He’s most famous for “Bonnie and Clyde” and his trail of massive flops, like “Ishtar” and “Dick Tracy,” and tons of totally forgetable crap where he didn’t act as much as play himself over and over again yet somebody thinks he deserves to be ranked along with Elton John, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, not to mention Joan Sutherland and John Williams and receive a Kennedy Center Honor for 2004? How did that happen?
From what I understand, a more reasonable question would be, “Who didn’t he sleep with?”
I am no great fan of Warren Beatty. In fact, if I disliked him much more, it could be said I detest him. I think he’s conceited, manipulative, smug, arrogant, and in some ways, dishonest. But to give credit where due, he has made many films, some quite ambitious, that have been given a lot of weight in the film industry.
His flops have been big and his hits have been big. But, given the fact that public acceptance of any film is a hit or miss business at best, the fact that some of his movies are flops probably doesn’t impact much on how he’s regarded as an actor and film maker.
He’s a better actor, I think, than you give him credit for (Have you seen Bugsy, for example?). And the production values in his films are always superb.
Plus, Hollywood seems to have a special appreciation for pretty boys who are nonetheless smart, ambitious and driven, and who strive to do important work when they could otherwise coast on their looks and charm. Say what you will about Beatty, but he’s smart, hard-working and ambitious, and he’s an acheiver.
I think others have been honored at the Kennedy Center who deserved it less.
Let me 'splain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up.
1 Oscar (Best Director, Reds, 1982)
3 Golden Globes (Best Director, Reds, 1982; Best Motion Picture Actor - Musical/Comedy Heaven Can Wait, 1978; Most Promising Newcomer - Male, 1962)
3 Writers Guild awards (Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen, Reds with Trevor Griffiths, 1982; Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium, Heaven Can Wait, with Elaine May, 1979; Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen
Shampoo, with Robert Towne, 1976)
1 American Movie Award (Special Marquee, Reds, 1982)
3 BAFTA nominations
1 Blockbuster Award (World Artist Award, 2001)
1 Chicago Film Critics Association nomination
1 Costume Designers Guild Award (Distinguished Director, 2001)
1 David di Donatello Award - (Best Producer - Foreign Film (Migliore Produttore Straniero), Reds, 1982)
1 Directors Guild of America award (Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Reds, with Simon Relph and Michael Green, 1982
1 Golden Satellite nomination
1 Hasty Pudding Theatrical award (Man of the Year, 1975)
2 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards (Best Screenplay, Bulworth, with Jeremy Pikser and Brian Helgeland, 1982; Best Director, Reds, 1981)
1 MTV Award nomination
3 National Board of Review Awards (Special Citation, 1998; Best Actor, Bugsy, 1991; Best Director, Reds, 1981)
1 National Society of Film Critics Award (Best Screenplay, Shampoo, with Robert Towne, 1975)
1 PGA Golden Laurel Award (Milestone Award, 2004)
1 San Francisco Internationl Film Festival Award (Akira Kurosawa Award, 2002)
1 San Sebastián International Film Festival (Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award, 2001)
2 Venice Film Festival Awards (Golden Lion, Bulworth, 1999; Career Golden Lion, 1999)
He coined the phrase, “What’s New Pussycat?” That should be enough.