Throughout his eighty year life span, our beloved Oscar has been presented to a multitude of much deserving actors and actresses. As often as not, their acceptance speeches could have (and in some cases most definitely SHOULD have) earned the winner yet another nomination for the category of “Most Spectacular Acceptance.” As an avid film and movie buff, here are my top five most memorable acceptances:
Marlon Brando: Best Actor, “The Godfather” 1972.Okay, so anyone who knows this story is aware that Brando himself did not accept the award, nor make any speech. In his place, Mr. Brando personally appointed one Sacheen Littlefeather, a beautiful Native American woman dressed in buckskin and feathers, to REFUSE the award. Littlefeather cited the entertainment industry’s maltreatment of Native Americans as Brando’s reasoning behind the no show and award refusal. Brando’s absence coupled with the message delivered by Littlefeather not only made a loud, resonating political statement, but created a most memorable Oscar moment as well.
Angelina Jolie: Best Supporting Actress, “Girl Interrupted” 1999. Known for over a decade as one of Hollywood’s “Bad Girls”, this award acceptance speech had tongues wagging. As a stunned and smiling Jolie stood on stage and professed her not only her shock over the win, but the fact that she was madly in love with her own brother! Apparently in a candid moment just before her acceptance, Angelina’s brother, James-Haven, held his sister close to him and professed his love for her as well. The result: an unclear and shocking remark that lead to unending tabloid rumors as to the exact nature of the siblings’ relationship. And yet another of Oscar’s most memorable moments.
Jamie Foxx: Best Actor, “Ray” 2004. Known for his comedic performances, Foxx’s award winning portrayal of the late, great Ray Charles inspired us all. The acclaimed actor graced the stage proudly as he accepted his Oscar. Giving credit where credit was due, Foxx asked us all to give it of for Ray Charles and his beautiful legacy. He also gave a quick thanks as well to Mr. Charles himself “for living.” Thanks, Jamie, for your never ending ability to make us laugh through tears! Oscar thanks you for the unforgettable moment.
Jack Nicholson: Best Actor, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” 1976. In a role that seemed a “perfect” fit for the charismatic actor, Jack gave viewers insight to the living conditions and daily routine of a mental hospital. His portrayal of McGuffie was so believable that some critics could not tell if Nicholson was acting or not! And as the nominees names were read, the crowd hushed, and the winner announced, jack took center stage to accept his Oscar. After delivering a speech dripping with wit, he flashed the crowd one of his trademark “smirks” and stated “I guess this proves there are as many nuts in the academy as anywhere else!” Kudos to you, Mr. Nicholson! That’s the first time I’ve ever witnessed what could’ve been misconstrued as an insult become one of Hollywood’s most reveled statements!
Tom Hanks: Best Actor, “Philadelphia” 1994. Hanks’ portrayal of a homosexual attorney suffering from AIDS in the City of Brotherly Love brought tears to our eyes. He helped to open those same eyes to the harsh prejudices faced by the gay community. He also unexpectedly outted one Mr. Farnsworth, his former drama teacher, by telling millions of viewers that he himself would not be standing on stage accepting the award without the teacher’s guidance. Although not as dramatic as some of my other favorites, this may in fact be more memorable to me simply due to the nature of the information that we became “privy” to.
Thanks goes out to the Academy for making all of these memories possible. And here’s to eighty more years!!!