The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors will meet early Saturday to select their choices for the 11th annual Governors Awards. The special meeting is three months earlier than the usual post-Telluride Labor Day weekend date because the Academy — along with the rest of its accelerated calendar — has moved up the date for the Governors Awards from November 16 to Sunday, October 27. The nearly three-week jump backward reflects a similar shift for the February 9, 2020 Oscars.
The Governors’ Ball is a non-televised awards program that always draws a sizable contingent of Oscar contenders to the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland to celebrate the honorary Oscar winners (last year, Cicely Tyson, Lalo Schifrin, and Marvin Levy) as well as the occasional Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and Irving J. Thalberg Memorial Awards (last year, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall).
The changed date comes partly because outgoing AMPAS president John Bailey (the board will elect his successor in August) wanted a hand in the selection. (He was instrumental in pushing for the honorary Oscar for the late, great Agnes Varda as well as cinematographer Owen Roizman.) Also, the Academy Museum is scheduled to open by year’s end. (I’ll believe it when I see it.)
Board members go into the meeting ready to champion their favorites. Frequent candidates Albert Finney and Doris Day died before they could get their honorary Oscars. Names that have been bandied about for the honor this year include directors Werner Herzog, Paul Schrader, Stephen Frears, Michael Haneke, Richard Lester, David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Ridley Scott, Peter Weir and Lina Wertmuller; performers Ann-Margret, Leslie Caron, Glenn Close, Norman Lloyd, Catherine Deneuve, Bruce Dern, Kim Novak, Mia Farrow, Harrison Ford, Hal Holbrook, Ian McKellen, Cicely Tyson, Liv Ullman, and Max Von Sydow; and such eminent craft non-winners as composer Philip Glass, writer Elaine May, and VFX master Douglas Trumbull.
Next up on the Board calendar are new governor elections in mid-June. Among the 54 governors — three for each of 17 branches, serving three years — voluntarily leaving their board seats are Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy, publicist Marvin Levy, and director Michael Mann, while terming out are Tom Hanks, production designer Jim Bissell, and the short films and feature animation branch’s Bill Kroyer.
Among the finalists vying for board slots are actresses Brie Larson and Meg Ryan, writer John Ridley, director Susanne Bier, producers Jason Blum and Oscar producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd, the animation branch’s Bonnie Arnold, the publicity branch’s Sid Ganis, and Sony Classics executive Michael Barker (whose co-president, Tom Bernard, did not make it). Offering diversity to the board, the Academy already named three new governors at large for three-year terms to replace their predecessors, including producer Janet Yang, executive DeVon Franklin, and director Rodrigo Garcia.
The Governors will meet on June 29 to pick this year’s crop of new members, whom the Academy will likely announce on July 1.
On August 6, the new Academy Board will vote on new officers, including the replacement for Bailey as president, whose three-year term is timing out. While many governors are trying to find someone with more media savvy, Nancy Utley of Fox Searchlight has a demanding full-time job. Popular former president Sid Ganis’ name keeps coming up (assuming he returns to the board), as well as two governors who vied for the presidency with Bailey last time around, casting director and board secretary David Rubin, and First VP, makeup and hairstylist governor Lois Burwell.