The first Oscars of the year were presented during Tuesday's 14th Governors Awards, as the Academy's Board of Governors honored Angela Bassett, Mel Brooks and Carol Littleton with Honorary Oscars and Michelle Satter with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
The ceremony, put on by Oscar-nominated producer Jennifer Fox and hosted by surprise emcee John Mulaney, was held at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Los Angeles. This year's Governors Awards drew stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr., Ava DuVernay, Greta Gerwig, Taraji P. Henson, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, and many, many more.
"We come together after a year challenged by unprecedented heartache and struggle for many, both inside our industry and also around the world," Academy President Janet Yang opened the show. "We know, though, that light can always find its way into darkness. And tonight, we hope to bring you some light by celebrating four icons of our industry who have each brightened our lives through their immeasurable contributions of joy, transcendent moments of beauty, and numerous pathways for finding awe."
Brooks, who won his first Oscar for writing 1968's The Producers, was introduced by Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, who starred in the original Broadway production of The Producers and the 2005 musical comedy directed by Susan Stroman. Broderick hailed Brooks as "a comedic genius and a legend beyond compare," before the duo broke into song accompanied by Oscar nominee Marc Shaiman on piano. (Watch their full remarks here.)
"I gotta tell you, this means a lot to me," Brooks said onstage. "What does one say? When your peers appreciate your work and they salute you with this golden statue, it means a great deal. It really does... I won't sell this one, I swear to god!"
Oscar-nominated film editor Littleton (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) was honored by Glenn Close, who starred in the Littleton-edited comedy-drama, The Big Chill. "A great editor is an advocate, a detective, a humanist, a philosopher, and in some cases, a sensitive and articulate teacher," the actress said. "Carol Littleton is a great humanist. She loves us with all our faults and foibles." (Watch Close's full remarks here.)
Littleton accepted the Honorary Oscar on behalf of "all editors who toil in the darkness of an editing room," and dedicated the honor to her late husband, cinematographer and former Academy President John Bailey. "Most of all, I want to thank John," she said. "My dear Johnny."
Oscar winner Regina King took the stage to honor her Boyz n the Hood and How Stella Got Her Groove Back co-star and longtime friend, Bassett. "Tonight, I have the honor of presenting an Academy Award to a national treasure," King said. "She is artistic excellence embodied in human form." (Watch King's full remarks here.)
"Lena Horne once said, 'It's so nice to get flowers while you can yet still smell the fragrance,' and indeed, it is," Bassett said in her acceptance speech. "This, for me, is not just another award. It's a testament to my legacy. This trophy represents my contributions to this medium of film, all that I've given of my mind, body and spirit, as an actress who is a Black woman."
Finally, Satter was presented the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by two alumni of the Sundance Institute, two-time Oscar nominee Ryan Coogler and two-time Oscar winner Chloé Zhao. "Michelle, you're a mother to me," Zhao said, "and you're a mother to Ryan, and you're a mother to so many people sitting in this room. You're a mother to all of the artists that you have nurtured and supported. We wouldn't be here without you." (Watch their full remarks here.)
Onstage, Satter reflected on the Sundance Institute's impact and paid tribute to her late son, social justice advocate Michael Latt, who was tragically shot and killed in November. "Tonight, I share this honor with Michael," she said. "He will forever be remembered living in our hearts, who led with love, always showing up with hope, compassion and kindness."