The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Wednesday that it would present “The Godfather” director-producer Francis Ford Coppola with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award and give honorary Oscars to British film historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow, French “New Wave” director Jean-Luc Godard, who made his feature directorial debut 50 years ago with the seminal “Breathless,” and veteran actor Eli Wallach, who has appeared in such films as “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”
The four awards will be handed out at the academy’s second annual Governors Awards dinner Nov. 13 at the Grand Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland Center.
Until last year, these awards were presented during the Oscar ceremony. But in 2009 the board decided to give the honorees their own nontelevised celebratory dinner.
“Each of these honorees has touched movie audiences worldwide and influenced the motion picture industry through their work,” academy president Tom Sherak said in a statement. “It will be an honor to celebrate their extraordinary achievements.”
The Thalberg Award is named after the famed MGM producer who died in 1936 at the age of 37. It is given to “a creative producer whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production.” Previous winners include Walt Disney, David O. Selznick, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Walter Mirisch and John Calley.
Coppola, 71, began his film career four decades ago working for 2009 honoree Roger Corman and has won five Academy Awards: as producer, writer and director of “The Godfather Part II,” and as the writer on “Patton” and “The Godfather.” His other directing credits include “Apocalypse Now” and “The Conversation.” In 1969, Coppola established the independent film studio American Zoetrope and has produced some 30 films, including “Lost in Translation” and “The Black Stallion.”
The honorary Oscar is given to an individual for “extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, and for outstanding service to the academy.”
Godard, 79, along with directors such as François Truffaut and Claude Chabrol, turned French cinema on its ear 50 years ago with their “New Wave” filmmaking, which rejected the rules of classic studio-bound cinema while experimenting with editing, visual style and narrative. He has directed about 70 films, including “Contempt,” “Weekend” and “Alphaville,” and numerous directors have credited his influence on their work, including Martin Scorsese, Bernardo Bertolucci, Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino.
Wallach, 94, carved a career for himself on Broadway before making his film debut in Elia Kazan’s 1956 drama “Baby Doll.” He has starred in about 50 motion pictures — several with his wife, Anne Jackson — including “The Misfits,” “The Godfather Part III” and “The Holiday.” He continues to work and will be seen in September in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”
Brownlow, 72, has restored numerous silent classic films, including Abel Gance’s 1927 masterwork, “Napoleon,” Rex Ingram’s 1921 epic “The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse,” which made Rudolph Valentino a star, and Douglas Fairbanks’ 1924 fantasy “The Thief of Bagdad.” He also is the author of such acclaimed books as “The Parade’s Gone By,” “Hollywood: The Pioneers” and " Mary Pickford Rediscovered.” His numerous documentaries include “Unknown Chaplin,” “Hollywood” and " Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow.”