LOS ANGELES – Michael J.
Directors Peter Weir and Ozan Balsi were also presented with honorary Oscars at the awards ceremony presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Awards contenders including Jennifer Lawrence, Florence Pugh, Angela Bassett, Eddie Redmayne, Michelle Williams, Cate Blanchett, Brendan Fraser, Tom Hanks, Glen Powell and Janelle Monáe attended the black tie gala seen as the official start of Hollywood movie awards season.
Fox, 61, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 29 in 1991, used Bruce Springsteen’s song “No Surrender” to describe his battle to find a cure for the degenerative disorder of the brain.
“This is kind of my own personal anthem,” Fox said, citing the song’s lyrics from the stand: “No retreat, no surrender.”
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Presenting the award, Woody Harrelson, a longtime friend, said Fox had “turned a horrific diagnosis into a courageous mission” by founding the Michael J. Fox Foundation to search for a cure. The foundation has raised more than $1 billion for research.
“He was never asked for the role of a Parkinson’s advocate, but it’s his best performance,” said Harrelson. “Michael J. Fox is the ultimate example of how to fight and how to live.”
After receiving a long standing ovation on his way to the podium, Fox taunted the audience. “You guys are going to make me shiver.”
“This is so cool,” he said, looking at the Oscar statuette.
The “Family Ties” and “Back to the Future” star has given an emotional thank you to Tracy Pollan, his wife of 34 years, for her support from first diagnosis. He struggled for words that said, “Tracy made it clear that she was with me the entire duration.”
Through all of the hardships and health setbacks of Parkinson’s disease, Fox says the experience, advocacy, and work toward a cure has been ultimately rewarding.
“Parkinson’s disease is the gift that keeps on eating,” said Fox. “But it was really a gift.”
After his speech, Fox called Bolan to the podium.
“I can’t believe I’ve stood here this long, it’s a miracle,” said Fox, looking down at the heavy trophy. “I can’t walk and carry this thing. But I’m telling Tracy to carry the weight again.”
Cher gives Diane Warren her first Oscar
“I’m the oldest person here,” Cher, 76, joked after receiving applause for her appearance on the awards podium. The legendary performer of “If I Could Turn Back Time” offered praise to the songwriter and new honorary Academy Award winner.
Warren, 66, had set an Oscar record for most nominations (13) for a single category (Best Original Song) without a win before receiving the honorary award.
Sher has described Warren as “the most prolific writer of my generation, of any generation”.
“I am so pleased to present this to you,” Cher said, handing Warren the Oscar. “I’ve waited (expletive) so long for this.”
Warren tried to hold back the “ugly cry” as he gave thanks from the podium.
“I’ve waited 43 years to say this, but I want to thank the Academy,” Warren said. “I could give a speech. I’ve got so many acceptance speeches I’ve written that I’ve had to crumble in my pocket.”
Jeff Bridges presented an Honorary Academy Award to Weir, 78. Bridges, 72, thanked the late actor Robin Williams for encouraging him to work with the Australian director for the first time on 1993’s Fearless.
“Robin, you were the right guy,” Bridges said of Ware. “Everything you said was true.”
Weir paid tribute to Williams, his co-star in 1983’s “Dead Poet Society,” who died in 2014.
“Robin Williams, if only I could have him back here for five minutes,” Ware said.
Weir said that filmmaking was “like a journey. My crew knew it wasn’t about my egos or theirs, it was about the egos of the movie.”
Balcy, 64, born in Martinique, French West Indies, was the first black female filmmaker to direct a major Hollywood studio film, 1989’s Dry White Season, which earned Marlon Brando his last Oscar nomination.
The leading female director said she took an extended break from filmmaking because she was tired of convincing studios that “black is bankable, female is bankable” at the box office. But seeing the success of films like ‘The Woman King’ showed Palcy that times had changed. She points to Viola Davis, who presented her with an honorary Academy Award, star of the box office hit “The Woman King.”
“Come on guys,” Balsi said, “look at my sister standing with me. The lions are bankable, the female is bankable. The lions and the female are bankable.” “My stories are not black. My stories are not white. They are universal. They are poetry.”
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