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Who should receive an Honorary Oscar?

Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow in "Shame"Pete Hammond at Deadline revealed this morning that with all the dates moving earlier next Oscar season, the Academy is actually choosing the next Honorary Oscar winners THIS WEEKEND. It's too late then for an FYC but we feel the need to do one anyway. In the past we've made great suggestions like Albert Finney, Doris Day, Neil Simon, Michael Ballhaus, and Marni Nixon but they let all those people die without honoring them which is such bad form. At least they heard us on Maureen O'Hara, Harry Belafonte, and Angela Lansbury!

I have a suspicion that Caleb Deschanel, obviously a well-loved cinematographer given that surprise sixth nomination for the German film Never Look Away last season, will be named this year. He's 74 years old. For some reason I don't think they'll go with Glenn Close quite yet though she's a common prediction. She's 72 but working a lot right now and still in her prime.





  • Tippi Hedren - but will they consider animal rights work 'humanitarian?'
  • Sir Ian McKellen - A two time Oscar nominee and a gay icon and advocate for LGBTQ rights. Oscar has not been kind to the gays in many ways so this would be a deserving and smart gesture.  



  • Catherine Deneuve -total screen icon. Former nominee. Bonafide classics across four entire decades (1960s-2000s) and still acting, too, and often with fine or challenging directors in France. She's 75.
  • Max Von Sydow & Liv Ullmann - Ingmar Bergman's Scandinavian muses have both been Oscar nominated multiple times and have rich filmographies. Von Sydow is 90 and Ullmann is 80.
  • Glynis Johns - She was only nominated once but she has a really fun filmography and she was one of a kind on the screen. She'll turn 96 just a week or two before the Honoraries this year.
  • David Lynch - so unique as a writer/director that he has his own adjective and everyone understands what "Lynchian" means. Multiple classics, four previous nominations. He's 73 years old and will clearly never win an Oscar given that he's too iconoclastic. You have to be on his wavelength.
  • John Waters - like Lynch he's one of a kind. It would be a daring nod to really "indie" filmmakers who create their own worlds onscren and change the culture. Even if they embrace "trash" rather than respectability where Oscars usually come from. He's 73 years old.
  • David Cronenberg - For the same reasons as Lynch & Waters - one of a kind. Though I fear they've missed a window with him. There were a few years in which people felt he was undervalued but that time frame isn't right now. He's 76 years old.
  • Ridley Scott - Always a bridesmaid at the Oscars (4 nominations) despite unassailable classics like Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, and Alien and a Best Picture winner in Gladiator. He's 81 years old.
  • Zhang Yimou. He's 69 and has so many great films under his belt. He's been up twice for the Best Foreign Film Award. 
  • Sigourney Weaver. Three-time nominee. Still awesome. 69 years old


Who is your dream for an Honorary Oscar this year? You know I wanted to say Pfeiffer, Bassett,  Woodard, and The Bening but they're all in their early to mid sixties which is a bit young for an Honorary.

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Reader Comments (60)

All of them right now.

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

I can't believe Catherine Deneuve is not an Oscar winner.
The Sir Ian McKellen pick is so on point. Yes yes yes and yes.

I'll add another name to the honorary list: Diahann Carroll.

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterV.

Ridley Scott,he has done so much for film.

resurrected old genres,

made 2 of the best sci-fi films ever which so far have not been topped,

he gave Sigourney her break and created an Icon,

directed 7 people to an Oscar nomination,

his films are always beautiful to look at,

he fought for Giger's Alien design,

allowed Rube Dee to slap Denzel,

Brad Pitt's abs have everything to thank Scott for,

gave us 1 of the best endings ever in T and L,

put Tom Cruise in a loincloth in 84 when he was hot.

Gave us Susan Srandon's finest performance

Gave Oliver Reed a great swansong

and lots more

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Liv Ullmann!!

