If director Ridley Scott didn’t get his fill of lifetime achievement recognition during last year’s awards season, when his film “The Martian” was on a crash course with Oscar night, the American Cinematheque was ready and willing to oblige.
The org honored Scott with its 30th annual honor Friday night. Actor Russell Crowe served as host of the evening’s festivities.
“At this point it’s very clear that Ridley Scott is a filmmaker with the talent to do anything he wants in any genre you care to mention,” Crowe said. “From film noir to fantasy, from comedy to crime, from period pieces to the distant future, this man can do it all … He not only knows the language of film, he speaks all of its dialects. He speaks camera, editing, grip, gaffer, hair, makeup, all of those things — and he’s getting better at speaking actor.”
A roll call of friends and collaborators, including Josh Hartnett, Sigourney Weaver, Katherine Waterston, Ben Kingsley, Kristen Wiig and Noomi Rapace took the stage throughout the evening to offer personal anecdotes. Matt Damon presented Scott with the award.
As he often does in these circumstances, Scott looked back to his art school upbringing when it was his turn to respond to the outpouring of love and respect.
“I was almost dyslexic to anything but that which was visual,” Scott said, recalling how poor a student he was until he took on graphic design as a chosen subject at London’s Royal College of Art.
“I had this intuition about film,” he said. “I didn’t know how in the hell I was going to get there, but I figured maybe set design would bring me that much closer.”
He recalled finding a Bolex camera and a light meter in a corner cupboard and setting out to make his first short film, called “Boy and Bicycle.” It was a story nicely teed up earlier in the evening when Crowe presented a clip from that film.
The evening was jammed with clip packages breaking out the many themes of Scott’s work, including strong heroines (“Alien,” “Thelma & Louise,” “G.I. Jane”), fields of battle (“Gladiator,” “Black Hawk Down,” “Kingdom of Heaven”) and the science-fiction realm (“Blade Runner,” “Prometheus,” “The Martian”).
Waterston presented Scott’s groundbreaking “1984” commercial for the Apple Macintosh — which aired only once, during the Super Bowl, that year. It was an apt inclusion, given that Scott shared the evening with Warner Bros. marketing guru Sue Kroll, who received the American Cinematheque’s second annual Sid Grauman Award.
Christopher Nolan and Bradley Cooper were on hand to honor the studio’s worldwide marketing and distribution president, who was also toasted by a litany of stars in a video package that included Ben Affleck, Sandra Bullock and Clint Eastwood, among countless others.
Many of their sentiments revolved around Kroll’s role in transforming the standard of film marketing throughout her career, and in particular crafting campaigns that speak to the voice of films and filmmakers.
“Marketing means different things to different people, but I’ve always approached it as an art form,” she said. “Even in this data-driven world, marketing needs to be grounded in instinct and intuition. At its best, a creative campaign comes from the gut and it makes a direct connection to the hearts and minds of the moviegoer.”
Kroll spoke about finding her passion for film through her parents and working closely with filmmakers like the late Curtis Hanson. But in doing some research prior to the event, she also caught an interesting parallel between herself and the namesake of her honor.
“[Grauman] marketed boxing matches on his way to Hollywood, and for me it was wrestling on cable,” she said. “Close enough.”