Top Ten Oscar Moments
#10 Sally Field’s ‘you like me, you really like me!’ outburst
Parodied many times, and memorable to me due to many childhood viewings of The Mask, Sally Field’s speech upon the acceptance of her second statuette for Best Actress makes the list as another supreme example of the Oscar’s capacity to induce cringe, sympathy and sickness at the same time. ”You like me! You really like me!” spouts an incredulous Field, dividing the audience immediately into those who fervently agreed and disagreed like a knife cutting through a too too sweet cake.
#9 Roberto Benigni being Italian
In terms of Oscar Overreactions, there are many to choose from. From Paltrow’s tears, to Damon and Affleck’s childish joy; from Cuba Gooding Jnr’s exuberance to Robin William’s comic impressionism, there have been myriad in recent years. The classic, however, was also one of the most unexpected. In 1999, the Academy Awarded the Best Actor Oscar to Italian stand-up comedian Roberto Benigni for his performance as a Jewish comedian caught up in the Holocaust in La Vida es Bella (Life is Beautiful). In truly Italian style, he blew up, jumping over chairs on the shoulders of the audience clamouring on his way to the stage. Such a fuss. People forget that he had already won one that night, for Best Foreign Language Film. Tut, tut.
#8 Nick Nolte’s crow
The most memorable moment of last year’s ceremony for me did not occur on the stage, or even inside the Kodak Arena, but on the red carpet outside during one of the 3-5 hours of coverage before the show began. Nick Nolte was accosted by some English television presenter who proceeded to quiz him nonsensically about his crows and pinball machine. The bemused Nolte’s responses could, if taken out of context, render him quite mad-looking. As it was, the incident merely underlined how ridiculous the media glitz surrounding the Oscars has become, and how cool Nick Nolte is and always has been.
#7 South Park all dressed up
Both flagging up and undercutting the annual awards show obsession with gowns and fashion, at the ceremony in 2000, South Park boys Trey Parker and Matt Stone turned up having been nominated for the South Park Movie, wearing replica dresses made famous at previous ceremonies by Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez. Didn’t they look splendid?
#6 Michael Moore’s Bush
Such a list as this would be incomplete without the inclusion of a controversial acceptance speech, and there are so many to choose from. We could have gone for Vanessa Redgrave’s rant about ‘Zionist hoodlums’ as she accepted a Best Supporting Actress statuette in 1978, or Marlon Brando’s no show when he won for The Godfather in 1973, instead sending native American Sacheen Littlefeather to make a speech about US injustice on his behalf. However, we’ve plumped instead for Michael Moore’s 2003 anti-war speech, when he stood on stage with his fellow nominees and shouted ‘shame on you Mr. Bush!’ as the music attempted to drown him out.
#5 La Binnoche outclasses Bacall
This is perhaps an unlikely choice, but we think it provides THREE moments for the price of one. In 1997, Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall was widely expected to win her first Oscar in the Best Supporting Actress category for her performance in the forgettable Barbara Streisand pic The Mirror Has Two Faces. It would be the kind of lifetime achievement gesture the Academy is wont to give to older actors they have overlooked in the past. Surprise, surprise! Instead the beautiful Juliet Binoche triumphed for The English Patient, and Baccall and her entourage look really, really pissed. The moment is then made even more perfect when the gracious and beautiful Binoche makes a point of praising Baccall from the podium, to the horror and disgust of the vanquished diva. The third moment is the Spacey-Crystal banter at the beginning. A joyous 3 mins all round.
#4 Angelina Jolie’s leg
Most humiliating Oscar moment now. Type ‘most humiliating Oscar moment’ into Google, and you’ll be presented with hundreds of photographs of Angelina Jolie’s leg. That’s because at last years ceremony she turned up in this:
Cue a sensation. Her leg now has a Twitter account, and has sprouted many more legs in the year since. Google it.
#3 Laurence Olivier’s lifetime achievement speech
An old, but classic Oscar moment worth remembering is the moment at the 1978 ceremony when an aging Laurence Olivier emerged from behind the curtain to thunderous applause to receive his lifetime achievement award from fellow treasure Cary Grant. Rising to the occasion like the seasoned theater pro that he was, Olivier proceeded to deliver the kind of borderline fruity/sublime acceptance speech that only an Englishman could, and the Hollywood audience lapped it up and were left breathless. The shot of an emotionally stunned Jon Voight raising his eyes to heaven in shock is an added curiosity-bonus.
#2 Niven deflates streaker
This list wouldn’t be complete without David Niven’s moment of pure genius at the 1974 ceremony. It is an example of a cool calm quickness that today’s batch of drab presenter would do well to study, though I suppose Niven’s style of classiness, like all others, is probably something that cannot be taught.
The show was about to close, with only the announcement of the big one – Best Picture – to go. Apparently the mid-seventies suffered from the high century’s high (or low) point people’s propensity to take all of their clothes off an foist themselves and their bits on the unwilling public. This moment is probably the most famous one. Niven is addressing the audience quite calmly, when a shriek can be heard amongst them, followed by more and more until a rapid crescendo is produced. For a moment unaware of what had struck, Niven soon realises, and in a composed and amused fashion, executes the greatest streaker put-down in history, captured beautifully for posterity below to serve as a warning to all other potential streakers for ever.
#1 Hugh Jackman’s opening number
Hugh Jackman’s opening song and dance number at the 2009 ceremony. A particular favourite my Best for Film colleague John, who confessed to me in a candid moment to viewing this number at least once a month, this Oscar moment is worthy of our list for myriad reasons. Hollywood, and the world, fell in love with the Australian star as he emerged from the Gods clad in braces, tux and top-hat, and proceeded to stun the audience with his musical review of the Oscar nominated films of that year. My personal highlight – ”The Reader, the Reader, I forgot to see the reader”. Winslet blushed I promise you.