With CinemaCon coming to a close tonight with its annual Big Screen Achievement Awards, many attendees were finding it difficult to get out of town as a major sand storm grounded planes and caused Las Vegas city officials to issue Do Not Travel advisories. For those driving, visibility in some areas was almost non-existent. At tonight’s awards, the closing act of CinemaCon 2017, there was one star casualty as Get Out director Jordan Peele literally could not GET OUT of Los Angeles to get to Vegas due to grounded planes. Organizers quickly arranged a live satellite appearance so he could accept his Director Of The Year honor.
The other 13 honorees did manage to get to Vegas, or at least stay in Vegas from earlier appearances either today or this week. The prevailing tone of the show and the acceptance speeches was a love of cinema and movie theaters as recipient after recipient recounted their first experiences at the movies.
Although these awards are negotiated with CinemaCon and its chief honcho Mitch Neuhauser and the studios, usually for stars in movies expected in the next few weeks, it was a warm and entertaining affair led off by the irrepressible Goldie Hawn, star of 20th Century Fox’s Mothers Day release Snatched which represents her first film appearance in 14 years. Co-star Amy Schumer, obviously a lifelong fan, presented it to her and Hawn made the night’s most memorable speech. She recounted her first trip to Vegas in 1966 when she came out to be a dancer at the Desert Inn but got a flat tire on the way. A good samaritan who had just returned from service in Vietnam stopped to help her. It informed her view of humanity, and of course, fond memories of this gambling town. Schumer seemed genuinely thrilled to be on stage with this year’s winner of the Cinema Icon Award. “It’s f*cking Goldie Hawn. She is the kind of performer who has you laughing, and then just a second later she has you crying and you are on this whole journey with her. There’s a moment in our film where she dances alone, and I swear we all just stopped on the set and it just knocked the wind out of us because it was just so joyful. And during this time you are just so grateful for these moments where you can just stop and say, ‘This person has made me so happy my whole life’,” she said in bringing Hawn on.
After recounting her adventures in Vegas as a dancer some 50 years ago, Hawn flashed forward to tell what this all means at this point. “I think when you look at what makes an icon, you look back on this journey. And this journey was one of uncertainty, of tenacity, of fearlessness, and a journey that taught me you can’t always go it alone. There are people if you are open and trusting that can help you get exactly where you need to go. And that is exactly what we do. And that’s why the people that put us in front of the cameras, the directors, the writers, and also those who see movies, like you that have movie houses, that allow us to be other people, to be able to play in a field and everyone who is lucky enough to be blessed enough to express ourselves in our greatest way. So I say that if you are fearless, you are trusting, that you have tenacity, and if you like people and if you work in unison with others you too can be an icon.”
Female Star Of The Year Jessica Chastain told of her first experience at the movies going to see The Goonies. Ansel Elgort talked about scoring with a girl at the AMC Lowes in NYC but quickly assured execs from Regal and Cinemark that he made out in their theaters as well. “And as for IMAX, I don’t even want to tell you what happened there,” the Male Star of Tomorrow said. Vanguard Award winner Salma Hayek waxed nostalgic about seeing movies in the rundown theater in her small town in Mexico where rats would run down the aisles, but it didn’t matter. “We just kept our feet off the ground when they would come because we knew the cat would be following momentarily,” she laughed.
Male Star of the Year Charlie Hunnam talked about the small theater he used to go to in England and how if he ever became a rich movie star he would come back and revive it. “I’m not a rich movie star yet but one of these days I will do it,” he promised the exhibitors. International Achievement In Comedy winner Eugenio Derbrez grabbed his award afraid they had made a mistake. “This is really for me and not for Moonlight, right?” he said to big laughs for the reference to Oscar night’s big debacle. Comedy Star of the Year winner Kumail Nanjuani talked about his own sexual conquests at the movies. “Remember before Netflix you could actually get to first base at AMC, second base at Regal and a hand job at Cinemark,” he said getting a big knowing response from the Cinemark managers in the crowd.
And with that another CinemaCon is over and these theater owners are ready for Summer.
HERE ARE THE WINNERS:
Cinema Icon Award: Goldie Hawn
Breakthrough Performer Of The Year: Brenton Thwaites
Producer of the Year: Chris Meledandri
Rising Star Of The Year: Isabela Moner
Director Of the Year: Jordan Peele
Distinguished Decade of Achievement Of Film: Naomi Watts
International Achievement In Comedy: Eugenio Derbrez
Action Star of the Year: Jon Cena
Male Star Of Tomorrow: Ansel Elgort
Female Star Of Tomorrow: Sofia Boutella
Comedy Star of the Year: Kumail Nanjiani
CinemaCon Vanguard Award: Salma Hayek
Male Star Of the Year: Charlie Hunnam
Female Star Of The Year: Jessica Chastain