9 Memorable Oscar speeches

Posted by Laura Grande February 28, 2014 3 Comments 5492 views

We’ve all got our personal favourites when it comes to Oscar speeches. Some love Sally Field’s oft-misquoted, yet jubilant, celebration, while others appreciate Gwyneth Paltrow’s teary tribute to her family. As we count down the days leading up to the 2014 Oscar ceremony, here’s a look back at some of the more memorable speeches in the Academy’s history.

9 memorable Oscar speeches

Jane Wyman for Johnny Belinda (1948)

Playing a deaf-mute befriended by her town’s doctor, Jane Wyman famously accepted her Oscar by taking a page straight out of the film’s script: by choosing not to say anything at all.

Marlon Brando for The Godfather (1972)

Always the rebellious Hollywood outsider, Marlon Brando further sets himself apart from the pack with his decision to send First Nations activist Sacheen Littlefeather to accept his award on his behalf. Arguably one of the most squirm-in-your-seat uncomfortable moments in the history of the Oscars.


Joe Pesci for Goodfellas (1990)

For every dozen long-winded acceptance speech, there’s one that’s short and sweet… and perfect. Pesci, a man who has played his fair share of loud and volatile characters, opts for a humbled thank-you.


Jack Palance for City Slickers (1991) 

Who could forget the moment when veteran actor Jack Palance put the rest of Hollywood to shame with a series of one-armed push-ups? Move over, Stallone.


Anna Paquin for The Piano (1993)

Little Sookie Stackhouse, still a resident of New Zealand at the time, becomes one of the youngest actors to win an Oscar. Her genuine shock and gasping attempts to start her speech while staring out into the audience instantly endeared her to the public. Costar and fellow nominee Holly Hunter’s obvious pride for her young colleague also makes the moment that much more poignant.


Cuba Gooding Jr. for Jerry Maguire (1996)

A visibly moved Cuba Gooding Jr. unleashes a barrage of kind words on an unsuspecting audience, getting more excitable with each passing second. This memorable speech culminates into a chaotic mass of shouts, jumps and fist-pumps — and a standing ovation from the crowd.


Roberto Benigni for Life is Beautiful (1997)

Granted, his surprise win for Best Actor that year had Hollywood bigwigs talking for weeks afterward, but it was his enthusiastic response to his first win of the night (for Best Foreign Language Film) that people recall. It’s moments like these that remind us why we watch the Oscars in the first place: to share in a person’s genuine, unadulterated joy at their win.


Adrian Brody for The Pianist (2002)

At 29, Brody became the youngest person to win Best Actor. His childlike excitement when his name is called — not to mention his infamous kiss with Halle Berry — cemented his place in the memorable speeches category.


Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova for Once (2006)

Their song “Falling Slowly” was the audience favourite going into the ceremony and, after their win, their speech about “making art” was one of the highlights. To add to their fairy tale experience, host Jon Stewart brought Irglova back onstage after she was initially cut off by the orchestra so she could finish her speech. All around classy.


About Laura Grande

Laura Grande is a Toronto-based writer working in digital media. A (wannabe) movie buff who just wants to spend her days writing about classic film, she also loves history, travel, hockey, literature and anything related to Scotland.

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There are 3 Comments

  1. - February 28, 2014
      -   Reply

    Great list, Laura! I loved Jack Palance’s push-ups. I’d also include Louise Fletcher’s acceptance speech for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” when she tearfully thanked her deaf parents in sign language. That still brings a lump to my throat.

  2. - February 28, 2014
      -   Reply

    I love that you mentioned the Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova win. I was already a big fan by that point, but that moment just pushed it over the top. I’d forgotten about that Pesci speech; such a classy moment.

  3. hachmom
    - March 9, 2014
      -   Reply

    The best moment of Adrian Brody’s win, (besides The Kiss) was the sight of his fellow nominees standing at the bottom of the aisle applauding for him and looking genuinely pleased at his win. I thought it was one of the most classy things I ever saw at the Oscars.

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