The Governors Awards, the honorary portion of the Academy Awards, kicked off the Oscar season Saturday night while honoring Francis Ford Coppola, the director of The Godfather films, and others among Hollywood's greatest.
Robert De Niro sang Coppola's praises while Coppola recieved the Irving G. Thalberg Award for producing, USA Today reported.
"Seriously Francis, thank you for the career-making break you gave me in The Godfather II," De Niro said. "You're an inspiration and one of my biggest influences."
"Now that we're going up for the same parts, I hope we can remain friends," De Niro, 67, joked while helping present an honorary Oscar to actor Eli Wallach, who turns 95 next month.
Clint Eastwood, 80, recalled that Wallach is one of two living stars from the 1966 movie The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, starring Eastwood himself, the New York Times reported.
French Filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard was presented with an honorary Oscar, although he has been previously ignored by the academy. He has repeatedly denounced Hollywood and has made some controversial comments that have been perceived as anti-Jewish, the New York Times reported.
"He didn't just break the rules, he ran them over with a stolen car," Phil Alden Robinson, a screenwriter for films including Field of Dreams and who suggested that Godard be honored, the New York Times reported.
"Let's be honest, you have said things that have offended pretty much everyone in this room, at least once," Robinson said. "You have also said really snarky things about Hollywood and the Oscars ... but then again, so has everyone in this room, at least once."
Godard was not there to accept his award, so Tom Sherak, the academy's president, said he planned to personally deliver it to Godard in Switzerland, the New York Times reported.
The event used to be a part of the broadcasted ceremony, but became a separate event last year to cut down on the usually drawn-out telecast and to allow for more time to honor recipients.