What makes an Oscar acceptance speech a good one? Some would say that short and to the point are the best speeches during an awards ceremony, and while we would usually agree, there are a few examples where the actor, actress, or even the speech itself is so moving as to inspire us. Take a look at our picks (no easy task, mind you!) for the top ten Oscar speeches ever, and see if you aren’t inspired too.
10. Michael Moore, “Bowling For Columbine,” Best Documentary Feature (2003)
Love him or hate him, one thing is for sure about Michael Moore, he gets your attention. Taking the stage with the rest of the nominees, Moore uses the opportunity to go off on the political system and what he feels is an unjust war. Would you expect anything less from Moore?
9. Jodie Foster, Best Actress, “Silence of The Lambs” (1991)
Foster comes across stiff as a board while thanking everyone in the universe for her award, but finally loosens up at the end.
8. Gwyneth Paltrow, Best Actress, “Shakespeare in Love” (1999)
She seems surprised, but she definitely had her long speech prepared in advance, don’t you think?
7. Angelina Jolie, Best Supporting Actress, “Girl, Interrupted” (2000)
Remember Angelina Jolie before she was absorbed into the entity we now know as Brangelina? No, we had forgotten, too. She’s kind of Goth in this clip, and she’s totally in love … with her brother. How could we leave that off the list?
6. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, Best Original Song, “Falling Slowly” (2008)
This is one time when the underdogs finally won one. Who doesn’t like rooting for the underdogs? Of course, Jon Stewart underscores the couple’s humbleness by calling Glen “arrogant” and subsequently inviting Marketa back on stage after she got cut off from making an acceptance speech. Her message? Dare to dream and have hope.
5. Sally Field, Best Actress, “Places In The Heart” (1980)
When Sally Field uttered the unforgettable words, “you like me, right now, you like me,” it was a quote from the film she was nominated for. Unfortunately, most people seemed to have missed that point and thought it was seriously funny. Way to go, Sally! We’ll never forget this Oscar moment.
4. Cuba Gooding, Jr., Best Supporting Actor, “Jerry McGuire” (1996)
Talk about excited! It’s hard to imagine what winning an Oscar means to an actor (unless you are one). Cuba Gooding, Jr. definitely shares his excitement with the audience in this clip. It’s almost as if he was channeling his character from the movie.
3. Jack Palance, Best Supporting Actor “City Slickers” (1992)
Let’s face it … Jack Palance was bad ass. They just don’t make actors like this anymore. Forget thanking anyone for his award. Palance went off the cuff and gave one of the best performances of his career.
2. Tom Hanks, Best Leading Actor, “Philadelphia” (1994)
This speech is about as American as baseball and apple pie. It seriously doesn’t get much better than this. Hanks’ role in this film, as well as his acceptance speech, pushed gay rights and the AIDS issue into the mainstream more than probably any other film of the decade. Kudos to Tom Hanks for taking on the challenge and making it a film to remember.
1. Marlon Brando, Best Actor, “The Godfather” (1973)
Marlon Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather to share a speech with the Academy as he became one of only three people to refuse an Oscar. His protest, against the stereotyped portrayal of Native Americans in film and television, wasn’t just in his snub of the Oscars, but also in his activism at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, at the time. It takes balls of steel to do something like this, and it takes an actor of Brando’s caliber to make it newsworthy. He’ll never be forgotten for his achievements in film, nor his stand for the Native Americans.
If your favorite acceptance speech isn't on the list, feel free to post it in the comments!