The 12 Best Acceptance Speeches In Oscar History

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You’d think, with all the speeches delivered every year at the Oscars, there’d be a formula to delivering a great one. There isn’t. A great Oscar speech is an enigma. Or perhaps it’s best summed up with the same language that the Supreme Court used to define pornography: “We know it when we see it.” In this case, it’s that certain combination of gratitude, celebration, emotion and personality that makes you involuntarily clap along with those in attendance.

Ruth Gordon – 1968 / Best Supporting Actress / “Rosemary’s Baby”

“I can’t tell ya how encouragin’ a thing like this is.” At age seventy-two, Ruth Gordon finally got some encouragement from the industry she’d worked in for over fifty years. Accepting the award for playing the nefarious Minnie Castevet in Roman Polanski’s body-horror classic, Gordon was sprightly and succinct, thanking the members of the Academy who voted for her. “And all of you who didn’t,” she chirped, “please excuse me.” Gracious, humble, and funny, all at once? That’s rare.

Jane Fonda – 1971 / Best Actress / “Klute”

Jane Fonda had a particular task in front of her with this speech. This was in early 1972, in the thick of the “Hanoi Jane” era, and while she may have gotten the votes for Best Actress and some loud cheers when her name was read, she knew enough to expect a divided room. It doesn’t help that the crowd was warmed up by Walter Matthau’s dour attempts to throw shade at George C. Scott. Fonda elegantly walked a line, neither addressing her views on Vietnam nor apologizing for them. “There’s a great deal to say,” she said, “and I’m not going to say it tonight. I’d just like to really thank you very much.”

Cher – 1987 / Best Actress / “Moonstruck”

Over the years, Cher’s sparkling whisper of a Bob Mackie dress became the most notable aspect of her Oscar-winning night. But for me, it will always be her thanking her “Silkwood” co-star, one “Mary Louise Streep” for her support and friendship. One of my favorite things is when an award recipient doesn’t hide the fact that they honestly wanted to win, but finds a way to make that desire endearing. Clearly, Cher took this award as a validation of her long and winding path to respect from her peers. Also, oratorically, nice job bookending the speech with that quote from her mother about being somebody.

Daniel Day-Lewis – 1989 / Best Actor / “My Left Foot”

Thank God Daniel Day-Lewis consistently delivers gracious and endearing acceptance speeches, because he sure gives them an awful lot. Upon winning his first Oscar, Day-Lewis – “Last of the Mohicans” hair on full display – thanked the Academy for giving him “the makings of a wonderful weekend in Dublin,” before delivering a touching tribute to the real-life Christy Brown (bonus points: look at how happy Morgan Freeman was for him!).

Emma Thompson – 1996 / Best Adapted Screenplay / “Sense and Sensibility”

If I could arrange it for Emma Thompson to accept an award at every single award ceremony every year, I would. She’s that delightful a personality. Her first Oscar win saw her power past nerves to deliver a lovely speech, including a shout out to producer Ismail Merchant for cutting her check. Four years later, she was more composed, but no less funny, accepting for her Jane Austen adaptation. Interestingly, both her Oscars were presented to her by her “Howards End” co-star Anthony Hopkins.

Julia Roberts – 2000 / Best Actress / “Erin Brockovich”

This is a divisive one, and with good reason. If the self-aggrandizement of celebrities pushes your buttons, you’re likely to loathe Julia’s Big Moment. But I find the whole thing fascinating, watching an actress just go full-bore into buying her own mythology. Girlfriend just parked herself on that stage with no plans on leaving anytime soon. But the really crazy thing is that she makes the whole thing endearing, through sheer force of her giant personality. The whole things becomes this event unto itself, and anyone less than America’s Movie Star would seem waaaay too big for their britches, but on Julia, it fit. Crazy laugh and reprimands to the “Stick Man” and all.
(Anne's speech is probably going to be similar lbr)

Julia and the rest at the source

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