Up until a couple of days ago, I never thought I'd see the day when that phrase which litters so many prestige movies' trailers would be attached to notorious French director Jean-Luc Godard. Someone actually asked me if I ever thought he would get an honorary Oscar on my Formspring some months ago and I responded that there was no fucking way the same group who gave Slumdog Millionaire and Titanic their Best Picture award was going to honor the director whose idea of a "mainstream" film is Contempt and Detective. Not only is Godard not mainstream, he doesn't give a shit what the establishment thinks of him. Sounds like the perfect combination to never come within an inch of one. Granted, my guess for this honor is that it has something to do with his Breathless, quite possibly the most important film ever made after Citizen Kane, turning 50 this year (and you know they're cursing themselves that Truffaut isn't still alive because if they were going to honor the anniversary of the French New Wave, he'd be the safer director to go for). Either way, you have to hand it to the Academy for this bold, uncharacteristic move.
Now that The Master has been given this honor, a bigger question remains: will he even bother to show up and accept the award? Given the fact they can't even find the sneaky bastard to tell him the good news, my initial reaction is a big ole Whitney "Hell to the no!" But, then again, you never know. He could make an appearance just to say, "Fuck you" to all the Hollywood bigwigs in attendance. Who knows? If the people who ran this special ceremony where the honorary winners are honored were smart, they'd turn the whole thing into a "Will He or Won't He Show Up?" sort of affair. People can go around collecting bets and they'll be cameras around the building on constant "Godard Watch," hoping to catch a glimpse of him. And when whoever they get to present the award to him (my guess is someone like Martin Scorsese, but I LOVE my friend Joel's suggestion that Reese Witherspoon should present and give a speech about how Tout Va Bien changed her life), they should kill the lights for a minute to heighten the drama. When they come back on, either the stage will be empty or Jean-Luc will be standing there giving the finger to Clint Eastwood and whatever other Hollywood people are there. Sigh. Just when the regular Oscar telecast could have made something fun and fresh with the honorary Oscar, they had to go and make it its own non-televised ceremony.
All kidding aside, I'm fucking stoked that the greatest living director* is finally getting his due, even if its from a conservative, pedestrian awards group. From Nana's dance in Vivre sa vie to the agonizing traffic jam scene in Week End to Michel and Patricia spending an afternoon together in bed in Breathless, Godard has provided some of the most iconic moments of young moviewatching life. Thank you, Academy, whatever your reasons, for rewarding this true iconoclast.
*Not based on his current output, of which I've only seen Notre Musique and didn't understand a minute of it, but because of his pre-Tout Va Bien work.