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

Mel Brooks. Small window of greatness but hugely influential

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C

Von Sydow definitely. It would be super if he spared the honor with Ullman but I doubt the Academy would choose two actors in the same year.

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPete

All great choices. You might be right about Caleb Deschanel. What about Thomas Newman?

They should have nominated Cronenberg for The Fly and A History of Violence. Maybe his chance will come.

Lynch deserves endless praise. Scott may win yet.

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Almodóvar! At 69, he's older than Bergman was when he won his honorary. I think they like to honor them when they're making reflective autumnal films like his latest, and when they're influence is so clearly showing up in the next generation.

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

Almodóvar has won two competitive Oscars (or one, if you consider the country the winner of Best International Feature Film). Honorary Oscars should primarily focus on those who haven’t won competitively since they give so few out per year (unless we’re talking the Hersholt).

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterManny

What I would do to see Academy Award winner John Waters...

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterasf

Okay Cher has an oscar and Bette Midler doesn't.....?!

Donald Sutherland! He should have been nominated numerous times and I don't even think he has ever been nominated for pity's sake!

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterScott O'Neill

Deneuve, Keitel, Ullmann, Deschanel, Kristi Zea, Santo Loquasto, Mike Leigh, Carlos Saura

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Vanessa Redgrave - Humanitarian Award

Max Von Sydow - Liv Ullmann - Ian McKellen - Honorary Awards

Other people I hope be remembered:

Wong Kar Wai
Zhang Yimou
Werner Herzog
Peter Weir
Lina Wetermüller
Harrison Ford
Samuel L Jackson
Gong Li
Isabelle Huppert
Andy Serkis
Angela Bassett
Jean Louis Trintgnant

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian

Scott: Sutherland got his Honorary Oscar in 2017.

Manny: Almodóvar has only won one Oscar. The country is the winner of (what was then) Best Foreign Language Film. (The only exception was 1956, when La Strada won, and the Oscar was credited to the country and the producers.)

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

"Honorary Oscars should primarily focus on those who haven’t won competitively since they give so few out per year (unless we’re talking the Hersholt)."

I dunno - I think Honorary should be for the career as a whole, and many oscar recognized people still have the kind of career I think an Honorary would be fair.

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Bette Midler!

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

I saw the title and came to yell CATHERINE DENEUVE, but alas, we're on the same page.

Along with the names already mentioned (especially Lynch, Cronenberg, and Waters), I'd love to see Danny Glover, Samuel L. Jackson, Harvey Keitel, Bette Midler, Harrison Ford, or Lily Tomlin honored. Although Jackson could probably still get a competitive one at this point if given the right role/vehicle.

I'd also suggest Rosemary Harris, Celia Weston, Diahann Carroll, and Blythe Danner, but their contributions to film may not be seen as "big" enough to warrant such an honor.

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmexperince

Peter Weir: 4 Directing Noms and hasn't directed a film in nearly ten years since The Way Back.

Marsha Mason: Age 77, Although still working it doesn't seem likely she'll return to a competitive Oscar category. Represents four leading acting noms with no wins.

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAdamA

Pam Grier
Liv Ullmann
John Waters
Lily Tomlin
David Lynch

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

So many great ideas here! I'll second Vanessa Redgrave's humanitarian award.

A few other actresses -
Leslie Caron
Jane Alexander
Diane Ladd

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEllsworth

Harrison Ford has a good shot. Respected, made a lot of people a lot of money, still active but not as much. The Star Wars movie is coming out, so people will be thinking about him in public conscious again.
Mel Brooks would be a great way to honor comedy since they so rarely do that.

Also what about three studio beauties- Nancy Olson, Ann Blyth, and Terry Moore- all previous nominees.

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTom G.

The great foreign film directors (Bergman, Kurosawa, Fellini) usually get honorary Oscars even after their films win best foreign picture (probably because the director doesn't officially win anything.) I had forgotten Pedro had gotten a really real one for screenplay.

