Oscar Actors: Rowlands, Gena–Angelina Jolie Presents Career Achievement

Angelina Jolie added star power to the 40th annual Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. awards, which otherwise honored achievements in independent and world cinema.

Jolie, whose appearance had been whispered about but not announced in advance, was on hand Saturday night at the InterContinental Hotel in Century City to present career achievement honors to acting legend Gena Rowlands.  The pair co-starred in 1998’s “Playing by Heart” and 2004’s “Taking Lives.”

Jolie followed an effusive and heartfelt speech from member Chuck Wilson, who proclaimed Rowlands the equivalent of Marlon Brando for her impact on screen acting. Wilson then called on Jolie to introduce Rowlands, and the actress and “Unbroken” director delivered some very personal remarks, noting that she had studied Rowlands’ work when she was starting out in the business.

She also nodded to Rowlands’ famed collaborations with her late husband, filmmaker and actor John Cassavetes, observing, “Every artist in their room has looked at their partner and said, ‘I wish I could have what John and Gena had.’”

Rowlands earned a standing ovation when she took the stage, but admitted to feeling under the weather. “I’ve had a bit of this cute flu for the last two weeks. I thought even yesterday, ‘I just can’t make it.’ Then I thought, ‘Flu, get ahold of yourself’ … I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”

The night’s big winner was “Boyhood” which collected prizes for best editing (Sandra Adair), actress (Patricia Arquette), director (Richard Linklater) and picture. In presenting the top prize, Variety’s Justin Chang noted that while “the moment to honor ‘Boyhood’ is now,” Linklater’s achievement is “a movie for all-time.”

Leading boy-man Ellar Coltrane was in attendance alongside the film’s honorees, and Linklater singled Coltrane out during his first acceptance speech. “The most intense moment of this whole process was the last shot,” Linklater said. “This little kid I met at 6 … we finished this journey together. We hugged for a long time, I knew I’d never have that feeling again on a film.”

Arquette revealed that she had read and was moved by the personal nature of so many of the reviews for “Boyhood,” despite making a promise to herself not to read notices all the way back in 1996, right before the release of “Flirting with Disaster.” (A “bad move” she says now, since David O. Russell’s film also was a critical fave.)

New Generation honoree “Selma” director Ava DuVernay singled out multiple critics in the room for their support of her work through the years.

Accepting for best screenplay, “Grand Budapest Hotel” scribe and helmer Wes Anderson flipped the script on critical praise, reading highlights from a particularly venomous review he received from New York critic Rex Reed. (“My favorite thing about the L.A. Film Critics is that Rex Reed is not in it,” Anderson cracked.)

“Citizenfour” director Laura Poitras acknowledged current events in her acceptance speech for best documentary, saying that the recent brutality in France shows that “the work we’re doing is under attack and that we have to respond to that with courage and bravery and defiance and humor.”

Actors Tom Hardy and JK Simmons went the jovial route in their acceptances for best actor and supporting actor respectively. Underdog awards contender Hardy, who is the only thesp on screen for the entirety of 85 minute British drama “Locke,” apologized for hogging “so much screen time.”

Kudos frontrunner Simmons thanked his publicist of three months and cracked, “This whole thing seems ill-advised to me … prestigious critics in Los Angeles here in a room with writers, directors, producers and, most importantly actors, and they’ve given us free alcohol.”

Although the evening honored the best in 2014 film, it was also an opportunity to celebrate two LAFCA members: the organization’s late co-founder Charles Champlin, who passed away in November and received a tribute from his LA Times colleague Kevin Thomas, and longtime LAFCA member Leonard Maltin, who received a special citation for his annual movie guide.

Introduced by his daughter Jessie (who lovingly threatened to embarrass her dad from the dais, and let slip he wears boxers), the elder Maltin received the room’s second standing ovation (after Rowlands).

“Words seldom fail me. But it’s hard to know what to say right now,” he began before thanking his wife and daughter for their love and support and recalling when he went up to a young Daniel Day-Lewis at a LAFCA luncheon to confirm the placement of the hyphen in his name. Maltin also wanted to make one thing clear: “I’m not retiring, the book is retiring. I’m still at it in other media.”