Now we have seen everything at the Oscars.
After an evening filled with memorable moments – including the enthusiastic ovation for Best Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali, the dynamic acceptance speech of Supporting Actress Viola Davis, and the humility of Best Actor Casey Affleck – what happened in the last minutes of the show will be talked about for years.
Never at the Oscars has the announcement of a winner had to be corrected. So, now, we have seen everything.
Will this embarrassing moment stand as the most memorable moment in Academy memory? Here are five other reminders from Oscar’s past that anything can happen at the awards.
1973: A proxy walks to the podium
When Marlon Brando was announced as the winner of the Best Actor award for his performance in The Godfather, no one was prepared for his response. Within a few minutes, a woman named Sacheen Littlefeather began to explain that Brando was not present and could not accept the Oscar because of ways movies depict Native Americans. The actor even wrote a 15-page speech for Littlefeather to deliver. But she was escorted off stage and, later, the Academy demonstrated it had no hard feelings when it nominated Brando two more times for Last Tango in Paris and A Dry White Season.
1974: A streaker runs crashes the party.
When David Niven was about to introduce Elizabeth Taylor a streaker – a man without any clothes – ran across the back of the stage. Fortunately, the camera only showed a portion of him. But Niven caught a full glimpse, prompting the remark, “Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings.” Taylor, before announcing the Best Picture winner, admitted she was totally flustered. And the streaker was featured at a post-ceremony press conference.
1988: Snow White sings with Rob Lowe
When producer Allan Carr took over the reins of the ceremony, he promised to stage the most elaborate opening production number in history. But he delivered a confusing collection of contributions from stars of Hollywood’s golden age and newcomers to the movie scene. Caught in the center of this embarrassment was a young Rob Lowe who sang an occasionally in-tune version of Proud Mary with an actress dressed as Snow White. Most everyone hated the number including critics, audiences and the people from Disney. They threatened to sue the Academy for defamation of Snow White’s character.
2002: Woody Allen stops the show
When Woody Allen stepped onto the stage on Oscar night, the audience gasped. For some 34 years – since winning his first Academy Awards for Annie Hall – Allen had done everything possible to avoid the ceremony. For years, when the Oscars were broadcast on Monday evenings, he attributed his absence to playing with his band that night. But the events of September 11, 2001, changed his view. And Allen – an ultimate New Yorker – stepped onstage to ask movie makers to continue making movies in New York. Because the city he loved needed the support. And it was magic.
2014: Ellen DeGeneres takes a selfie
When Ellen DeGeneres – as the host of the Oscars – went into the audience to chat with celebrities she caught them and viewers by surprise when she gathered several together for a selfie. Within seconds we could see Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and others gather behind DeGeneres for what became an online session. Twitter claimed that 37 million people took a look and crashed the site. Everyone loved it – including Samsung that reportedly came up with the idea – except for Liza Minnelli. The past Oscar winner can be seen on the Oscar broadcast valiantly trying to get in the picture. But there wasn’t any room.
The Reel Dad Salutes Oscar Speeches
And, oh, those Oscar acceptance speeches.
No matter how many films we have seen, and how we react to the winners, watching the acceptance speeches is a key part of the Oscar tradition. And this year, we were moved by Viola Davis’ heartfelt thanks, Emma Stone’s grace and composure, and Casey Affleck’s authentic humility, among others.
So how many of this year’s speeches will be remembered in the future? Here are a few Oscar speeches that stand the test of time.
1939: Hattie McDaniel graciously thanks
As the first African American actor or actress to win an Oscar – as Best Supporting Actress for Gone With the Wind – McDaniel thanked the Academy for the milestone honor. “I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry.” The Academy would wait 51 years to award another African American actress in this category, Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost.
1943: Greer Garson talks and talks
Once upon a time, the Academy Awards were presented at a dinner, and that dinner was covered by radio stations. So there was less reason for the time constraints of today and there was no music to “play off” an excited winner. Greer Garson, when she was named Best Actress for Mrs. Miniver, decided to thank every person she had ever met in her life, or so it felt to those in the room. The legend immediately began she spoke for almost hour although she only talked for about five minutes. But it felt longer. And, at the time, someone remarked, “her speech was longer than her role in the movie.”
1964: Julie Andrews salutes American hospitality
Much like Emma Stone in La La Land, Andrews named Best Actress for a musical, Mary Poppins. Unlike Stone, however, Andrews won for her movie debut. And she wasn’t hurt by her connection to two other movies. Sympathy was on her side after Warner Brothers refused to let her recreate her Broadway role – in favor of Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady – the same year. Plus Andrews’ next musical, The Sound of Music, opened during voting for the 1964 Oscars. When she won her Oscar, she warmly expressed, “I know you Americans are famous for your hospitality, but this is really ridiculous.”
1975: Louise Fletcher thanks her parents
This little-known actress – a surprise winner for Best Actress for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest began her speech by thanking people who watched the film. “Well, it looks like you all hated me so much that you’ve given me this award for it, and I’m loving every minute of it. And all I can say is I’ve loved being hated by you.” Then she continued, partially in sign language, to thank her hearing-impaired parents, saying, “And if you’ll excuse me for my mother and my father, I want to say thank you for teaching me to have a dream. You are seeing my dream come true. Thank you.” Fletcher quickly captured the hearts of everyone in the audience.
1984: Sally Field likes to be liked
In what may be the most parodied Oscar acceptance speech, Sally Field’s moment of candid excitement lives on in Academy history. When she was announced as the Best Actress for Places in the Heart, the now two-time Oscar winner (after a Best Actress award for Norma Rae) hurried to the stage with joy. After thanking director Robert Benton, she confessed, “I haven’t had an orthodox career and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect,” she said. “I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me!” And a moment in history was frozen forever.
2011: Meryl Streep thanks her husband
As the surprise winner for Best Actress – for The Iron Lady – Meryl Streep could have basked in her moment as a three-time Oscar winner. But she chose to thank her husband, Don Gummer, “because when you thank your husband at the speech, they play him out with the music.” And then she went on to thank all the friends she has made over the years. “The thing that counts to me is the friendships and the love and the sheer joy we have shared making movies together, my friends.” It was such a classy moment from our greatest living actress.
Now, we have to wait a year for more Oscar memories.
See you at the movies.