If I can't do him, I'd add Piper Laurie, three-time loser and author of probably the most influential horror performance (except maybe Jack Nicholson.)

(@AdamA -- ty. Unseemly to advocate for oneself, but you know I was thinking the same thing.)

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

Still trying to figure out the exception film career of last year’s recipient, Cecily Tyson. Emmy or Golden Globe Career Achievement Award, yes-but, Honorary Oscar for one major performance?!?

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

Glenn Close for the honorary and Danny Glover for the Jean Hersholt.

May 31, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

So many are deserving, but the name that jumps out at me is Mel Brooks. Not only for his comedies but he was the producer for "The Elephant Man".
If you have any doubts, just watch the presentation for Brooks from the Kennedy Centre for the Arts.

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

I am starting to think with myself that if in the next eight years we have something like

Ian McKellen - Liv Ullmann - Max Von Sydow - Vanessa Redgrave
Gong Li - Catherine Deneuve - Jean Louis Trintgnam - Lily Tomlin
Charlotte Rampling - Danny Glover - Derek Jacob - Stellan Skarsgård -
Leslie Caron (could die first) - Terrence Malick - Brian de Palma
Ridley Scott - Wong Kar Wai - Zhang Yimou - Peter Weir
Werner Herzog - Lina Wetermüller - Brian Cox - David Lynch
David Cronenberg - Carlos Saura - Terrence Stamp - Sam Neil
Ed Harris -

Awarded, who the academy will award after that? This are our greatest movie legends and stars with a great carrier. I am afraid that the honorary Oscar become in the near future something less "important" becaise of the future recipients (not so good as the gold ones).

Or they change the rules and start do give the honorary awards to people who already has won the competitive Oscar. Or directors under sixty years old who should already awarded (PTA, Fincher, Nolan, Villeneuve, James Gray, Korean directors, Kore-eda , etc).

(I think that

Sigourney Weaver, Angela Bassett, Glenn Close, Laurence Fishburne, Samuel L Jackson, Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hugh Grant, Ralph Fiennes, Isabelle Huppert, Bette Midler, Andy Serkis, Harvey Keitel, Liam Neeson, Annette Bening will win until 2030. that is the reason why they are not on my list).

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian

John Waters! John Waters!! John Waters!!!

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterstjeans

After Glenn humiliating lost of this year (yet fuck*&! again....Dangerous Liaisons anyone? Lack of nomination for Reversal of Fortune and so on....) Please create a price for her the "Let's never give an Oscar to the most deserving actress EVER!!!!!!

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterstjeans

listing everyone's age gives me the same unsettling feeling i had in fosse/verdon when the "[number of] years left" captions would pop up

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Marsha --- if you were the real Marsha Mason i could die happy

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

My money is on Ian McKellen for the 2019 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and for the Honorary Awards to Catherine Deneuve, John Waters & Ridley Scott.

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Hartsell

Alex -- you really think they'll give an award to a gay rights activist? They haven't been that progressive yet. I'm hoping they will but I'll be shocked (and elated) if they do.

June 1, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Claire Bloom
Gina Lollobrigida
Max Von Sydow
Jhon Waters
Harrison Ford
And yes Marsha Mason

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJavier

It's CATHERINE DENEUVE for me, too.

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKl

All good names on the list and in the comments. I would throw in these additional names:
Peter Weir;
Werner Herzog;
Lina Wertmüller (whose name was allegedly discussed more than once);
and something of a collective award (don't think they go for it, but.. never know) for Monty Python

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarco70go

You all know they would choose at least someone who is not on this list.

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFadhil

Given they gave Jackie Chan a honorary award a few years ago, it is pointless trying to guess who they will give it to next year.

I agree they won't honor Glenn Close cos the thinking is that she SHOULD finally win next year for Sunset Boulevard ( or the year after depending on when it is finished).

