Top 10 Best and Worst Oscar Speeches

From the eloquent to the downright bumbling, here are the top 10 best and worst Oscar speeches ever
Wednesday , 23 February 2011
Top 10 Best and Worst Oscar Speeches
Actress Kate Winslet speaks on stage after winning the Best Actress award for "The Reader" during the 81st Annual Academy Awards held at Kodak Theatre on February 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.

The Best...
 

1. Cute camaraderie
Who: Ben Affleck Matt Damon
Award: Best Screenplay for Good Will Hunting
Why? As their first screenplay, winning an Oscar was not something Matt or Ben expected. So, when winning the award the sheer elation on Matt’s face became an instant hit on Youtube. The shocked friends walked in a daze to the stage where Ben was first to the mic: “I said to Matt losing would suck and winning would be really scary. It’s really, really scary. We’re just really two young guys who were fortunate enough to be involved with really great people whom its come upon us to – there’s no way we’re doing this in less than 20 seconds – it’s come upon us to thank.”

2. Best of British
Who: Kate Winslet
Award: Best Actress for The Reader
Why? Ricky Gervais joked to Kate, “Well done, Winslet. I told you, do a Holocaust movie and the awards come.” Yet, despite the cheeky wisecrack, Kate accepted the award with her trademark British charm. The actress nervously stuttered, “I’d be lying if I haven’t made a version of this speech before, I think I was probably about eight-years-old in front of the bathroom mirror, and this would have been a shampoo bottle. Well it’s not a shampoo bottle now.” She jokingly ended, “I think we all can’t believe we were in the category along with Meryl Streep at all! I’m sorry Meryl, but you have to just suck that up.”

3. Historical significance
Who: Sidney Poitier
Award: Best Actor for Lilies Of The Field
Why? Lasting just 20 seconds Sidney kept his speech short and sweet, mainly because he didn’t have a speech prepared as he didn’t expect to win. The 1964 Oscar ceremony went down in history as Sidney was the first African-American to win an Academy Award. In his succinct speech, he tearfully said, “It’s a long journey to this moment. I am indebted to countless numbers of people. To all of them all I say a very special thank-you.” Thirty Eight years later he received an Honorary Award. For this he was prepared and reminisced over his battle against the odds in Hollywood.

4. Grace elegance
Who: Vivien Leigh
Award: Best Actress forGone With The Wind
Why? This 1930s beauty was the epitome of pure class. After sashaying onto the stage she delivered one of the most eloquent speeches ever spoken on live TV. “Please forgive me if my words are inadequate in thanking you for your very great kindness,” she started in a low, authoritative, yet sexy whisper. “If I were to mention all those who showed me such wonderful generosity through Gone With The Wind, I should have to entertain you with an oration as long as Gone With The Wind itself…” Her faultless delivery makes Elizabeth II’s Christmas speech seem amateur.

5. The humbler
Who: Al Pacino
Award: Best Actor for Scent Of A Woman
Why? Whether he’s a gangster, a blind man or the devil, Al Pacino is one of the most convincing actors to date. His skills as an artiste are known to all but less so to Al himself – the screen legend’s genuinely shocked reaction to his win was humbling. Modestly grinning and scratching his head like Laurel and Hardy, the audience were so excited for him he received a long standing ovation. Nervous Al read his speech from a prepared note, which shook timidly in his shaking hands.

6. Defiant
Who: Dustin Hoffman
Award: Best Actor for Kramer Vs. Kramer
Why? In the 1970s Dustin Hoffman famously criticised the Oscars. So, on accepting his award he appeared awkward, yet ever the pro he started with a joke about the statue, “He has no genitalia and he is holding a sword.” Before continuing, “I’m up here with mixed feelings. I’ve been critical of the Academy and for reason.” Rather than apologise, the star went on to explain: “We’re laughed at when we’re up here, for thanking, but when you work on a film, you discover there are people giving that artistic part of themself that goes beyond a pay cheque.”

7. Tear-jerker
Who: Jamie Foxx
Award: Best Actor for Ray
Why? After seven “Wows” Jamie got the crowd to sing back to him a la Ray Charles before making them cry when he emotionally acknowledged his family: “I wanna thank my daughter who told me ‘if you don’t win dad, don’t worry ‘cos you’re still good.’” He then choked-up as he began talking about his first acting teacher – his grandma. “She always said ‘act like you’ve been somewhere’. And when I fooled around she whooped me. She could win an Oscar for how good she whooped me. She still talks to me now, only in my dreams. And I can’t wait to go to sleep tonight, we have a lot to talk about. I love you.”

8. Star-struck
Who: Whoopi Goldberg
Award: Best Supporting Actress for Ghost
Why? Whoopi revealed her unpretentious nature when she became starstruck in front of a room full of her idols and gushed: “As a little kid, I lived in the projects and you’re the people I watched. You’re the people who made me want to be an actor. I’m so very proud to be here.”

9. Most moving
Who: Mickey Rooney
Award: Honorary Oscar
Why? The former wild child chose his Oscar stage as a platform to reminisce about his route to stardom. His honest tale of how he once felt abandoned by the cut-throat entertainment industry, reminded the A-list crowd how fickle it can all be – “When I was 19 I was the number one star of the world for two years; when I was 40, nobody wanted me.”

