No aspect of the second annual Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Gala was left unstar-studded. The event's co-chairs? None other than Halle Berry, Jason Blum, Ryan Murphy, and Lupita Nyong'o. With a musical performance by? None other than the iconic Diana Ross. And this year's honorees? Some of the biggest names in the industry.
The 2022 Gala, which raised $10 million to support the museum's access, education, and programming initiatives, honored Julia Roberts, Tilda Swinton, Steve McQueen, and producer and philanthropist Miky Lee with awards for their contributions to cinema. (If the stainless steel statuettes look familiar, it's because they are inspired by Oscar himself.)
Each honoree was introduced by an equally starry presenter (George Clooney! Daniel Kaluuya! Luca Guadagnino!) before saying a few words onstage. Here are their speeches, in full.
The Oscar-winning actress (Erin Brockovich) was the recipient of the inaugural Icon Award, honoring her decades-long career in cinema and her significant global cultural impact. George Clooney, her frequent co-star in such films as Ocean's Eleven and the upcoming Ticket to Paradise, in theaters Oct. 21, was there to present the award to her.
"Julia Roberts is exactly what you want her to be. Of course, she's talented and she's beautiful and she's smart. She's funny. She's kind and she is compassionate. She is an incredible mother. She's a fantastic wife, she tells me. She's a great fake wife, by the way! I can say that," Cooney said of her. "And, above all, she is a great friend to, I think, probably everybody in this room. She is now and has always been an icon."
Here are Roberts' remarks:
I feel I've been tricked a lot about this evening. I thought there was going to be, like, 47 people here. And, whenever George is serious, it makes me really uncomfortable. So, I'm at a huge disadvantage right now. But I want to do something that I don't normally do, which is just try to slow my heart down and hold this space with all of you right now. Because we are in a magnificent place, and the energy of the collective artists' heart together is really magical and special. And to feel that I am among this group of people is quite extraordinary for me.
Driving here, to see the 47 of you that I thought would be here, there were suddenly all these lights and cones and things. And it said, "Road closed, detour to the left." And I thought of my older kids who are filling out college essays and trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives and who they want to be. And I thought, Yeah, I remember being 17 and feeling like there was a big flashing sign that said, "Road Closed. Detour to the left."
I found myself walking in my parents' footsteps as artists, not ever realizing that was what I wanted to do with my life. And suddenly, where their dreams dissolved, I had to forge my own path that went further than theirs did. And that is because my greatest talent is finding kindred spirits and choosing phenomenal friends to surround myself with. So, to be iconic? I'm more ironic than iconic. But to be up here tonight and get this wee sweet little thing, and to have George have to say nice things about me in front of people, and just to be in the company of Miky and Steve and sweet Tilda, my friend, is such a joy.
I just want to say, everybody, dream your dreams, and kiss each other a lot, and enjoy your dessert, and tip your waiter. Thank you.
The Oscar-winning actress (Michael Clayton) received the Visionary Award, honoring an extensive body of work that has advanced the art of cinema. Friend and longtime collaborator, Luca Guadagnino, who's directed Swinton in such films as I Am Love, A Bigger Splash, and Suspiria, presented her with the honor.
"Tilda represents a very powerful inspiration for many generations of filmmakers, moviegoers and artists in all fields of the arts. With her enormous curiosity, joy of living, and anti-conformism, Tilda has proved to be one of the greatest artists living today," he said. "The gallery of the characters she's portrayed over and over in more than 60 movies is a human comedy that has enlightened us on our condition."
Here are Swinton's remarks:
I was with a six-year-old recently who asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. And it felt to me like a perfectly valid and reasonable question, but I stumbled about for a grown-up answer. And all I could think of was a string of words that made me a six-year-old too: Safe, happy, useful, curious, supplied with adventures, deep in wonders, in friendship, in nature, rich in dogs. Making cinema, such as I've been privileged enough to do since I was a young person, affords me all of the above. It's become my happy place, my landscape and my family plot. I should be so lucky never to grow up and out of this.
Tonight feels both supersonically fantastical and undeniably grown-up. I have a pretty active imagination; however, to be honored in this way by this phenomenal institution, alongside these extraordinary individuals, is so far beyond even my wildest possible dream. I'm incapable. It's kind of nuts.
We all, under this roof, know that cinema is good for us. Cinema shows us who we are. The material it's made of is the very stuff of our passions, our fears, our fetishes, our glory, and our highest potential. The vision held by this museum, this incredible spaceship that we're in right now, is a cultural mission perhaps more urgent now than ever. The preservation of our cinema archive and the promotion of cinema as a source of spiritual health and a powerful force in the furtherance of social justice is a treasuring of the keys to the codes of our identity, and a breadcrumb trail through the forest towards the best that we can be, and the best that we can do.
We who support this mission are proud to fly this flag. By being here tonight, we pledge our commitment to doing everything we can to nourish its path. We congratulate the Academy Museum on its exquisite mothership, and we salute Rolex, by the way, for the grace of its invaluable support.
For my part, I am beyond touched by the honor you do me here. I thank the Academy Museum from the bottom of my heart for the kindness it extends to me tonight. You encouraged me to believe that a six-year-old might grasp what a community like our great dreamscape of world cinema need never give up on: Fellowship and inspired spirit, a reach for better things, wilder dreams, and wiser times. It's all ahead, and it's all to play for. Let's dig deep. Long live cinema. Long live the Academy Museum. Lots of love.
