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About the Academy Awards  

Oscar Statuette and Other Academy Awards
  Academy Award of Merit
  Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award
  Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
  Special Achievement Award
  Honorary Award
  Gordon E. Sawyer Award
  Scientific and Engineering Award
  Technical Achievement Award
  John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation
  Student Academy Award

Honorary Award


Honorary Award

The Academy's Honorary Award is given to honor "extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy." It is given at the discretion of the Board of Governors and is not necessarily given every year, although the last year it was not given was 1987.

The Honorary Award may take the form of an Oscar statuette, and if it does, it is presented on the telecast of the presentations. This is the Honorary Award most familiar to the public. It is sometimes given to honor a filmmaker for whom there is no annual Academy Award category: choreographer Michael Kidd in 1996, for instance, or animator Chuck Jones in 1995. It can be given to an organization, such as the National Film Board of Canada in 1988, or even a company, such as Eastman Kodak which received it that same year.

Andrzej Wajda received an Honorary Award in 1999 "in recognition of five decades of extraordinary film direction." The presenter was Jane Fonda.


It is relatively unusual for two Honorary Awards to be given in the same year, but it happens two or three times a decade. The last time was in 1995 when both Kirk Douglas and Chuck Jones received Honorary Award Oscars, and before that in 1990 when both Sophia Loren and Myrna Loy were awarded.

The Honorary Award is not called a lifetime achievement award by the Academy, but it is often given for a life's work in filmmaking - to Polish director Andzrej Wajda in 1999, for example, and to Elia Kazan the previous year.

The Honorary Award also may be given for outstanding service to the Academy. The last time this happened, however, was in 1979, when an Oscar statuette was presented to Academy Governor Hal Elias, who had served more than a quarter century on the Board of Governors.


Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy with "their" 1937 wooden Oscar statuette.

The Honorary Award can also take the form of a life membership in the Academy, a scroll, a medal, a certificate or any other design chosen by the Board of Governors. The John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation, given for "outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy," is considered an Honorary Award. It is usually given at the annual presentation of Scientific and Technical Awards, a dinner ceremony separate from the annual telecast.





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