Angela Bassett was honored at the U.S. film academy’s Governors Awards on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
The event offered a chance to celebrate some of the industry’s living legends, including Mel Brooks, Bassett and film editor Carol Littleton, who all collected honorary Oscars at the Ray Dolby Auditorium, just steps from where the Academy Awards will be broadcast in March.
“It’s such an honor for me to be hosting this,” Mulaney said. “Growing up, as a boy, I would always watch the non-televised Governors Awards even though they only started 14 years ago. We would all gather in front of the turned off TV. It was the only time I ever saw my dad smile.”
The annual event is put on by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize contributions to the industry and a life’s achievement. It used to be part of the Oscars telecast but shifted to a separate occasion in 2009, where there would be no time constraints on the speeches.
Mulaney read a real email from his agents about auditioning for the role of “young cop” in an untitled Maggie Gyllenhaal project, which had the audience in stitches.
Speaking about Bassett, he said “she got an Oscar nomination for a Marvel movie…that’s like getting a Pulitzer Prize for a Reddit comment.”
The event, which was delayed from its original November date because of the actors strike, is also a de facto campaign stop for the current season’s awards hopefuls. Voting for the 96th Oscars begins on Thursday and nominations will be announced on Jan. 23 for the March 10 ceremony.
Littleton worked frequently with both Lawrence Kasdan and Jonathan Demme, editing films like “Body Heat,” “The Big Chill,” “Swimming to Cambodia” and “The Manchurian Candidate.” She received her first and only Oscar nomination for “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” the only film she’s edited for Steven Spielberg. She was also married to cinematographer and former Academy president John Bailey, who died in November at age 81.
Bassett gave an impassioned speech, talking about acting as not just a career but a calling. She said the honorary Oscar is not just another award but “a testament to my legacy.”
The 65-year-old received her first Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do With It” and her second last year for playing the grieving queen in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” She noted that she’s only the second Black actress to receive the honorary Oscar, following in the footsteps of the late Cicely Tyson who she considered a mentor.
“The stakes are extremely high because history depends on us,” Bassett said. “My prayer is that we leave this industry more enriched.”