You know what is more scary than winning an award? Giving the perfect ‘thank you’ speech that follows the exhilaration. And considering how big the Oscars are, the winner’s speech gets proportionately more important.
This year, with Leonardo DiCaprio leading the list of favourites to take home the golden trophy, we cannot wait to hear that ‘perfect’ speech from him. It’s been coming for many years now, and hopefully the wait will end in 2016.
Also, the Academy will now have a ticker or a card that will be shown on TV screens that will flash when the artist comes on stage to accept the award. The card will carry the names of the people he wants to thanks, hence cutting out incredibly on the boring part of the speeches.
But sure, the pressure is mounting on Leo. So we thought of making his life a little easier, with our list of 10 best, and most important, Oscar speeches over the years. How many have you heard?
1. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (1998)
The two, without doubt among Hollywood’s biggest stars, were childhood buddies too. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon sealed their friendship with a joint Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay award for Good Will Hunting in 1998. The 20-somethings, in their youthful enthusiasm, didn’t know where to stop in their acceptance speech: They had a tough time recalling all the people they wanted to thank. Just look at them ask each other ‘who’s left? who’s left’ like any two regular friends. All the best speeches are ones where the emotions go overboard, and the actors we adore show signs of being regular people like us.
2. Cuba Gooding Jr (1997)
Cuba Gooding Jr’s is generally accepted as the ‘happiest Oscar speech ever’. The Bet Supporting Actor award winner for Jerry McGuire in 1997 begins his act on a calm note. Towards the end, however, he lets go of his emotions, and starts rambling. He keeps chanting on and on about how much he loves everybody. It’s amazing how the audience too joins in, and gives him a standing ovation for his honesty.
3. Adrien Brody (2003)
Adrien Brody won the Oscar for the Best Actor in 2003 for The Pianist, a heart-wrenching movie. His speech, however, was quite the opposite. As soon as he climbed the stage, Brody gave presenter Halle Berry a big, long kiss and said to her ‘Bet you didn’t know that was in the gift bag’ and later quipped ‘There comes a time where everything seems to make sense. This is not one of those moments’ and ‘Beside the insomnia and the panic attacks, this has been an amazing, amazing journey’. Of course the audience kept rolling with laughter but not for long. They all gave him a standing ovation for his plea to the world to keep peace and end wars.
4. Roberto Benigni (1999)
He got two awards at the 1999 Oscars. One for Best Foreign Language Film in Italian film Life is Beautiful and another for the Best Actor for the same film. As the former was announced first, he got so incredibly excited, he started jumping off chairs, over the heads of people sitting in the audience and no one seemed to mind it all. He was so ecstatic, he literally couldn’t find enough words to express himself. You thought Cuba Gooding Jr was too happy? What do you say now?
5. Marlon Brando (1973)
While this one may not be as happy as the ones listed so far, it is definitely the most important. Marlon Brando won the Best Actor Award for The Godfather in 1973 but didn’t come to the event to accept it. He instead sent an American Indian woman who let everyone know that Brando is very regretfully rejecting the award to protest how unfairly her community was treated in movies and showbiz. While a lot of booing was heard from the audience, she gave a very gracious speech. We hope Leonardo doesn’t have to resort to anything like this.
6. Matthew McConaghuey (2014)
McConaghuey won his first Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club in 2014. Yes, Leo too was nominated that night for The Wolf of Wall Street. McConaghuey’s speech was so well written it seemed like he got a professional to write it for him. It was so eaily flowing and motivated, it could very well be used in confidence building workshops. The best part is how he ends it: With a popular phrase “alright, alright, alright” and everyone in the audience loses it.
7. Jared Leto (2014)
Sometimes, winners are faced with the dilemma whether to thank their loved ones or give more time to talk of the causes they support. Jared Leto managed to strike a perfect balance in his speech when he won the Best Supporting Actor Award for Dallas Buyers Club in 2014. He told the audience about his beautiful mother who went through a lot of struggle very early in life and still managed to raise two great, successful kids. He also mentioned his support to the Ukraine crisis and told them that they are in his thoughts. Well done.
8. Lupita Nyong’o (2014)
2014 was a great year for speeches. In this list itself, three out of 10 speeches are from this year. Lupita won the award for Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years A Slave and accepted it so graciously. The best part of her speech was when she said, “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s”. Those words are enough to shed some tears.
9. Meryl Streep (2012)
Doesn’t she hold a record for this? Yes, Meryl Streep has been nominated as many as 16 times! Meryl is known as a very graceful, contained actor but when she wins the award for Best Actress for The Iron Lady in 2012, she begins her speech with a lot of fake cribbing. She says that everyone must be so pissed that she has won again. She then does something so romantic. She thanks her husband first because ‘when you thank your husband at the end, they play it out with the music.’ She thanks him as he hold his heart, visibly too emotional at her words.
10. Halle Berry (2002)
This one speech is just pure, unbridled emotion. Halle Berry is to date the only black woman to win the Best Actress Oscar and her reaction to the win is just fitting. She won the award in 2002 for her movie Monster’s Ball. Tears rolled down her face as she struggled to utter her words of thanks. Maybe we want something similar from Leo as well.
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The writer tweets @soumya1405