Some people watch the Academy Awards to see which films and actors are recognized as the year’s best; others like to watch the celebs walk the red carpet. However, some of us watch the show for the sometimes awkward, funny, and sometimes touching acceptance speeches. Here are five memorable acceptance speeches from Oscar history that cover all three of those categories … and then some.
5. Halle Berry – Monster’s Ball (2002)
Even before she left her seat to accept her award for Best Actress, Halle was overcome with emotion and seemingly shock at her win. Once she made it to the podium the emotions and tears just flowed from her. Struggling through her tears Berry said, “I am so honored, and I want to thank the Academy for making me the vessel from which this blessing may flow.” A bit heavy-handed, yes, but I dare you to watch this speech without getting a little emotional and teary-eyed yourself.
4. Joe Pesci – Goodfellas (1991)
Joe Pesci usually plays fast-talking characters in his movies, but in real life he is apparently a man of few words. When accepting his Oscar, Pesci only had five words: “It’s my privilege, thank you.” Could this be the shortest acceptance speech in Oscar history? By most accounts it is.
3. Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook (2013)
And the award for most awkward speech in recent history goes to … Jennifer Lawrence. After she tripped on her way to the stage, Lawrence went on to awkwardly thank everyone except the director of the film. In true “J-Law” style, she later released a witty but enduring statement thanking the film’s director, David O. Russell, and its producer, Harvey Weinstein, blaming the omission on a “brain fart.”
2. Roberto Benigni – Life Is Beautiful (1999)
When Robert Benigni accepted his Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, he ran out into the audience and danced across chairs while telling the entire audience that he wanted to kiss them. Benigni unleashed such pure joy that he made the Tom Cruise couch-jumping incident on “Oprah” look tame in comparison.
1. Marlon Brando – The Godfather (1973)
This one goes back a bit in time but still stands as one of the most memorable Oscar speeches of all time. Brando, who was notorious for snubbing the Academy Awards show, did not attend the telecast to receive his Oscar for Best Actor. Instead, he stirred controversy during the telecast by sending Native American civil rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather to collect his trophy. Instead, Littlefeather took the opportunity to read a prepared statement that lectured the audience on the misrepresentation of Native Americans in Hollywood. Brando had become involved in the American Indian Movement. A few years later, award presenter Roger Moore revealed in his autobiography that he kept Brando’s Oscar overnight and it was collected by an armed guard the morning after.
Tune in to the 86th annual Academy Awards show to air Sunday, March 2 on ABC. Check local listings for details.