If I was a name-brand filmmaker in the last act of my life, I would politely refuse the Academy’s offer of an Irving Thalberg or Governor’s Award. If your career hasn’t been going great guns, accepting these honors at the Oscar awards, I feel, is a kind of admission to the world that you’re over.
These awardings are always a warm and emotional tribute, yes, and a profound moment of glory. Who could fail to be moved by the Academy saying “we’ve loved your work all these decades, and we want to show our appreciation even though you’ve been winding down for a while…we love you”?
But if you accept this honor, you’re basically saying, “Yeah, you’re right…I’ve had a great career but I’m now officially finished.” If people haven’t been returning some of your calls prior to accepting an honorary career Oscar, they won’t return any of them the morning after. No matter what your “friends” may tell you at parties, you’ll strictly be seen as a retirement village guy from then on. I would rather dream the foolish dream while writing my latest script or meeting with financiers or talking with directors about my next part, etc. Fuck the Gold Watch. Never say die.
This year’s honorees are directors Francis Ford Coppola (i.e., the Irving Thalberg recipient) and Jean-Luc Godard (Governor’s Award) and actor Eli Wallach. Okay, I’d accept it if I was Wallach because he’s…what, in his early 90s? He’s untouchable and un-diminishable. But if I were Godard and Coppola I’d respectfully tell the The Academy fathers “thanks but no thanks.”