Kathleen Kennedy to Receive Honorary Oscar: What That Means

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy will be the first woman ever to receive the Irving G. Thalberg award this year, which is an honorary Academy Award for production achievement. Kathleen Kennedy and her husband, Frank Marshall, are being honored for their “body of work” in the film industry that “reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production.” But many are left wondering how she is able to receive such an honor.

Kennedy’s film career has been long and storied, but it didn’t start out that way. Kathleen’s first major introduction to the industry was actually as Stephen Spielberg’s assistant on the set of 1941. Both Stephen and Kathleen agreed that she was an awful typist, but Spielberg kept her close for her great production ideas. Soon after that, Kennedy was credited as “Associate to Spielberg” in Raiders of the Lost Ark. She would go on to produce 39 films, including: Jurassic Park, The Sixth Sense, Twister, Ponyo, and E.T., just to name a few.

Some may discredit Kathleen Kennedy for the direction Star Wars has taken now that she has been put in charge of Lucasfilm. However, at a base level, she has been instrumental in creating blockbuster after blockbuster under the Star Wars banner – starting with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) grossing $2.03 Billion dollars in the box office.

So what exactly are the requirements for receiving an Honorary Oscar? As stated by the official Academy Award rules, “This award shall be given to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.” Under these guidelines, it is clear that Kathleen should be given this honor. But as a Star Wars fans, how should we perceive this?

Whether you like Kathleen Kennedy or not, such an award being given to the head of Lucasfilm is great for Star Wars as a whole. For years, our fandom may have been looked down on as a subculture, but time and time again film institutions recognize this franchise for what it is – movie magic. Like George Lucas before her (Lucas received an Honorary Oscar in 1991) Kathleen can spearhead the franchise we love into further success and recognition from the masses.

If you don’t fully agree with my outlook on the direction of Lucasfilm, listen to my podcast Chatter Squadron for a Devil’s advocate approach to the Disney buyout. We cover all the negative effects that it may contain in the episode here.

Written by Tyler Bucks