Peter Weir becomes first Australian filmmaker awarded with honorary Oscar

He’d been nominated for six Academy Awards throughout his 43-year tenure

Although he informally retired in 2010, Peter Weir has added an Academy Award to his sprawling list of accolades, with the Australian icon gifted an honorary title at this year’s Governors Awards.

Weir was one of three recipients of the 2022 Academy Honorary Award, alongside Diane Warren and Euzhan Palcy; Michael J. Fox was also honoured with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. According to The Guardian, Weir’s moment in the ceremony – which took place on Saturday (November 19) – was flanked by filmed tributes from Harrison Ford and Colin Farrell, who pleaded with the auteur to link up with them for a comeback film.

In a statement shared by outgoing Academy president David Rubin, Weir was described as “a director of consummate skill and artistry whose work reminds us of the power of film to reveal the full range of human experience”.

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Accepting the award himself, Weir reflected on his halcyon days in the 1970s, when Australia’s film efforts were only just burgeoning in the international mainstream. He said of the era: “We knew nothing. but we were determined. We had no older generation that we could sit at the feet of. There was no one to tell you you were wrong.”

With the award, Weir has become the first Australian filmmaker to receive an honorary Oscar. He’d been nominated for six of the main awards across his 43-year tenure, but never actually took home a statue.

Weir’s first Oscar nod came in 1986, when he was nominated for Best Director at the hand of Harrison Ford vehicle Witness. He was nominated for the same award again in 1990 (for Dead Poets Society), 1999 (The Truman Show) and 2004 (Master And Commander), with the lattermost film also earning a Best Picture Nomination. In 1991, too, he earned a nod for Best Original Screenplay with Green Card.

Weir’s directorial debut was 1971’s Homesdale. He minted a further 13 films as a director, with his last being The Way Back in 2010. That came after a lengthy hiatus, with seven years separating it from Master And Commander.

His retirement was never formally announced, but in a recent interview with IndieWire, Ethan Hawke said: “I think [Weir] lost interest in movies. He really enjoyed that work when he didn’t have actors giving him a hard time. Russell Crowe and Johnny Depp broke him.”

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