Awards season has already kicked off with the announcement of the nominees for the Gotham Awards – the annual ceremony celebrating a given year’s best independent efforts. And as this marks the beginning of awards’ season, let’s look back to nine of our favourite Oscar speeches. From laughs to tears to historic wins, these are some of our favourites!
Kathryn Bigelow – Best Director
While the speech itself is underwhelming and a missed opportunity to make a statement about Hollywood’s patriarchal culture, the win remains a significant one in Oscar history and one I felt had to be included in this list. For her work in The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow picked up a Best Directing statue, the first time a woman had won an award in that category. It was only 2010.
Lupita Nyong’o – Best Supporting Actress
For her work in the Best Picture-winning 12 Years a Slave, Nyong’o accepted the Best Supporting Actress statuette in a stunning turquoise dress. The Yale School of Drama graduate went on to deliver a beautifully eloquent speech in which she honoured the spirit of Patsey, her character based on a true person. A first-time winner (like many in this listicle), Nyong’o’s very impassioned and grateful speech never fails to warm a heart.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon – Best Original Screenplay
Two childhood friends and college students come together to expand an English assignment into a script that would fashion a nation-sweeping movie. With Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, only in their early twenties at the time, stole the world’s heart in a true Hollywood Cinderella story, nabbing the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Much more about the promise their win holds for aspiring screenwriters than the speech itself, this win is one to remember.
Halle Berry – Best Actress
In 2002, and after 74 years of holding the ceremony, a person of colour finally picked up a Best Actress trophy. Halle Berry’s work in Monster’s Ball was recognised to the delight of the entire theater, but especially to an emotional Berry who took the stage to deliver a tear-jerking speech about the importance of her win. It’s a historic moment you don’t want to miss.
Moonlight – Best Picture
It’s a shame that what is arguably the most notorious Oscar slip happened when Moonlight won Best Picture. Not only did it rob the Moonlight cast and crew of their moment, but it also overshadowed the true reasons (yes, plural!) why Moonlight’s win should matter to us all: it is the first LGBT film to win Best Picture, the first film with an all-black cast to win Best Picture, and it is the first independent movie to earn the top honour. With so many firsts to its name, it’s sad to think the Steve Harvey moment is what people will remember.
Tom Hanks – Best Actor
Tom Hanks has two memorable Best Actor wins. In the 1995 ceremony, Hanks made history winning his second consecutive Best Actor trophy. But it’s his first win a year prior for Philadelphia that remains one of the best in Oscar history. The actor took the stage to deliver a powerful speech honouring the impact his high school drama teacher, Rawley Farnsworth, and friend John Gilkerson – “two gay Americans”, Hanks explains – left on him as an actor in lieu of the queer subject matter of the Philadelphia.
Matthew McConaughey – Best Actor
Often dubbed as the most eloquent speech in Oscar history – and for good reason – Matthew McConaughey’s winning delivery for his work in Dallas Buyers Club was one of the highlights of that year. I will say no more as the speech says it all.
Sandra Bullock – Best Actress
For both the way it was presented and for the speech itself, Sandra Bullock’s win for The Blind Side holds a sweet spot in our hearts. The nominees are beautifully introduced by their co-stars before Bullock is announced as the victor. The actress then goes on to give a rollercoaster of emotions’ worth of a speech, honouring the efforts of her fellow nominees, the subject of her film – mothers who support their children – her lover Meryl Streep, and her own mother, eliciting a number of laughs here and there. Watch the heartfelt Oscar moment!
And last but not least…
Cuba Gooding Jr. – Best Supporting Actor
For his performance in Jerry Maguire, Cuba Gooding Jr. won the award for Best Supporting Actor in what is probably one of my personal favourite speeches. Discarding the usual pre-written speech, the actor gives one of the Oscars’ most honest speeches, proclaiming (read: screaming) his love to everyone who worked on the film. His gratitude is so sincere and rushed by the signal to wrap up that it turns into a collective effort with everyone in the crowd championing him despite his time ending. A truly unforgettable moment and a reminder to celebrate one’s dreams no matter what.
Before I wrap, this list would not be complete without a certain backstage interview that still gives me a chuckle every time I watch it. Here’s Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence’s post-win press interview – that thumbnail says it all!
Stay tuned for more Oscar updates!