Other than the fact that you just won an Oscar, there is not much to recommend giving an Oscar acceptance speech. More often than not, the Oscar speech is a string of forgettable thank yous read in a hurry in order to keep the show on schedule. But every once in a while, someone does something truly memorable. These speeches may not all be masterful works of rhetoric, but none of them will be forgotten. Here are seven of the craziest Oscar speeches in the nine decades the Academy has been giving out little gold men.
It’s hard to say if Roberto Benigni’s acceptance speech after winning the best foreign language film award for Life Is Beautiful would have sounded as odd if he’d been able to deliver it in his native Italian, but he didn’t, so here we are. A few choice hightlights:
“He who kisses the joy as it flies lives in eternity sunrise.”
“I feel like I want to dive in the ocean of your genorisity.”
“It is a hail storm of gratitude for you.”
Cuba Gooding Jr.
The academy tried to hurry him along, but Cuba Gooding Jr. wasn’t having it after his win for best supporting actor in Jerry Maguire. He kept right on thanking people as the orchestra started to play him off. Even Matt Damon and Ben Affleck gave him props a year later when, during their Good Will Hunting acceptance speech they thanked him for showing them how to do it right.
After winning her Oscar for Girl Interrupted Angelina Jolie expressed her affection for her brother James Haven with the phrase, “I’m so in love with my brother right now.” It led to, amongst other things, one of the less tasteful SNL moments of the last couple decades.
Ever wonder what it would be like if you’re college buddy who was always asking questions like, “what if food ate us?” had to give a speech on television in front of millions of viewers? Well, here you go. The movie industry’s most laid-back philosopher king talked about how future him had always been his biggest hero.
Almost everyone uses their limited time to thank the Academy, their mom, their agent or their makeup person. But not Jack Palance. He used his time after winning best supporting for City Slickers to make fun of Billy Crystal and do one armed pushups. Not bad for a septuagenarian.
Cameron’s win for Titanic was boilerplate stuff until the last four seconds. It was at that point that he held his hands over his head and screamed “I’m king of the world.” Then he kind of barked. We know it was an homage to Leonardo DiCaprio’s famous moment in the movie, but it played more like dad-trying-be-cool than Oscar-winning director.
Brando’s speech for his win for The Godfather was most unusual because Brando didn’t actually give it. He had native American activist Sacheen Little Feather come up and explain that Brando was refusing the award because of, what he wrote, was the “treatment of native Americans today by the film industry.” Little Feather even provoked boos from some in the audience, a relatively unheard of reaction at the Oscars.