10 Memorable Oscar Speeches

by | March 5, 2018 | Comments

There have been a number of memorable speeches over the course of the 90-year history of the Academy Awards, and last night’s ceremony featured a few of its own. With that in mind, we’ve compiled 10 of our favorite speeches — whether powerful and poignant or silly and endearing — by Oscar winners over the years.

Marlon Brando, 1973

Who took the stage when Marlon Brando won the Best Actor statue for The Godfather in 1973? Sacheen Littlefeather, an Apache woman whom Brando had sent in protest of Native American depiction in Hollywood films, in addition to the ongoing Wounded Knee siege that would ultimately lead to four deaths. Littlefeather was initially met with boos and jeers from the crowd, but ultimately earned overwhelming applause. Brando had written a 15-page speech detailing his beliefs but, the Academy refused to allow Littlefeather to read it, and immediately implemented new rules prohibiting proxy acceptances.

Sally Field, 1985

We’ve all heard this one: Sally Field, Best Actress winner for Places in the Heart. The effusive Field accepted the Oscar by blurting: “You like me, you really like me!” But just like Star Wars‘ “Luke, I am your father,” or Casablanca‘s “Play it again, Sam,” the line is a misquote. What Field really said: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” Her line is also a sly reference to her Norma Rae character (the Academy previously awarded her for the role), but what everyone saw was Field’s wildly earnest attitude, ripened for parody.

Jack Palance, 1991

It took Jack Palance only two minutes — while accepting the Best Supporting Actor award for City Slickers — to ridicule Billy Crystal, bring the house down roaring with laughter (several times!), toss off a few one-armed pushups, and recount the story of how it took 42 years for him to finally take home the big prize. It was the glorious moment when old-school cool and rugged Hollywood masculinity last took over the Oscar stage.

Joe Pesci, 1991

And the shortest entry in this list goes to the shortest acceptance speech in Oscar history. Joe Pesci, upon accepting the Best Supporting Actor award for Goodfellas, simply remarked: “It’s my privilege. Thank you.” Then he beat someone to death backstage.

Tom Hanks, 1994

Once known strictly for comedy, Tom Hanks turned that business right around with his Best Actor win for Philadelphia, portraying a closeted lawyer diagnosed with AIDS. From Hanks’ acceptance speech: “Mr. Rawley Farnsworth, who was my high school drama teacher, who taught me to act well the part, there all the glory lies. And one of my classmates under Mr. Farnsworth, Mr. John Gilkerson. I mention their names because they are two of the finest gay Americans, two wonderful men that I had the good fortune to be associated with, to fall under their inspiration at such a young age.” The problem? Farnsworth had yet to come out as gay. The blunder later inspired the Kevin Kline joint, In & Out.

Cuba Gooding Jr., 1997

An ordinary speech demands you to be alert, pay attention, and maybe feel a little happy for the guy giving it. Cuba Gooding Jr.’s acceptance for Best Supporting Actor in Jerry Maguire was not ordinary. His words were blisteringly joyful; with each shoutout he gave a taste of what it feels like to have your biggest dreams, your earliest childhood fantasies, validated and come to life. The walk-off music only made it sound more epic.

Roberto Benigni, 1998

Roberto Benigni won Best Foreign Film for his Holocaust tragicomedy, Life is Beautiful. The giddy, ecstatic Italian famously hopped on some seats and greeted the crowd, whom he told he wanted to kiss while accepting the statue. During his speech for his Best Actor win, he remarked, “There must be some terrible mistake! I used up all my English!” When presenting the Best Actress nominee the following year, Benigni was accompanied by Billy Crystal holding a giant net for restraint.

Lupita Nyong’o, 2014

Lupita Nyong’o won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Patsey in 12 Years a SlaveShe began her poignant speech by acknowledging the suffering of the woman she’d portrayed, and after giving her tearful thanks to family and friends, the Mexican-Kenyan actress beamed, “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” Not a dry eye in the room.

