Director Spike Lee and actress Gena Rowlands will receive honorary Oscar awards, while the coveted Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award will go to Singin’ in the Rain star Debbie Reynolds.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made the announcement of the honorary awards on Thursday after its Board of Governors voted on Tuesday.
All three awards will be presented at the academy’s 7th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 14, at the at the Hollywood & Highland Center.
The honorary awards, Oscar statuettes, are given “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service,”
“The board is proud to recognize our honorees’ remarkable contributions,” said academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs in a statement on Thursday. “We’ll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished – with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference – will also enrich future generations.”
Lee made his film debut with his NYU thesis film, Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, which won a Student Academy Award in 1983.
His Do the Right Thing, earned him a 1989 Oscar nomination for original screenplay. Many film pundits consider his lack of directing nomination for the film a major snub
His work as a director ranges from the Oscar-nominated documentary feature 4 Little Girls to such mainstream successes as Malcolm X , Inside Man and Jungle Fever. He currently serves as the artistic director of the graduate film program at NYU.
Rowlands received Academy Award nominations for her lead performances in A Woman under the Influence (1974) and Gloria (1980), both directed by her husband and frequent collaborator, John Cassavetes.
Reynolds has a Hollywood icon since she won hearts with her performance in Singin’ in the Rain and received a SAG Lifetime Achievement award in January. She is also a founding member of the Thalians, a charitable organization conceived and sustained by entertainers to promote awareness and treatment of mental health issues.
Reynolds served as the group’s president almost continuously from 1957 to 2011 while frequently presiding over its annual fundraising gala. The Thalians contributed millions to the Mental Health Center at Cedars-Sinai and to UCLA’s Operation Mend, which helps military veterans recover from the physical and psychological wounds of war.
Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY