I rarely watch the Oscars. When I do manage to watch the Academy Awards, I’m really interested in what the winners will say when given 60 seconds and a captive audience.
Here’s my take on some of the more memorable speeches from this year’s Academy Awards:
Most Arrogant Speech: One of the funniest recipients was the woman who won Best Costume Design for the movie Young Victoria. She didn’t seem surprised that she won. Her first words were “Wow. Well, I already have two of these. So I’m feeling greedy.” Even Meryl Streep accepts her awards with tremendous humility even though we all know she’s got a permanent slot in that Best Actress category.
Most Disappointing Speech: You’d think that when you’re making history as the first woman to win in the Best Director category, Katherine Bigelow would have something more memorable to say than “I’d like to dedicate this award to the men and women serving in Iraq.” The best part about her speech was that she kept us from hearing an acceptance speech from her ex, James Cameron . . . twice. If I was her speech writer, I would have instructed her to hold up her Oscar to James Cameron’s face and say “Who’s the king of the world now?!!”
Most endearing speech: Sandra Bullock — to be honest, I didn’t think she’d win. I love her work and I think she’s a really gifted and underrated actress. I didn’t have faith that the Academy would have the sense to give her his award. Thankfully, I was proven wrong. Her speech was earnest (she didn’t think she’d win either), generous (doing shout-outs to fellow nominees) and sweet (she made a special dedication to her mother).
The perfect speech: I loved Mo ‘Nique’s speech for Best Supporting Actress. She walked up there with purpose, knew exactly what her message was, and passionately thanked only the cream of the crop. She cut through the politics of what the Academy Awards are (a huge political marketing ploy) and got the entire audience to give her a standing ovation during her message. And she kept it all under a minute. That’s the mark of a truly gifted, intelligent performer.
And now some quotes from some of the best speeches from Academy Awards past:
Emma Thompson, 1995 Best Adapted Screenplay:
Before I came, I went to visit Jane Austen’s grave in Winchester Cathedral to pay my respects, you know, and tell her about the grosses.
Peter O’Toole, 2003, Honorary Award:
Nominated for Best Actor 8 times, snubbed by the Academy 8 times, he was finally awarded an honorary Oscar — the Academy’s way of saying — we can’t let this guy die without giving him an award.
Meryl Streep, members of the Academy, distinguished guests, viewers, ladies and gentlemen: “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride . . . my foot!” . . . Having already bagged this baby as it were, and so spared the uncertainties prior to the opening of an envelope, I’m able to think.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, 1997, Original Screenplay
I love the way their acceptance speech is the kind of acceptance speech that only two really young American guys could deliver. Following in Cuba Gooding Jr’s steps, they basically tag-team a machine-gun version of their roster of people to thank and the results are both adorable and hilarious.