Limited to just 45 seconds to thank your mum, dad, producer, old teacher, brother, sister, hairdresser and dog, the acceptance speeches of the Academy Awards often produce strange and bizarre moments as stars scramble to gather their thoughts under the spotlight.
Closely approaching its 100 year anniversary, the Oscars have given out 3,140 statuettes, a statistic that shows that in total over 36 hours have been spent giving praise to the Academy in all its greatness. Though most of these speeches are short and straightforward, there are those who like to ramble on, as well as those that don’t know what to say at all, making for several moments of chaos throughout the years.
From strong political statements to unplanned screw-ups, let us take you on a short tour through the strangest and most scandalous Oscar acceptance speeches of all time.
The strangest Oscars speeches of all time
Marlon Brando – (The Godfather, 1973)
Becoming the third and final person to date to decline an Academy Award, Marlon Brando turned down his award for Best Actor in the Francis Ford Coppola classic, The Godfather. Upset at the “treatment of Native Americans today by the film industry,” Brando sent the Native American Californian actress Sacheen Littlefeather to the ceremony to refuse the award and give a speech explaining the matter.
Clarifying that Brando was absent due to the poor “treatment of American Indians today by the film industry…and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee,” her voice was drowned out by jeers, going down as one of the most famous Oscar speeches of all time.
Joe Pesci – (Goodfellas, 1991)
Claiming the award for Best Supporting Actor, Joe Pesci went up onto the stage to claim his award, delivering one of the shortest acceptance speeches in the ceremony’s history. “It’s my privilege, thank you,” the star quickly announced before hastily walking off stage. Appearing in the film with Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco and Samuel L. Jackson, Pesci’s wisecracking character became a favourite of the classic gangster film.
So, why was the speech so short? Was he too shy? Too drunk? Too bored, he wanted to get the speech over and done with? Reportedly, Pesci’s speech was so short because he genuinely thought he had no chance of winning.
Gwyneth Paltrow – (Shakespeare in Love, 1999)
Seen as strange, peculiar and just a little bit too gushy, the legacy of Gwyneth Paltrow’s acceptance speech in 1999 is made that much more memorable for the fact that Shakespeare in Love should’ve never won Best Picture. Showing more melodrama in her speech than in her acting performance, Paltrow delivers 100% schmaltz as she emotionally makes it through her speech.
Thanking collaborators, loved ones and seemingly anyone else she could think of in her life, Paltrow’s intense sentimentality left viewers doubting the authenticity of her emotions.
Angelina Jolie – (Girl, Interrupted, 2000)
There was a point in time when Angelina Jolie was the very pinnacle of Hollywood stardom, starring in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and more. Before both these films, however, Jolie was awarded an Oscar for her supporting role in Girl, Interrupted where she revealed a somewhat peculiar level of adoration for her brother in her acceptance speech.
“I’m so in love with my brother right now,” she declared on stage, which when paired with their strange red carpet smooch, just didn’t feel right.
Elinor Burkett – (Music by Prudence, 2010)
The Kanye West Oscar moment that nobody seems to remember, back in 2010 for the presentation of the award for Best Documentary Short Film, producer Elinor Burkett burst onto the stage to hijack the win for Music by Prudence, despite the director Roger Ross Williams being mid-speech. “The man never lets the woman talk, isn’t that just the classic thing,” Burkett states as she interrupts, before rambling into a speech.
It’s a peculiar moment that Burkett only gets away with because she shares the award as the producer of the film with the director.
Jordan Horowitz – (La La Land, 2017)
Possibly the most iconic Oscar speech of all time, mostly for the fact that it never happened at all, La La Land became the shortest Best Picture winner of all time when it was crowned the winner by mistake, claiming the award for around a minute. Clearly embarrassed about the mixup, the producer Jordan Horowitz was quick to fix the problem, stating “we lost by the way” in a moment that will forever haunt the Academy Award organisers.
Barry Jenkins’ masterpiece rightfully took home the coveted award instead, delivering a brilliant speech following the chaotic mixup.
Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney – (Vice, 2019)
A classic case of trying to thank far too many people, when Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney went on stage to collect their award for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling for the Adam McKay film Vice, they delivered a truly strange speech. Seemingly totally unprepared for a possible speech, the three stumbled through a physical list of actors, producers and more.
It’s not the worst speech in the world, and they certainly deserved the award, but for the speeches peculiar delivery alone it deserves its place on the list.