The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored the acclaimed director for his filmmaking.
On Oct. 27, 2019, American Director David Lynch won an honorary Academy Award for his lifetime achievements in filmmaking and his humanitarian causes.
At the 11th Annual Governor’s Awards ceremony, an awards ceremony created by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to award the lifetime achievements of filmmakers, four honorary Oscars were handed out. The other winners were Actress Geena Davis, Italian filmmaker Lina Wertmueller and Native American actor Wes Studi (the first Native American actor to win an Academy award).
Lynch was presented with the award by several of his most frequent acting collaborators, including Isabella Rossellini, Laura Dern and Kyle MacLachlan. Rossellini honored him with a speech before presenting him with the award, saying that Lynch “can capture a vast array of human emotion, and he has an incredible original style.” Nothing can be closer to the truth.
When it came time for Lynch to be presented with the award, he kept his acceptance speech short and sweet, a far cry from the complex filmmaking he is known for. “To the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, thank you for this honor.” He continued, “… congratulations to the other honorees tonight, and everyone have a great night.” He then finished his speech by turning to look at the golden Oscar statuette in his hand, saying to it: “You have a very interesting face,” before walking off.
Hollywood Luminaries Quentin Tarantino and Leonardo DiCaprio could be seen applauding, along with the rest of the crowd, who applauded for a time longer than his short speech. Actor Tom Hanks said afterwards of Lynch, “He sees things as a filmmaker that no one else has seen.”
Lynch, best known for his films “Blue Velvet,” “The Elephant Man” and “Mulholland Drive,” had been nominated in various categories four times before, but never won an Oscar. He is known for his unique, surreal style of filmmaking, which raises more questions than it gives answers, leaving you thinking – and dazzled – by the film way after it’s over.
His trademark style is constant along every film he makes, yet each film also feels unique, separated from the rest. “Eraserhead” is creepy, violent and surreal, while “The Elephant Man” is empathetic and emotional. “Blue Velvet,” often cited as his best film, is both. Many of his films play out like fever dreams, even going so far as to replicate the peculiar non-linearity and absurd structure of dreams – dreams being a personal fascination to Lynch.
Lynch also co-created the immensely popular TV Series “Twin Peaks” with Mark Frost in 1990. This classic TV soap opera-styled murder whodunit challenged TV conventions at a very conventional time. This gave the show a cult following and paved the way for other inventive TV shows of its kind (think “Lost,” for example). Lynch also directed the movie spin-off “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,” which added to the lore of the TV show while also being great enough of a film to stand on its own.
Lynch has directed ten films, his most recent being “Inland Empire,” released in 2006. In 2017, he re-booted the Twin Peaks TV series after a 25-year hiatus.
He has also directed short films, made paintings, directed a documentary about the band “Duran Duran” and written an autobiography, “Room to Dream.” Numerous rumors have circulated about his next film project, including that it will be a biopic about the life of Blues musician Robert Johnson. Lynch, originally from Missoula, Montana, is 73 years old.
For Lynch, this Oscar win is a momentous achievement, and a recognition of his talent from critics who have booed and panned his films in the past. Like so many visionaries in history, it is the audience that catches up to him over time, a true indicator of his genius and his lasting legacy.