Having exorcised my annoyance at Hollywood’s endless awards
season, I must admit it has at least one benefit: getting to rub elbows with
people I admire at events like Friday’s AFI luncheon and Saturday night’s Los
Angeles Film Critics Association dinner. I actually vote for these two awards,
so participating gives them some personal meaning for me.
The American Film Institute honors ten outstanding American
films as well as ten outstanding television series every year, so the banquet
room at the Four Seasons Hotel is packed with famous faces. It isn’t every day
when you can look around and see Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, the
creators of Breaking Bad and Mad Men, and scores of other creative
giants from both sides of the camera. Shirley MacLaine was called upon to end
the luncheon with a “benediction” in which she summed up her feelings about a
sixty-year career working with the best and the brightest.
The LAFCA dinner is always a collegial event. With three tie
votes this year, there were more honorees than usual, but no one had cause to
complain. In fact, the directors of Best Picture winners Spike Jonze and
Alfonso Cuarón said how pleased they were to share the honor with each other. I
was happy to present our Legacy Award to the Criterion Collection for its years
of outstanding work in home video, where their company is universally hailed as
the gold standard. Co-owners Peter Becker and Jonathan Turell, whose fathers
started Janus Films decades ago, were there to accept.
It’s impossible to capture these experiences in just a
handful of photos, but here are some of my favorites.