10. Long deserved
Who: John Wayne
Award: Best Actor for True Grit
Why? John Wayne started acting in 1926 but it wasn’t until 1969 that he won an Oscar for his role as an one-eyed, patch wearing US Marshall. Clearly surprised it’d taken so long to get an award – especially with his iconic status – the Western star quipped, “Wow! If I’d have known that, I would’ve put that patch on 35 years earlier.”

 

The Worst...
 

1. Most embarrasing
Who: Gwyneth Paltrow
Award: Best Actress for Shakespeare In Love
Why? We don’t know what was worse, Gwyn’s gelled, off-trend hairstyle, the over-sized dress or the embarrassing hysterical reaction. The usually composed actress was all slobbering tears, OTT hyperventilating, and crying far too loudly. When she delivered her speech, or rather screech, it was so high-pitched it was only audible to dogs.

2. Egotistical
Who: James Cameron
Award: Best Director for Titanic
Why? The legendary director’s win was always a sure thing with Titanic having already scooped a number of awards at the Golden Globes. And with the film’s constant accolades and praises it was really no surprise that James Cameron’s ego was somewhat elated leaving him to conclude what would’ve been a composed and mature speech with, “I’m the King Of The World.” Note to Cameron: Narcissism isn’t attractive!

3. Gross alert
Who: Angelina Jolie
Award: Best Supporting Actress for Girl Interrupted
Why? Before Ange went down the saintly route, adopting kids from around the globe, donating to charity and trying to secure world peace, yada, yada, yada… she was known for her dark sado-masochistic behaviour – cutting ex partners with knives and keeping blood in vials. Yet, just when her mysterious behaviour was starting to become commonplace in Hollywood she had to go and spoil it all by freaking us out when not only snogging her brother on the red carpet but declaring her love for him when accepting her balddie. Yuk!

4. Oh purlease!
Who: Halle Berry
Award: Best Actress for Monster’s Ball
Why? Halle had obviously taken notes from Ms Paltrow for her blithering performance – it’s no wonder Gwynnie was smiling, she was over-the-moon someone had reacted worse than her. Halle’s win made her the first African-American woman to win an Oscar for a leading role so it was endearing that she noted, “This moment’s so much bigger than me.” And while this was all very modest it was the rest of the hysterical and breathy speech that became infamous.

5. Oscar bore
Who: Sir Laurence Olivier
Award: Honorary Award
Why? There’s no doubting that Laurence Olivier is an eloquent man. He could read the entire phone directory and make it sound all so dramatic with his deep booming voice. However, his 1979 Oscar acceptance was far too complex and enigmatic enough to move the audience. While Jon Voight looked bemused, Diane Keaton was completely uninterested. The actor waffled, elegantly of course, “In the great wealth, the great firmament of your nations’ generosity this particular choice may perhaps be found by future generations as a trifle eccentric. But the mere fact of it, the prodigal, pure human kindness of it, must be seen as a beautiful star in that firmament...” ZZzzzzz!

6. Sheer tenacity
Actor: Cuba Gooding Jr.
Award: Best Supporting Actor for Jerry Maguire
Why? No doubt thanks to Sir Laurence Olivier’s rambling monologue, producers of the Oscars had asked winning stars to cut short their speech. Cuba however must have lost his memo as the star remained on stage during, and after, the obvious “please leave now” music. The actor bellowed and fist-pumped his way through a long list of names, giving thanks to his idols, co-stars and producers. The laughing crowd didn’t mind... Where is he now?

7. Uh, uh, uh...
Actor: Jonathan Demme
Award: Best Director for Silence Of The Lambs
Why? Jonathan may be an awesome director – other hits include Philadelphia and Rachel Getting Married – but he will always be known as the man who utter the word “uh” 40 times in less than five minutes – surely a record that not even Hugh ‘uh’ Grant could beat. Uh, better luck next time Jon.

8. Doh! moment
Who: Cher
Award: Best Actress for Moonstruck
Why? While it was all very sweet for Cher to reference all the small people behind the major film production, it still would’ve been a good idea to have also given a shout out to the big people who made the actual film happen. But no, Cher forgot to check her prioritises when she excitedly rambled, “I’d like to thank everyone I worked with on the movie. They were really fabulous. It was really a great experience for me. My make-up man, who had a lot to work with. My hairdresser. My assistant…” Basically everyone apart from her co-stars and director got a nod. Realising her huge mistake, the next day, the singer took out a full-page ad in Variety thanking the director. Phew!

9. Most irritating
Who: Julia Roberts
Award: Best Actress for Erin Brockovich
Why? OK, so she wasn’t flashing hairy armpits but Julia still annoyed the audience with her seemingly endless hyena-esque laughing while in front of the mic. And as if that wasn’t irritating enough – she hadn’t said a good joke to even warrant a giggle – she then referred to the show’s orchestra conductor as the stick man! Nice way to woo the fans Jules.

10. On and on and on...
Who: Adrien Brody
Award: Best Actor for The Pianist
Why? Adrien proved himself to be a real ladies' man when he jumped on stage and snogged an unexpecting Halle Berry, who gave out his award. The rest of the speech may have been sentimental, but he droned on for nearly five minutes and while he got a standing ovation towards the end we’re sure it was more of an attempt to get him off stage.

 

Related Articles

Who was the first to curse at last night’s awards?