Memorable moments of Oscars past

Memorable moments of Oscars past


To celebrate the 2021 Academy Awards on April 25, is looking back at some of the most memorable moments of Oscars past… starting with Jennifer Lawrence’s magical misstep in her Dior Couture gown as she made her way up the steps of the stage to accept her 2013 best actress statue for her performance in “Silver Linings Playbook.” The then-22-year-old actress didn’t miss a beat as she gushed to the room full of luminaries who’d risen to applaud, “You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell — it’s really embarrassing. This is nuts!”

Keep reading for more of the best, most memorable and most cringeworthy moments from Oscars past…

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Another memorable path to the podium? In 1999, Italian actor-filmmaker Roberto Benigni was so overjoyed when Sophia Loren announced that his movie “Life Is Beautiful” had won the best foreign language film Oscar that he climbed over the backs of the seats in front of him, stopping to turn to the room and applaud the delighted audience before he continued to literally hop to the stage. Later in the evening, when Roberto took home the Oscar for best actor, he quipped, “Thank you! This is a terrible mistake because I used up all my English!”

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The 2017 Academy Awards might have given us the most unforgettable moment in Oscars history. Due to a blunder made by a PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant who was busy taking and tweeting photos backstage instead of making sure the right envelope was handed off to the presenters, Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced the wrong winner for best picture — “La La Land.” “La La Land” producers Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt and Fred Berger gave their acceptance speeches for 2 minutes and 23 seconds before the error was corrected and Jordan announced the truth: “Moonlight” had actually won. “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins then ran on stage in shock, saying, “Even in my dreams, this could not be true. But to hell with dreams, I’m done with it because this is true.”

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They’re back! Yep, one year after their disastrous flub, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway returned to the Dolby Theatre stage during the 2018 Academy Awards to present the award for best picture one more time. This time, they correctly awarded the trophy to “The Shape of Water.”

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s performance of “Shallow” (which won for best original song) from their film “A Star is Born” during the 2019 Oscars was one of the most compelling things that’s ever happened on the Academy Awards stage. Viewers in the Dolby Theatre and at home couldn’t take their eyes off the pair, who stared at each other with such intensity as they delivered the bittersweet duet that many were convinced they were actually in love in real life. The performance was gorgeous and understated and filmed in an incredibly intimate way — all, we later learned, under Bradley’s direction — with the camera focused on him and Gaga as the backlit audience rapturously watched from their seats. Once it was over, the crowd gave them a standing ovation.

It’s not always how you get to the Oscar stage but what you do when you get there. In 1992 at the 65th Annual Academy Awards, a then-73-years-young Jack Palance delighted viewers when he accepted his trophy for best supporting actor by first quipping to host (and “City Slickers” co-star) Billy Crystal, “I crap bigger than you.” Jack, who’d been nominated in the same category twice before without winning, then made the most of his time on stage by dropping down and famously doing several one-armed push-ups.

It might have been her second Academy Award, but Sally Field’s Oscar for her starring performance in the 1984 drama “Places in the Heart” must have meant something extra-special to the actress. “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” the uncontrollably ebullient star gushed on stage. (Her words are commonly remembered as: “You like me, you really like me!”)

Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy in “Gone With the Wind,” made Academy Awards history when, in 1940, she became the first black person to win an Oscar as she took home the prize for best supporting actress. Sadly, she was forced to sit at the very back of the venue due to segregation. It’s deeply hurtful and hard to believe a business could have such a policy, but the Ambassador Hotel, which hosted the award ceremony that year, did not welcome Black customers. “Gone With the Wind” producer David O. Selznick reportedly convinced the hotel to make an exception for Hattie. It would be another 24 years until another African American actor won an Oscar (Sidney Poitier in 1964 for “Lilies of the Field”).

It was the selfie seen ’round the world! Oscars Host Ellen DeGeneres put a hilarious halt to the 2014 Academy Awards proceedings when she paused to snap a picture with 18-time nominee Meryl Streep in hopes of breaking the record for most re-tweets. The photo quickly turned into a group shot featuring the likes of Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lawrence, Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o (her date, brother Peter, also slipped in!). Ellen captioned the viral photo, which Bradley Cooper took, “If only Bradley’s arm was longer. Best photo ever.” It also just happened to break more than the record: It effectively brought Twitter to a halt for about 20 minutes!

