Hollywood is putting on the glitz as 2010 rolls in, with a barrage of trophy-saturated red-carpet events, concluding with the grand-daddy of them all, the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7, airing on ABC.
Building up to the Oscars are the 67th annual Golden Globes (January 17 on NBC) and the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (January 23 on TNT and TBS). Already there have been numerous critics honors putting the spotlight on the current darlings who have the town buzzing or arguing about the choices. But no one can dispute the well-deserved honorary Oscar® bestowed upon filmmaker Roger Corman.
Getting a jump on the other awards celebrations, the International Press Academy presented their 14th annual Satellite Awards last week. It was held at the Inter-Continental Hotel, Century City with IPA’s president, Mirjana Van Blaricom, and vice president, Michael Szymanski, presiding over the elegant affair. It was made even more special by the presence of honorees actor Michael York, cinematographer Roger Deakins and the amazing Roger Corman. Mirjana praised them all “for their immense contribution to the industry” but it seems that was Corman’s big night, as he picked up IPA’s Auteur Award—everyone had a great story about the legendary filmmaker.
For about 50 years as producer/director/writer/film distributor, Corman has made more than 300 films. In the mix were some classics and cult hits such as “The Little Shop of Horrors,” “It Conquered the World,” “Masque of the Red Death,” “House of Usher,” “The Trip” and the biker-chic “The Wild Angels.” With his New Horizons Pictures, he is busy producing projects for the Syfy Channel, the super-gator thriller “Dinocroc,” following up with “Dinoshark” and “Octoshark” on his slate. Recently on the big screen was the action-packed “Death Race,” another great popcorn-movie which is his specialty, not usually the kind of films that get Oscar attention.
Regarding his professional accomplishments, I wanted to know what stands out as his greatest achievement. Corman insisted that he was proud of his entire body of work. “I’m proud of the films I have made. There are those of some significance but I can’t single out one particular picture—just the body of work which represents a lifetime of supporting independent filmmaking.” For that, he has earned his honorary Oscar.
So I had to ask him: what does getting the honorary Oscar mean to him? Corman told me he has already received it at a special ceremony. “The Oscar means recognition of the various things I’ve done. But what is more important was that at the Governors’ Ball, there were so many of the guys and women who had started with me, that it was almost like a private party. And I just enjoyed the fact that we were all together again, just laughing and talking about things that we had all done together. When all is done, it’s the work itself. It’s really the pleasure you get in creating something with a group of talented people. Of course it’s nice to get the Oscar; I’m not going to knock that.”
There are many Oscar winners and industry icons that got their start on the low budget films that are referred to as “The Roger Corman School of Filmmaking.” Over the years, Roger has launched the careers of dozens of talented young wannabes who evolved into Hollywood greats, such as Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Gale Anne Hurd, Peter Bogdanovich, Joe Dante, John Sayles, Jonathan Demme, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, and James Cameron—an infinitum. And he continues his legacy of mentoring new filmmakers, ready to take their place among his esteemed group of directors, producers and stars who got their start with “the godfather of cinema today.”
On hand for the IPA celebration was Bryan Cranston, who was honored for his ultra-impressive work on the AMC’s Best Drama Series “Breaking Bad.” Even Cranston said one of his earliest jobs was on a Roger Corman picture and Michael York, honored with IPA’s Mary Pickford Award, is also an alumnus. Among the many notables at the event were Fionnula Flanagan, Katherine Boecher (soon to be seen in “The Spy Next Door” with Jackie Chan and George Lopez), the great “Hurt Locker” film editors Chris Innis and Bob Murawski, “Up in the Air” composer Rolfe Kent, and producer/director Nicholas Eliopoulos who got a Satellite honor for his “Mary Pickford—Muse of the Movies” upcoming documentary. Co-hosts for the awards were Kendra Munger and Steven Connor, making the IPA event lovely and classy.