Sir Steve McQueen
The Oscar-winning director, producer and writer received the Vantage Award, for his work helping to contextualize and challenge dominant narratives around cinema. When 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture in 2014, McQueen became the first Black filmmaker to have their film win the award.
"What strikes me the most about Steve, yes, is how great he is as an artist," his Widows star, Daniel Kaluuya, said upon presenting him with the honor. "But that is a symptom of how great he is as a man — making it his life's work to shed light in areas that would be ignored without his lens, to walk in integrity as a person, and to always be present and give wisdom for people who ask for his guidance when carving a path of their own."
Here are McQueen's remarks:
I feel very honored to be here with Miky Lee, with Julia Roberts and Tilda Swinton, all those whose work I greatly admire. I want to start off by saying, as we all know, there's a huge divide in the world right now. What we can do as artists and as an industry is to inspire and unite people regardless of their ideologies, their race, their religion, their gender.
Cinema can — and I say, can — be a force for good. And today, more than ever, at any time in recent history, it needs to be reinforced. I remember starting the process of '12 Years a Slave' 11 years ago, and what was so interesting about it was I heard the voices. "Your impossible movie" and how "Black movies or movies with Black leads didn't work internationally." All bets were against us.
But audiences had a different viewpoint, both here and abroad. The power of cinema is life-changing. Therefore, let's go ahead with our endeavors. Let's search. Let's find it. It's somewhere. It's there. You know it. Wait. Take your time. It's going to come. Wait. Inspiration will always arrive. You could be a magnet; it will come to you, be it a comedy, be it a superhero movie, be it a drama, or something new we don't even know yet. What I've learned is there's no such thing as a risk at all.
It's about being true to oneself, regardless of the obstacles and the opposition, as we all know. Not to be morbid, but we're not here for long, are we? What's most important is what we leave behind. What's most important is what we leave behind. Don't forget that. It's not the pounds, it's not the dollars, it's not the euros. It's what we leave behind. We have, in this room, a responsibility, yes, to make wealth, to generate that. And to, you know, hopefully people get a job, and things can go forward. Because, without that, obviously, things don't work. But it's what we leave behind; what we do with it.
Being here at the Academy Museum is a reminder of that, walking around. I'm proud to be a part of this history, and I'm proud to, somehow, if I can, leave a trace of love.
The groundbreaking producer and Academy Museum trustee received the Pillar Award, presented to her by Oscar-nominated producer Jeffrey Katzenberg. "The Pillar Award was created to honor individuals who have demonstrated the highest philanthropy and provided vital support to make this museum the instant icon it has become," Katzenberg said. "There is no one more deserving of this recognition than Miky Lee."
Here are Lee's remarks:
Jeffrey, thank you so much for introducing me to Hollywood decades ago. And again tonight. You have always been my most valuable guide. Jeffrey was the one who encouraged me to try for an Academy membership when there had never been a single Korean nominee for anything. I had no idea I could even apply. He wrote me a recommendation letter and opened the door, and here I am. Thank you.
Hi, everybody. It's such a privilege to be receiving the Pillar Award and celebrating the first anniversary of the Academy Museum. I vividly remember when Dawn Hudson invited me to be part of this huge project. Bill Kramer and she made me feel so welcome. They motivated all of us on the board to continue strengthening the museum's pillars. It's an honor to be recognized when there are so many who deserve it. And congratulations to my fellow honorees — Tilda Swinton, Steve McQueen and Julia Roberts — you are each trade trailblazers, and I'm lucky to be counted among you.
For a large part of my life, I felt like an outsider. I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, but grew up in Korea. I left Seoul in my early 20s to study and work abroad — Boston, New York, Hong Kong and L.A. Then in my 30s, I fell hard for a "boy band" who changed my life — SKG, or better known as Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. They each taught me words I live by. David said, "Miky, it's a people business. It's all about supporting talents." And Steven said, "You have to understand and respect everyone working in it." He often told me many stories about how studio executives were supporting him when he was a young director. And Jeffrey said, "To make all your dreams come true, you have to build a system where creatives can transform ideas into real products, make intangible ideas into the tangible business."
Inspired by them, I headed to Korea in 1995 to try building Hollywood on Han River. And when I met the new generation of Korean directors, actors and musicians, I was excited to apply the wisdom that they taught me. Working with talented young directors like Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho — we were all so young then — was such a joy. When Director Park won Grand Prix at Cannes in 2004 with 'Oldboy,' it was our first thrilling validation that Korean and global could be one and the same.
Later on, we continued the incredible journey around the world with Director Park and Director Bong, with projects like 'Snowpiercer,' 'Parasite' and now 'Decision to Leave.' And, over the last 10 years, I have been promoting Korean film, television and music globally, all while calling L.A. home. This is possible because L.A. embraces artists and supporters like myself, from film and television, music and art, and from every corner to come to the table. In L.A., I found my place and my relevance in the broader world.
I've learned so much from bridge-builders like Michael Govan and Annie Philbin, who actively connect art to the real world with true passion. And artists like Julian Schnabel, who fearlessly explore painting and filmmaking. L.A. is where my words meet. Creative people converge here to collaborate and to challenge each other. My own mission became to be a bridge beyond just East and West, but between talented creators and their dreams, to be a bridge crossing the borders of film, music and art.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures exists to celebrate the revolutionary art form that merged theater, music, design, and technology, and brought art to more people than ever before. Here in L.A. and the Academy Museum, I finally feel at home. Thank you for making all of us feel at home. Thank you.