Adrien Brody went down in Oscars history when he planted a kiss on an unsuspecting Halle Berry after winning the Academy Award for best actor in 2003. He remarked at the time, “I bet they didn’t tell you that was in the gift bag,” before continuing on with his speech. When asked later if Adrien was a good kisser, Halle told “Access Hollywood,” “Since we didn’t really kiss, I can’t tell you how good he was, but I can tell you this. He was wet.” Adrien didn’t receive any blowback for the nonconsensual kiss until years later in 2016.

The song “Blame Canada” from their animated film “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” was nominated for best original song. So it made perfect sense that Trey Parker and Matt Stone would not only show up in drag but in dresses spoofing red carpet looks previously worn by Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow. Maybe not total sense, or any sense at all, since 11 years after that fateful 2000 red carpet, the “South Park” co-creators admitted on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that they’d decided to “take a little bit of acid” before getting dressed.

Before they went on to ascend to that Mount Olympus that is the Hollywood A-List, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were struggling actors and writers who were trying to get a little film called “Good Will Hunting” made. The movie, a critical and financial success, went on to be nominated for nine Academy Awards, but when Ben and Matt took the stage in 1998, they still looked like two awestruck kids stunned by their good fortune. After accepting the Oscar for best original screenplay, Ben joked during his portion of their speech, “I just said to Matt, ‘losing would suck, and winning would be really scary’ — and it’s really, really scary.”

The Academy was looking to skew toward a younger demographic when it named James Franco and Anne Hathaway as hosts for the 2011 Oscars ceremony. Instead, the entire production ended up getting skewered. With a grinning and laconic James looking as if he had recreationally augmented his mood and with a hyperkinetic Anne doing her best to overcompensate, confused and underwhelmed critics lambasted the show as a “disaster” that was “spectacularly bad.”

Back in 1969, the Academy Awards’ best actress category made headlines due to a very rare tie. Barbra Streisand and Audrey Hepburn both won the Oscar for best actress that night — Barbra for “Funny Girl” and Audrey for “Lion In Winter.” Barbra ultimately ended up making a full speech since Audrey wasn’t in attendance, greeting her Oscar with, “Hello, gorgeous!”

After winning the best actor Academy Award in in 2019 for his performance in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Rami Malek and his Oscar fell off the stage at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre at the end of the telecast. Photographers snapped a few frames following his unexpected tumble before Rami was briefly checked out by paramedics after being helped up and into a seat in the front row, People magazine reported.

Who can forget the iconic moment when Halle Berry won the 2002 Academy Award for best actress for her work in “Monster’s Ball,” becoming the first and so far only black woman to ever win the award. Moments after winning, Halle gave one of the best Oscar speeches ever, tearfully thanking the women of color who came before her. “This moment is so much bigger than me,” Halle said. “It’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”

The 2020 Academy Awards served up a shock when it came to one of the performers. Rapper Eminem took the stage during the ceremony, performing his hit song “Lose Yourself” from his film “8 Mile,” which won an Oscar back in 2003. The strangest part? There was no explanation as to why he was there performing the old song, which didn’t have relevance to any nominated movies that year. Eminem clarified things a little via Instagram after his performance, writing, “Look, if you had another shot, another opportunity… Thanks for having me @theacademy. Sorry it took me 18 years to get here.”

Gwyneth Paltrow’s royal mess of a dress at the 2002 Academy Awards will go down in history as one of the worst Oscars looks ever. Years later, she admitted she made some mistakes with the goth-inspired Alexander McQueen ensemble. “I still love the dress itself but I should have worn a bra and I should have just had simple beachy hair and less makeup,” she told Goop in 2013. “Then it would have worked as I wanted it to — a little bit of punk at the Oscars.”

Marlon Brando made a truly unforgettable statement at the 1973 Academy Awards when he refused his Oscar for best actor. After he was announced as the winner, Native American actress-activist Sacheen Littlefeather walked on stage with a written statement from the “The Godfather” star. “He very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award,” said Sacheen, who was wearing traditional Apache dress. “And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry.”

Lupita Nyong’o made her first feature film role count: She took home the Oscar for best supporting actress at the 86th Annual Academy Awards in 2014. As she stood on the stage, stunning in a light blue Prada gown, Lupita thanked her “12 Years a Slave” cast members then her family before saying, “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

It became known as “The Snow White Incident,” and it’s generally accepted dogma that if the word “incident” is used as a descriptor, then something went terribly wrong. This 1989 abomination was the “Follow the Hollywood Stars” song-and-dance number which, during its cringe-worthy 15 minute run time, had Merv Griffin say to an actress playing Snow White, “Meet your blind date, Rob Lowe.” What followed was an off-key rendition of “Proud Mary” which had most viewers wishing they were without the vast majority of their senses.