Having said that - they DID honor Henry Fonda and Paul Newman the year before they finally won their best actor awards.

So the suggestions listed are all good - and maybe this time they will expand it to more than 5. C'mon Academy - honor 10 legends next year.

And force James Woods, Jon Voight and Clint Eastwood to present them.

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

From Nathaniel's list I'd prioritize David Lynch, Glynis Johns, and John Waters.

From everyone else's suggestions I think Harrison Ford, Piper Laurie, and Terrence Stamp are all great ideas.

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

oh wow, I’m so surprised Peter Weir has not made a film in ten years. He is so god damn talented (Truman Show and Master and Commander being him at his best). I hope he is ok.

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterhuh

Love the choices - my pick (actors): Catherine Deneuve, Ian, Liv & Max
and yes Piper Laurie - should be up there!
Quiet unlikely but what about Joan Plowright for the list ?
I'm a fan of Tippi Hedren - such an icon - but her body of acting work is to small I guess - also never nominated...

Well sad for the Academy for missing out on Albert Finney & Doris Day indeed!
But apparently to Day's management they offered 6 times over the past years, had Tom Hanks and others running petitions and she always declined it - as she didn't want all the attention ... "She also turned down George Stevens Jr. when he asked her to be a Kennedy Center Honoree, as well as declining an offer from the AFI to receive their highest honor. In the case of Doris Day, this is a genuine and very real sense of modesty and wish to not be set apart. The reason she agreed to accept the DeMille Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press was because her son Terry was nominated for a Golden Globe for co-writing the song, "Kokomo". She was very proud of that fact and wanted to be there to support him, otherwise I seriously doubt whether she would have gone to the event." So to their defence - we can't say they haven't tried ;-)

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermartin

Did you all forget Brooks is an Oscar winner for his masterpiece, the screenplay of The Producers? Let's save the honorary awards for people who have never won.

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

martin -- i've never bought this line of reasoning because they gave Godard one and there was no way in hell he was ever going to show up. Same with Kate Hepburn and Woody Allen for their multiple competitive Oscars. Always the academy knew those three wouldn't be there.

June 1, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

That Liv Max double seems too irresistible.
McKellen, Deneuve, and I think Peter Weir all deserve one too.

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBigtalldrew

Glynis Johns!!!!! Don't let her special place in cinema go unrecognized.

I'd be happy to see either Catherine Deneuve or Charlotte Rampling selected or better both!

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

GLENN CLOSE! Accept the award the moment the it's offered to you!

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterReynolds

I mean, if we're going off lack of real opportunities as opposed to strictly aging? John Cusack has been bordering on tapped out for awhile now. If that turns out wrong, great, but from where I'm looking right now, his last nomination worthy work was almost two decades ago and no one wants him for anything. Should probably be around 2-4 nods (some combo of 1986 Supporting, 1988 Supporting, 1997 Lead and 2000 Lead), with the first and third nominations as the "good win" bids. An honorary is about as close to justice for being slept on as he's likely to get, sadly.

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I agree with Javier. Kim Novak would be a lovely and quite touching choice. But Catherine Deneuve and Harrison Ford both seem undeniable. Each has an impressive filmography that spans decades and includes numerous classic titles. Wouldn't be surprised if Charlotte Rampling is among those getting serious consideration. Her arthouse credentials just keep getting more impressive.

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen

John Carpenter

June 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDarren

Glenn Close!

June 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGeri

Some of the folks being suggested here (Dianne Carrroll, Blythe Danner spring instantly to mind), while certainly fine people with respectable careers, are not exactly film legends and have not contributed much if anything in the Genuinely Classic Film department. Pretty sure they would be no-goes. I like the idea of Mel Brooks. Even Harrison Ford, of whom I'm not a fan, would seem appropriate, as do Deneuve, Ridley Scott, and yes for sure Glenn Close - dear god give that woman some gold already. she's more than earned it!

June 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

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