Film editor Anne Coates, casting director Lynn Stalmaster and documentary film-maker Frederick Wiseman were also awarded statuettes at the Academy's eighth Annual Governors Awards.
The Governors Awards ceremony has also become an early stop on the awards-season campaign trail for 2017 Oscar hopefuls.
However, politics and the 2016 awards took a back seat once the 75-minute ceremony started, with knockout clip montages and verbal tributes to the four honorees.
After over 50 years of entertainment, our favorite gravity defying action star, Jackie Chan, will receive an honorary Academy Award.
Calling the Hong Kong-born star "Jackie "Chantastic" Chan" and comparing him to John Wayne and Buster Keaton, Hanks said it was gratifying to be able to finally acknowledge Chan's extensive work. He ended his brief remarks by thanking his fans.
Stalmaster was visibly moved by his Oscar moment. Only two films from Hong Kong, which boasts a massive film industry where Chan got his start, have ever been nominated in the Academy's best foreign language film category.
There were audible gasps at the spectacular footage from Lawrence of Arabia, part of the tribute to editor Anne Coates, who started out as an assistant on the classic The Red Shoes.
Anne was handed her honorary Oscar by Richard Gere, whose 2002 film Unfaithful she edited.
In the Wiseman clips, a voice marveled that he has made 41 films, he's in his 80s "and he still holds the boom!"
Praising the filmmaker for his unflinching perspective and direct style that includes no interviews or narration, fellow presenter Don Cheadle noted the Wiseman's empathetic eye.
The audience was jam-packed with Hollywood notables who represented a cross-section of Hollywood, from vets like Warren Beatty and Bruce Dern to 21st century game-changers including Ava DuVernay and Megan Ellison.
The evening was attended by Hollywood's elite, including Denzel Washington, Lupita Nyong'o, Nicole Kidman, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Amy Adams and Dev Patel.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says the recipients of its 2016 honorary Oscars have instilled a love of cinema in future filmmakers. He described her as "one of the great giants of our industry".
After two years in a row of all-white acting nominees, the Academy has been grappling with some political issues of its own, with the board of governors passing controversial new rules in January created to foster more diversity.