Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola has received a lifetime achievement Oscar, during a Los Angeles ceremony. The cream of Hollywood actors turned out for the event to see the filmmaker get the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award.
Robert DeNiro paid tribute to Coppola, calling him “an inspiration and one of my biggest influences”. As he accepted the prize, Coppola said: “I have a great love of the original Hollywood tradition and admiration for the tradition of Irving Thalberg.”
Star Wars creator George Lucas called Coppola “my big brother and my mentor”. He continued: “He taught me how to write. He taught me how to direct. He actually personified a whole era of the American film industry. He was our leader. He was our inspiration.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science said Coppola’s Irving Thalberg Memorial Award was given to “a creative producer whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production”. It has only been presented 38 times since the award was established in 1937.
But it is not Coppola’s first Academy Award, as he already has five the trophies. Four of them were for his Godfather films. Through his American Zoetrope studio, which he established in 1969, Coppola has produced more than 30 films, including The Black Stallion, The Outsiders and Lost in Translation, which earned his daughter Sofia an Academy Award nomination for best director.
DeNiro also helped recognise 94-year-old actor Eli Wallach, who was presented with an Oscar for a 60-year acting career that continues today. “Eli, now that we’re going for the same parts, I hope we can remain friends,” DeNiro joked.
Clint Eastwood, who worked with Wallach on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, called him “a great performer and a great friend”. Kevin Spacey presented filmmaker, historian and author Kevin Brownlow with an Academy Award for his work preserving and protecting silent films.
French director Jean-Luc Godard, a key figure in the French New Wave movement, was also awarded an Oscar, although he did not attend the event – BBC