The 15 Most Awkward Oscar Speeches of All Time
When it comes to the Oscars, at least two things are true: any actor with a remotely exotic name is screwed and someone will give a weird speech. Whether it's a director or a sound guy, the unexpectedly crazed, political, and/or uncomfortable acceptance speech is a tradition as old as the Academy Awards themselves.
We'll find out which winner will provide the shenanigans this year on Feb 28th, but whoever it is will have some stiff competition to be listed among these all-time awkward Oscar greats.
Angelina Jolie (2000)
It's customary to thank your family at the Oscars, just not in the fantastically creepy way Jolie, who won Best Supporting Actress for Girl, Interrupted, commended her brother. You know, the one she kissed on the red carpet.
Jack Palance (1992)
In an attempt to prove himself more masculine than famous he-man Billy Crystal, 73-year-old Jack Palance started doing one-armed push-ups during his Best Supporting Actor acceptance speech for City Slickers. Sadly, no winner since has followed up with a celebratory series of burpees or deadlifts.
George C. Scott (1971)
George C. Scott's Oscar win for Patton was a milestone in Academy history, although you probably won't hear them bragging about it. Scott became the first actor to ever decline the award -- an intention he announced long before the ceremony, which he didn't even attend -- leaving producer Frank McCarthy to awkwardly accept the statue from a shocked Goldie Hawn.
Matthew McConaughey (2014)
Hopes were high when Matthew "Fool's Good" McConaughey took the stage for his first-ever Academy Award (for Dallas Buyers Club). Would he mutter "alright, alright, alright" and walk away? Would he perform something on his bongos? Would his shirt manage to stay on the whole time? While he did slip his signature catchphrase into his speech, no one was prepared for his soliloquy on his greatest hero: himself. But in the future!
Roberto Benigni (1999)
Italian writer, director, and actor Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful) packed more action into his three-minute acceptance speech than the Oscars do in a typical broadcast. He climbed the seats! He hopped up the stairs! He threatened to kiss everybody! It takes some serious verve to rattle Sophia Loren, but this guy absolutely had it.
Jennifer Lawrence (2014)
In an instantly iconic JLaw move, the actress biffed it on her way up to the podium, causing Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman to rush to her aid and Jack Nicholson to fall in love. But she recovered quickly from the awkwardness because she's Jennifer Lawrence.
Adrien Brody (2003)
Adrien Brody: good actor, questionable decision-maker. In the rush of winning his first Academy Award, Brody famously made out with his unsuspecting presenter, Halle Berry. It's hard to say what the weirdest part of this scene was: the fact that Brody felt comfortable macking on an actress he didn't even know, or the fact that he did it while accepting an award for a Holocaust movie.
Melissa Leo (2011)
Speaking of sexual advances, Melissa Leo seized the opportunity to flirt with Kirk Douglas upon winning for The Fighter -- and drop an F-bomb!
Vanessa Redgrave (1978)
In terms of awkwardness, this infamous speech from Vanessa Redgrave is still the gold standard. While accepting Best Supporting Actress for Julia, Redgrave condemned "Zionist hoodlums whose behaviour is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world." (For some context, click here.) The crowd responded with boos, and presenter Paddy Chayefsky criticized Redgrave on stage later that night.
Michael Moore (2003)
It's hardly surprising that Michael Moore used his Bowling for Columbine win to get political, but that doesn't make his virulently anti-Bush speech -- also met with boos, plus some priceless reaction shots -- any less uncomfortable.
George Sanders (1951)
Alfred Hitchcock, Joe Pesci, and Patty Duke are just a few of the Oscar recipients who've kept their speeches under 10 words. But George Sanders trounced them all in 1951 when he won Best Supporting Actor for All About Eve. As the announcer shared a highly random trivia bit about Sanders being a baritone, the man walked up to the stage, bowed, and exited without a single word. A power move if we ever saw one.
Cuba Gooding, Jr. (1997)
A team of foolish Academy Award producers thought they could weaken Cuba Gooding, Jr. with play-off music. But it only made him stronger. Expertly channeling his Jerry Maguire character, Gooding took the cues as a challenge, adding more shoutouts with each swell and finally just stepping back to do some victory leaps.
Tilda Swinton (2008)
Leave it to stone-cold weirdo Tilda Swinton to riff on George Clooney's Batman suit -- "the one with the nipples" -- and her agent's butt in this 2008 acceptance speech for Michael Clayton. It's actually more delightful than awkward, although Swinton's agent may beg to differ.
Roger Ross Williams & Elinor Burkett (2010)
There are times when the Oscars unfairly cut people off. (See: poor Marketa Irglova.) Then there are times when your own partner does the deed. All anyone could do was cringe as Elinor Burkett steamrolled a flustered Roger Ross Williams when the pair accepted for Best Documentary Short Subject. He barely got another word in once she started, but he did manage to give us some grade-A strained smiles.
Sally Field (1985)
In Sally Field's defense, she never actually said, "You like me! You really like me!" But ending your speech with, "You like me, right now, you like me!" is still pretty gushy, so her 1985 win swiftly entered the canon of excessive Academy Award speeches. Hey, at least she got a commercial out of it.
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Kristin Hunt is a freelance writer for Thrillist, and would probably trip, cry, and swear if she ever won an Oscar. Follow her to the podium at @kristin_hunt.