Patricia Arquette, 2015

Patricia Arquette won her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Boyhood, the movie that took an epic 12 years to make. She capped her acceptance speech by declaring, “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” The statement received a whooping response from the likes of Meryl Streep and sparked a fight towards equal pay for women in Hollywood.

Frances McDormand, 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri star Frances McDormand accepted her second Best Actress award (her first was in 1997 for the Coen brothers’ Fargo) by first declaring, “I’m hyperventilating a little bit. If I fall over, pick me up, because I’ve got some things to say.” And boy, did she ever. After her thank yous, McDormand set her trophy on the floor and invited every female nominated for any award to stand, then enthusiastically encouraged everyone else to take meetings with them, because they’ve all got stories to tell. It was the perfect way to cap off a year of female empowerment in Hollywood, particularly in light of the ongoing #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, and her final words — “inclusion rider” — introduced a lot of people on social media to a concept we may be seeing a lot more of in the industry very soon.

Tag Cloud

LGBTQ Sony Fargo kids HBO Max Ovation Holidays directors king arthur tv talk leaderboard vs. new zealand YA nfl marvel cinematic universe Martial Arts discovery E3 The Walking Dead golden globes E! disaster CBS All Access period drama supernatural nature adaptation Oscar dogs concert Thanksgiving action-comedy Freeform Geeked Week Crackle scary sopranos Starz TCA Winter 2020 Rocky Chilling Adventures of Sabrina RT History 24 frames YouTube ABC stand-up comedy Box Office Epix telelvision comic book movies AMC Plus TruTV movie South by Southwest Film Festival transformers Warner Bros. Spring TV christmas movies Masterpiece television hollywood target scene in color San Diego Comic-Con Captain marvel Hallmark mockumentary films renewed TV shows Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt name the review Ghostbusters versus live event franchise 2021 movies mutant vampires remakes FXX Tumblr casting CNN crossover rt labs Shondaland Trailer Prime Video canceled TV shows wonder woman FX on Hulu dark Film jamie lee curtis Black Mirror TCA Awards Fantasy genre Marathons Sundance OWN video on demand anime Podcast rotten movies we love WGN young adult 94th Oscars MCU 93rd Oscars USA harry potter independent Chernobyl SundanceTV suspense japanese Emmy Nominations cops BBC America American Society of Cinematographers boxing cars New York Comic Con NBA 73rd Emmy Awards A24 new york ABC Family Walt Disney Pictures thriller cinemax Logo Musicals scorecard hispanic heritage month Tokyo Olympics Holiday Character Guide chucky TCM TV One satire Musical comics summer TV preview Year in Review TNT best BAFTA Oscars The Purge Britbox a nightmare on elm street sports VH1 unscripted spain broadcast Election ID Amazon singing competition scene in color film series spanish language BBC One Best Picture slasher cults Disney streaming service ABC Signature Awards Endgame black comedy Disney Plus Fox Searchlight talk show trailers political drama Pop TV psycho cats Fall TV aliens composers pirates of the caribbean TV Funimation romantic comedy venice Sony Pictures Disney+ Disney Plus comedies international romance OneApp Countdown 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards streaming GIFs Biopics italian GLAAD Hulu science fiction Vudu 007 Extras Winners know your critic TV renewals live action art house Comic-Con@Home 2021 streaming movies mission: impossible Image Comics women foreign spider-man biography 2016 elevated horror documentary critics mob adenture sag awards crime drama Broadway Mary poppins Exclusive Video TCA 2017 CBS children's TV comic Amazon Studios comic books documentaries Hear Us Out Music Women's History Month YouTube Premium Brie Larson anthology Columbia Pictures SDCC Arrowverse Binge Guide Legendary what to watch X-Men golden