Ridley Scott was awarded the 30th American Cinematheque Award on Friday night at the Beverly Hills Hilton.
Russell Crowe hosted the event, kicking off the festivities on a topical note by saying, "Good evening, American Cinematheque. Let's grab tonight by the pussy."
The Australian actor, who was referencing Donald Trump's 2005 Access Hollywood comments, then asked audience members to raise their hands if they were registered to vote and then implored them to do so.
Crowe then launched into a lengthy praise of Scott, who began his artistic endeavors as a painter and a graphic designer before getting into commercial directing.
"A day on set with Ridley sometimes feels more productive than a week on someone else's," said Crowe. "He not only knows the language of film, but he knows how to speak every part of it. He can speak camera, grip, gaffer, hair, makeup, sound - all of it. And he is getting better at speaking actor."
The now-knighted helmer's big break came with the space-set thriller Alien. He has been nominated for four Oscars, including three for his work from the director's chair on Thelma & Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down. At the 2015 Academy Awards, his latest feature, The Martian, was up for best picture.
Scott currently is working on the sequel to his futuristic sci-fi classic Blade Runner. Blade Runner 2049 will see the return of Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, alongside franchise newcomers Ryan Gosling and Robin Wright. "As you know, I can't be there tonight because I am in Budapest, working on your movie," said Ford in a pre-taped video message.
The night featured several supercuts of clips from Scott's films, presented by the actors who have worked with him, including Josh Hartnett, Kristen Wiig, Katherine Waterston and Sigourney Weaver, who reminisced about her time on the Alien set and her landmark character, Ridley.
"I have been asked all over the world if we knew we were making a feminist film and 'Was it intentional?'" she said. "Well, yeah. It was a given for Ridley that women were supremely capable, smart, courageous and resourceful."
The American Cinematheque, established in 1981, is a nonprofit that focuses of moving picture exhibition, including the operation of the historic 1922 Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Past winners of the American Cinematheque award include Reese Witherspoon, Samuel L. Jackson, George Clooney and Michael Douglas.
Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing and distribution at Warner Bros., also was honored at the event with the 2nd annual Sid Grauman Award. Out on the red carpet before the event, Kroll told The Hollywood Reporter that "people don't always know how things accumulate behind the scenes to get people's butts into the theaters, so this is truly a tremendous recognition and so meaningful."
Director Christopher Nolan, who has worked with Kroll on the worldwide marketing campaigns for such films of his as The Dark Knight and Inception, took the stage to honor the marketing head.
"There's an incredibly vulnerable moment for any director when the lights come on during your first screening, and if there is one reason that those moments have been a little less lonely in the last 15 years, it is because of Sue Kroll, because I have always had an ally there," he said.
A video montage of talent, both from behind and in front of the camera, played in Kroll's honor and included congratulations and well-wishes from the likes of Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, George Miller, Clint Eastwood and Sandra Bullock, who praised Kroll's intellect and fashion sense.
Bradley Cooper presented the Sid Grauman award to the exec, saying, "She is an artist, plain and simple."
The Martian star Matt Damon, who received the American Cinematheque award in 2010, closed out the evening's tributes, presenting Scott with the award. "It was one of the great privileges of my life to work with Ridley," said the actor. "To be able to sit next to you and hit you with questions and you being patient enough to answer them has been one of the great honors of my life."
At the end of the night, Scott finally took the stage to thank his childhood school master who told him to pursue the visual arts, which started off his now decades-long career that began with a 30-minute short film titled Boy and a Bicycle, starring his late younger brother, Tony Scott, then just 14 years old.
Scott said: "We both didn't realize at the time that we had found a lifelong profession for us both. It was our passion, and if you've got passion, you can work 160 hours a week and not even feel it."
The filmmaker concluded: "Our industry is not for the weak of heart."