Oscar 2013: Honorary Award to Angelina Jolie

The Academy’s fifth annual Governors Awards on November 16, at Hollywood & Highland, had many touching moments.

After showing a reel of Angelina Jolie’s global philanthropy, the actress took to the stage to thank her presenters (Bosnian and Serbian actors from her “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” Gena Rowlands and George Lucas), and her family. And she paid special tribute to her mother, who told her she must live “a life of use to others.”

Jolie reminded the audience that she is lucky to have basics such as food, shelter and love, as well as a way to use her talents, while many equally talented people are refugees or oppressed people with none of those things.  “We are all, every one of us in this room, so fortunate,” she said. It was a remarkable moment, underlining her great work for the UN and multiple causes (ranging from refugees to gay rights to children’s and women’s health issues).

The final award of the evening was to Angela Lansbury, who’s been working since she made her film debut at age 17 in the 1944. Lansbury, looking bouncy and classy, seemed genuinely thrilled at the Oscar, after three nominations and a career that was often frustrating, though present Geoffrey Rush correctly said, after clips of her work “Are you the living definition of ‘range’? When they talk about the golden age of Hollywood, are they really talking about you?” Emma Thompson also spoke and the award was presented by Robert Osborne.

The actress thanked some of the greats she’d worked with in her career, including Ingrid Bergman, Katharine Hepburn, Orson Welles, Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra, James Earl Jones, George Cukor and John Frankenheimer.

Claudia Cardinale accepted the award for Piero Tosi, the brilliant costume designer, who was not able to attend the ceremony. But a reel including moments from films for which he earned five Oscar nominations (including “The Leopard” and “Death in Venice”) brought a few gasps for their beauty while fellow designers, including Milena Canonero, Jeffrey Kurland and Ann Roth, saluted him as the greatest of the great.

Steve Martin was feted by his high school pal Bill Taylor, Martin Short and Tom Hanks, with a reel showing his work as a standup, actor, writer and musician among other talents.  Short deadpanned that the performer was well deserving “of the highest honor an actor can receive in mid-November.”