Before we sit down to watch this year’s star-studded Academy Awards ceremony, we decided to take a look back at some of the most unforgettable acceptance speeches in Oscars history. Some of these are touching, a few are thrilling, and a couple of these are down-right embarrassing to watch. Take a look.
Cuba Gooding Jr (1997)
For such a garrulous character, it’s a shame that best known performance Cuba Gooding Jr ever gave was on the stage of the Shrine Auditorium. Accepting his Best Supporting Actor award for Jerry Maguire, Gooding could barely contain his excitement towards the end of his speech, fighting the swelling tide of the orchestra’s notorious ‘play-off music’.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (1998)
Remember those fresh-faced upstarts Ben Affleck and Matt Damon? Back in 1999, they were the kids who came out of nowhere with their script for Good Will Hunting and ended up winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Who would’ve known that 14 years later, one of these excited young men would be the world’s biggest film star while the other one would become one of Hollywood’s most reliable directors?
Robert Benigni (1999)
The Italian funnyman certainly lived up to his reputation as an entertainer when collecting his award for Best Foreign Picture as the director of Life is Beautiful. Clambering over chairs on the way to the stage, he nearly ended up crushing Steven Spielberg. After delivering an exuberant speech in front of Hollywood’s finest, he was later called up for an encore when he was announced as the year’s Best Actor.
Tom Hanks (1994)
Picking up his first Best Actor award for Philadelphia, The Nicest Man in Hollywoodtm delivered a touching and eloquent speech, thanking his peers and eulogising those who had died in the AIDS epidemic. During his speech, he thanked his gay high school drama teacher (with his blessing). This in turn inspired the film In & Out, about a small-town teacher who gets outed by a former student during an Oscar acceptance speech.
Billy Wilder (1988)
Few people in the history of cinema have deserved a lifetime achievement award more than Billy Wilder. Having co-written and directed the likes of Double Indemnity, The Apartment and Some Like it Hot, he was responsible for creating some of cinema’s most indelible moments. Ever the master storyteller, he accepted the Irving G Thalberg Award at the 1988 Oscars with this moving anecdote about his escape from Nazi Germany.
Marlon Brando (1973)
It’s no secret that Marlon Brando was a bit of an eccentric. In the year that The Godfather swept the Oscars, Brando sent Apache activist Sacheen Littlefeather to accept the Best Actor award in his place. She took to the stage and delivered a protest at the depiction of Native Americans in films. The assembled Hollywood elite was not amused, to say the least. You can even sense Roger Moore raising an eyebrow at some point during this affair.
Nicolas Cage (1996)
Some of you may recall a time when Nicolas Cage was a respected actor in independent films, working with interesting directors like David Lynch and Mike Figgis. When he accepted his Best Actor Oscar for his searing performance in Leaving Las Vegas, his speech was undoubtedly sincere but delivered in a manner that was uniquely Nicolas Cagey.
Angelina Jolie (2000)
Speaking of actors who used to be known for something else: the humanitarian philanthropist wife of Brad Pitt was once a real Hollywood wild child. Best known for strange tabloid antics like carrying Billy Bob Thornton’s blood around with her in a vial, she took the opportunity to declare her undying love for her brother when accepting her Best Supporting Actress award for Girl, Interrupted.
More creepily, she was photographed kissing her bro on the lips after the ceremony. We don’t want to be judgemental here, but that is really weird.
Short and Sweet
Alfred Hitchcock (1968)
The great Alfred Hitchcock never once won a competitive Oscar during his lifetime. Despite having a filmography that includes some of the most enduring thrillers of all time, he was snubbed by the Academy time and time again. Perhaps this is why he kept his acceptance speech for the 1968 Irving G Thalberg Memorial Award very short and very dry.
Joe Pesci (1991)
Perhaps taking his cue from the great Master of Suspense, the normally verbose Pesci kept his remarks brief when collecting the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Goodfellas.
Halle Berry (2002) & Gwyneth Paltrow (1999)
There are few things more uncomfortable than seeing a girl cry in her prom dress. This is probably why these blubbering speeches by Halle Berry and Gwyneth Paltrow are still so hard to watch.
The Oscars will take place this weekend in Los Angeles, California. If you haven’t seen it already, check out Captain Phillips, which is in contention for Best Picture.