A mathematical calculus goes into attending a movie star tribute. Truth is, most people would rather be home in their pajamas on a Friday night. So why turn up in black tie for salty Beverly Hilton salmon at the American Cinematheque Awards?
If you’re a big enough name, you don’t have to. “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins, who also helmed Charlize Theron’s Oscar-winning “Monster,” and Theron’s “Bombshell” costars Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie, delivered video tributes, along with Tom Hanks, who starred with Theron back in 1996 in “That Thing You Do!” “The more famous people Skyped in,” observed Seth Rogen, who showed up to present Theron with the 33rd American Cinematheque Award.
Here’s why these Hollywood folks agree to participate in these fundamentally fake events.
You’re engaged in an awards campaign.
Tom Hanks plays Fred Rogers in potential Oscar contender “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Videotaping a brief speech on his lawn (“you’re not done yet, oh no”) reminds people that they like him. “How fuckable was Tom Hanks?” joked Rogen. “Very svelte.”
This is also why Kristen Stewart gave an awkwardly raunchy speech for her “Snow White and the Huntsman” costar — she’s promoting “Seberg” (Amazon Studios) this season. “She can quite literally grab your heart with her bare hands,” said Stewart. “I would follow her into battle and I hope to. I want to work with you!”
You have a movie to promote.
Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer and his studio chief Joe Drake were on hand to support holiday release “Bombshell,” which is in the Oscar hunt, and romantic comedy “Long Shot,” costarring Theron and presenter Rogen, which isn’t.
“Charlize is honestly very difficult to make fun of,” Rogen said. “Her career is also very hard to make fun of.” Nonetheless he dive-bombed her relentlessly: “She hangs out real late,” he said. “That pained, complicated look that you all think is emotional depth? She’s just fucked up from the night before, choking back vomit…Charlize looks better with a shaved head than Vin Diesel does.”
Theron weathered his ribbing with good grace until she took the stage to accept the award. “What an asshole!” she said. “Besides Seth, I’m so honored…Listening to people say nice things about you is awesome but it doesn’t always feel right…I’m very comfortable violently dismembering bad guys, making out with 90 percent of SAG/AFTRA, and being a serial killer.”
She thanked her mother for taking her to the drive-in every Friday, including “Fatal Attraction” when she was eight. “That’s probably why I’m so well-adjusted.” As she thanked her presenters, Theron laughed as she realized that most of them were already gone.
You want to work with them.
Writer/director/actor Seth MacFarlane rushed to the stage to reassure his “A Million Ways to Die in the West” star that he was still there. His monologue was by far the most profane and entertaining of the night. Theron reminded him that “African-Americans are a thing in Hollywood,” he said of the South African native. Theron is “the abusive alcoholic father I never had,” he said, while also genuinely thanking the actress for her “kindness and professional altruism.”
David Oyelowo described his “Gringo” costar as laughing so hard that she once “pissed herself,” he said. “She’s unapologetic, inquisitive and totally herself.”
Director Jason Reitman cast Theron in two films written by Diablo Cody, “Young Adult” and “Tully,” which may not have been hits, but they showcased her comedic, dramatic, and transformative prowess. Reitman takes advantage of her skills as a shapeshifter and chameleon in a way few others have. “She’s one of us, she gets the joke,” he said. “She’s a storyteller…She doesn’t act. She opens up her ribs.” He added: “You are not only the most fearless actor I’ve ever met in my life, but the most fearless human being I’ve ever met in my life.”
Patton Oswalt praised Theron for being willing to be so “brazenly unlikable” in “Young Adult” and remains grateful for their sex scene. “Hot or funny, just pick one, okay?” he said. “It’s a little greedy. I made a commitment: I gained 40 pounds for ‘Young Adult’ 20 years before Diablo Cody wrote it.”
You owe someone.
Why on earth would well-preserved, high-end producer, and ex-DreamWorks executive Walter Parkes come to the American Cinematheque Awards? He presented the Sid Grauman achievement award to AMC Theatres chairman Adam Aron (who once ran a cruise line and Starwood Hotels), because AMC is backing Parkes’ VR company Dreamscape. Mystery solved.
You want “Bombshell” to win Oscars.
Hard-charging WME CEO Ari Emanuel doesn’t show up at these things for no reason. Right now, his client Theron is on the verge of an Oscar nomination for playing Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell,” as well as a possible second Oscar win. WME was at the Beverly Hilton in force.
Director Jay Roach thanked “Bombshell” producer/star Theron for asking him to direct after he gave her some notes on the script as a friend, as well as saving the film by finding financier Bron and distributor Lionsgate when Annapurna fell out. Theron “makes it look so easy when it is so not,” he said.
Roach can take credit for how well “Bombshell” turned out — including Theron’s performance. So far the filmmaker behind “Game Change” and “Recount” has directed Emmy winners. The better this movie does at the box office, and the more her cred rises over the arc of awards season, the better his chances of gaining stature as the director of an Oscar winner.
The person most likely to win an Oscar at the Cinematheque Awards was Kazuhiro Tsuji, the incomparable makeup artist behind Gary Oldman’s Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour.” He could win another Oscar for turning Theron into Megyn Kelly (the eyelids were the hardest, he told me), John Lithgow into jowly Roger Ailes, and Nicole Kidman into Gretchen Carlson, respectively. Theron went to him because he worked on Netflix series “Mindhunter,” which she produced.
She knows what she’s doing.