globe awards Film Festival Paramount Network cancelled slashers A&E HBO james bond revenge Watching Series Polls and Games VICE Animation YouTube Red MTV sequels halloween tv godzilla 72 Emmy Awards Netflix obi wan halloween twilight book PBS Spike Awards Tour high school Mary Tyler Moore Instagram Live dragons Trophy Talk Focus Features classics worst movies Apple Classic Film Native Universal japan Mudbound zero dark thirty Kids & Family dc worst hispanic See It Skip It DC streaming service Schedule TV Land rt archives finale Nominations Red Carpet crime thriller diversity werewolf debate war french TCA comiccon TIFF TV movies Esquire Pop award winner parents rt labs critics edition 2018 laika royal family batman Tomatazos Grammys universal monsters Television Critics Association all-time The CW new star wars movies blockbuster The Arrangement Best and Worst NBC Tarantino Writers Guild of America Song of Ice and Fire CMT Lifetime Christmas movies Best Actor facebook legend green book Interview Turner Classic Movies south america HFPA lord of the rings true crime Creative Arts Emmys Heroines Western jurassic park Rock adventure Summer summer TV 2015 SXSW 2022 Toys kaiju 79th Golden Globes Awards marvel comics blockbusters 90s binge Best Director politics toy story Turner scene in color Elton John Paramount Plus rom-coms Netflix Christmas movies ghosts Pixar Crunchyroll Shudder Comics on TV 21st Century Fox Television Academy Opinion witnail IMDb TV TLC El Rey Acorn TV Peacock Cannes zombie superman Showtime spinoff docuseries football Mary Poppins Returns canceled First Look serial killer feel good target historical drama Quiz Sundance TV asian-american prank posters natural history theme song series festival Sundance Now animated Alien 4/20 National Geographic zombies Marvel joker Pride Month richard e. Grant robots breaking bad game show nbcuniversal Wes Anderson RT21 Comedy 1990s free movies Family screenings Academy Awards cancelled TV shows Action FX Rom-Com MSNBC Paramount President police drama Adult Swim Indigenous Pet Sematary criterion Superheroes sitcom travel toronto 71st Emmy Awards hidden camera biopic doctor who boxoffice Sci-Fi Syfy interviews Lucasfilm 99% crime DC Universe dceu Superheroe Lifetime Amazon Prime Video Best Actress 2020 olympics dramedy Marvel Studios The Walt Disney Company Winter TV ViacomCBS Comic Book VOD social media Pirates razzies Bravo indiana jones First Reviews cartoon Tags: Comedy Calendar MGM die hard Comedy Central FOX psychological thriller Dark Horse Comics AMC summer preview Cartoon Network TBS LGBT gangster 45 Food Network latino Lionsgate Nickelodeon History ITV book adaptation ratings technology fast and furious festivals Hollywood Foreign Press Association Pacific Islander HBO Go quibi indie cancelled television Super Bowl The Academy Amazon Prime monster movies kong teaser DGA hist WarnerMedia Valentine's Day reviews stop motion Trivia Marvel Television based on movie Star Trek cancelled TV series 2017 justice league BET mcc superhero Paramount Pictures IFC heist movie deadpool Rocketman BET Awards Apple TV Plus basketball popular PaleyFest spider-verse spanish Disney Horror Neflix reboot Spectrum Originals emmy awards Apple TV+ APB rotten saw scene in color series Set visit comic book movie DC Comics Mindy Kaling sequel IFC Films Drama Reality Video Games strong female leads Universal Pictures Star Wars Celebration Stephen King Star Wars dreamworks Black History Month Travel Channel GoT spy thriller aapi Ellie Kemper Discovery Channel australia Baby Yoda Fox News obituary blaxploitation Teen Certified Fresh Country Emmys fresh dexter streamig critic resources SXSW trophy video Hallmark Christmas movies CW Seed NYCC Sneak Peek Infographic 2019 king kong 20th Century Fox docudrama scary movies PlayStation Cosplay space Premiere Dates Mystery screen actors guild Reality Competition Nat Geo archives Photos game of thrones cooking Christmas ESPN USA Network Disney Channel DirecTV Anna Paquin medical drama Tubi Avengers black news child's play miniseries stoner The Witch BBC