, is given to "a creative producer whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production."
The Governors Awards presentation will be produced for the Academy by producer Sidney Ganis with Don Mischer Productions.