Charlie Chaplin was met with a 12-minute standing ovation — the longest in Oscar history — when he was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1972. The night marked 20 years since the silent movie star was exiled from the United States for alleged communist sympathies. “Words seem so futile — so feeble,” he said, visibly emotional. “I can only say thank you for the honor of inviting me here.”

“The Favourite” star Olivia Colman took home the Oscar for best actress in 2019, beating odds-on, er, favorite Glenn Close for her work in “The Wife.” “You are my idol, this is not how it was meant to be,” the British actress told Glenn from the stage (always a good sport, Glenn laughed). Appearing genuinely shocked by her win, Olivia said it was “genuinely quite stressful” to be up there accepting the prize then said she’d give “a massive snog” (that’s a kiss in Brit-speak) to anyone she forgot to mention. She went on to thank her parents and her children in the incredibly endearing and utterly lovely speech, indicating that she hoped they were watching “because this isn’t going to happen again.” In closing, Olivia — who noted that she used to work as a cleaner — said she hoped she inspired others to keep dreaming big: “To any little girl who’s practicing her speech on the telly, you never know!”

Heath Ledger’s posthumous best supporting actor win for his work as The Joker in “The Dark Knight” could have cast a somber pall over the otherwise festive Hugh Jackman-hosted 2009 Academy Awards if it weren’t for the grace and good cheer of the talented young actor’s family. After Heath beat out Philip Seymour Hoffman, Josh Brolin, Robert Downey Jr. and Michael Shannon for the award, the Aussie actor’s family took the stage in front of a hushed room and Heath’s father, Kim Ledger, told those waiting in front of him, “This award tonight would have humbly validated Heath’s quiet determination to be truly accepted by you all here, his peers within an industry he so loved.”

To some, Seth MacFarlane seemed like an odd choice to host the 85th Annual Academy Awards telecast in 2013. Things got even odder pretty quickly in the opening number as the “Family Guy” creator was joined by a large-screen version of William Shatner as Captain Kirk from “Star Trek,” which was the preamble to Seth breaking into a juvenile, mammary-obsessed song titled “We Saw Your Boobs.” Later, the host sang Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight” while Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron inexplicably ballroom danced behind him.

It’s not easy to upstage Elizabeth Taylor, but one man managed to do just that when he streaked at the 1974 Academy Awards. Moments before Liz walked on to present the best actor category, activist Robert Opel ran across the stage in his birthday suit. Elizabeth laughed it off (pictured here) and the show went on. Surprisingly, Robert was not arrested or kicked out after the incident. Instead, he was given a backstage press conference to explain himself, telling reporters people shouldn’t be ashamed of showing their bodies in public. “Besides,” he added, “it is a hell of a way to launch a career.”

When Melissa Leo took home the trophy for best supporting actress at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards in 2011, her acceptance speech momentarily channeled the character, Alice Ward, she played in “The Fighter.” “When I watched Kate [Winslet] two years ago it looked so f****** easy!” Melissa exclaimed before covering her mouth in shock. Later, in the press room, Melissa apologized without really apologizing. “I had no idea!” the actress explained to reporters. “Those words, I apologize to anyone that they offend, [but] there is a great deal of the English language that is in my vernacular.”

Filmmaker Bong Joon-ho became a fan favorite at the 2020 Academy Awards as his film “Parasite” made history as the first movie to win both best international feature and best picture. (He also won best director and best original screenplay Oscars that night.) But by the time the best picture Oscar winner was announced, the telecast had run over. The show’s producers attempted to end things after “Parasite” producer Kwak Sin-ae’s short speech via a translator and even turned the lights down. But some of the biggest names in Hollywood were not having it and made sure the filmmaking team had their moment. Stars including Charlize Theron and Tom Hanks started a chant of “Up! Up! Up!” until the lights came back on, allowing another producer, Miky Lee, to speak and humorously thank Joon-ho (who chose not to address the audience, as he’d already delivered three speeches earlier in the evening) for his incredible work in the film.

Just call the 2019 Oscars “ladies night”! The Wrap reported that a record was set that year as it was the winningest Oscars night ever for women. Females took home 15 awards when all was said and done, besting the previous record of 12 from both 2007 and 2015. Incidentally, the record year came one year after only six women won Oscars compared with 33 male winners. Who run the world? Girls!

It wasn’t just the generously applied pancake makeup or the false eyelashes — it was the perfect deadpan delivery that made for one of the Oscars’ more hilarious moments when comedians Steve Carell and Will Ferrell presented the award for best achievement in makeup at the 78th Academy Awards in 2006.

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