Honoree Tom Hanks Addresses the Nation in His Speech at the MoMA Film Benefit

Honoree Tom Hanks Addresses the Nation in His Speech at the MoMA Film Benefit
Nicholas Hunt/WireImage

Aaron Eckhart said it best: "Whenever anyone in the world thinks of a box of chocolates, a volleyball, crying in baseball, Tom Hanks and his beautiful mug pops up in their mind." It's true. And it's for that reason—Tom Hanks's memorable performances in iconic films—and more that he and his beautiful mug were honored at last night's MoMA Film Benefit Presented by Chanel. It was an evening packed with Hanks's colleagues, closest friends, family, and greatest admirers, some of whom paid tribute to the Academy Award-winning actor through digital (like Oprah Winfrey and Ron Howard) and IRL (or as one person joked, "analog") speeches.

"For over 100 years, when our country has faced times of turmoil, we’ve looked to cinema and its heroes for comfort and inspiration and reassurance," said Rajendra Roy, chief curator of film at MoMA, during his opening speech. "Charlie Chaplin gave us his comedic genius, Barbara Stanwyck gave us her determined strength, John Wayne gave us grit, Sidney Poitier gave us ability to face adversity. Tom Hanks somehow manages to give us all these things. He is the cinematic hero we need now."

Emma Watson spoke of his generosity, wisdom, and support, and what it was like working alongside him in The Circle. Comedian Steve Martin deadpanned a facetious monologue that had the crowd roaring in laughter. And Eckhart revealed what Hanks has done that every actor strives to achieve: "To reinvent yourself over and over. He's never content to recycle characters. Tom continues to challenge himself with iconic performances, and he does all of this while being the undisputed nicest guy in Hollywood." 

And finally after a reel of Hanks's best hits, the man of the hour took to the stage. "It’s odd to look at your life flash before your eyes and not be dead," he joked, before going into his craft, what it takes to be an actor, and then ending on a more somber, but uplifting note: "We are one week into a different era for the world and for the nation. We can always turn to film, and no matter what era they were made in, they reflect who we are and the things we hold dear. America has been at worse places than we are right now. We are going to be all right."

Scroll through to see who else showed up to lend their support. 

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