The 10 Best Oscar Speeches of All Time


The Academy Awards will be telecast on February 27, when we’ll get all new acceptance speeches to savor and barf at.

In the meantime, having just posted the worst speeches in the trophy’s history, here are my favorite ones, whereby winners managed to shine in that high-pressure situation–according to me, anyway.

10) Joe Pesci: “It was my privilege. Thank you.”

9) Louise Fletcher, winning for playing the evil Nurse Ratched, said “It’s nice to be hated sometimes,” then ended with some touching sign language aimed at her deaf parents. Aww! She wasn’t a monster!

8) Sally Field‘s “You like me” speech in ’85 was truthful and sweet, though she got crucified for it; admitting you crave the validation is considered declasse.

7) Seventy-two-year-old Ruth Gordon deadpanned, “I can’t tell you how encouraging a thing like this is.”

6) Winning for Reds in 1982, Maureen Stapleton gushed, “I just want to thank everybody I ever met in my entire life!”

5) In 1983, Terms of Endearment‘s Shirley MacLaine capped off her speech with, “I deserve this.”

4) In 2003, Adrien Brody ran to the stage, grabbed presenter Halle Berry, and started passionately kissing her. “I bet they didn’t tell you that was in the gift bag,” he quipped to Halle.

3) Jane Wyman, who played a mute in Johnny Belinda, said, “I accept this very gratefully for keeping my mouth shut for once. I think I’ll do it again.” She wouldn’t even do sign language!

2) Greer Garson talked for somewhere between five and seven whole minutes. By the end of it, she deserved a whole other Oscar.

1) In 1981, Raging Bull star Robert DeNiro thanked Jake Lamotta, “even though he’s suing us.” I found that hilarious and honest and cute and everything an Oscar speech should be.

(“Thank you! Thank you!” Applause for Musto.)

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 28, 2011

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