Four standing ovations in one night might seem a little over-the-top, even by Hollywood standards. But at the Governors Awards Saturday night, where Michael J. Fox, Euzhan Palcy, Peter Weir and Diane Warren were celebrated with honorary Oscar statuettes, each moment felt worthy.
After several pandemic-adjusted years, the annual event to hand out honorary Oscar statuettes, put on by the Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, was back in full form at Los Angeles' Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel on Saturday.
The ballroom was teeming with stars including Tom Hanks, Viola Davis, Colin Farrell, Angela Bassett, Margot Robbie, Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Yeoh, Robert Downey Jr., Michelle Williams, Cher, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Rooney Mara, Jessica Chastain, Damien Chazelle, Jordan Peele and Ron Howard.
The Governors Awards is a celebration of the honorees and a chance for many of the filmmakers and actors hoping to win awards to mingle with potential voters.
But the main event brought everyone to their seats: The presentation of the honorary Oscars.
Fox, who was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his contributions to Parkinson's disease research, was up first and received a colorful introduction from his friend Woody Harrelson.
"He's a genuinely great guy," Harrelson said. "What can I say? He's Canadian."
The 61-year-old "Back to the Future' and "Family Ties" star was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991 at age 29 and in 2000 started a foundation to fund further research into the condition. To date, the foundation has raised more than $1.5 billion.
"My optimism is fueled by my gratitude," Fox said.
Cher was on hand to introduce Warren, the prolific songwriter and 13-time Oscar nominee. She laughed that Warren will often call her to say she's written her best song yet, to which Cher responds, "You always say that."
When Warren took the stage, she said the words she's been waiting to say for 34 years, since she got her first Oscar nomination: "I'd like to thank the Academy."
"Mom, I finally found a man," Warren said, looking at the golden statuette.
Jeff Bridges came out to celebrate Weir, the Australian filmmaker who directed him in the 1993 film "Fearless." He said it was Robin Williams who brought them together.
Weir, too, reflected about Williams, with whom he worked on "Dead Poets Society" and marveled about how Williams was when no one was around and inspiration would strike.
Weir, 78, was a leading voice in the Australian New Wave movement, with pictures like "Picnic at Hanging Rock," "The Last Wave" and "Gallipoli," before successfully transferring to Hollywood filmmaking where he traversed genres with ease directing films like "Dead Poets Society" and "The Truman Show" to "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World."
"I had a wonderful 20 years of making studio pictures," Weir said. "I love craft I think that's what it's all about. Don't you love something that's well made whether it's a chair a table or a statue?"
Davis helped close out the night celebrating Palcy, who was the first Black woman to direct a film produced by a major studio (MGM with "A Dry White Season").
"I am always defending my womanhood and my blackness," Davis said. "You said, 'I ain't gonna do that, I'm going to wait for the work that is worthy of my talent.' You used it as warrior fuel."
Palcy also retreated from Hollywood moviemaking in the past decade, but unlike Weir, the 64-year-old Martinique native is ready to come back and make films again.
"Black is bankable. Female is bankable," Palcy said. "My stories are not Black, they are not white, they are universal."