updated 11/17/2013 AT 10:15 AM ET
•originally published 11/17/2013 AT 11:00 AM ET
Also taking home honorary Oscars at the fifth annual Governors Awards were Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin (who choked up during his acceptance speech), and Italian costume designer Piero Tosi, who was unable to attend.
“My family, my love, your love and support make everything possible,” said a clearly emotional Jolie, 38, who attended the event with fiancé Brad Pitt and eldest son Maddox. “Mad, and your brothers and sisters, there is no greater honor than being your mom.”
Marcheline Bertrand, who died of ovarian cancer in 2007, was never far from Jolie’s mind on a night that honored the actress’s humanitarian efforts with the UN Refugee Agency, Doctors Without Borders and Global Action for Children.
“My mom loved art,” said the actress, who flew in from directing Unbroken in Australia. “She wanted for [brother James Haven] and I to have the life of an artist.”
Jolie added, “She believed nothing would mean anything if you didn’t lead a life that was of use to others.”