25 Most Awkward Things To Ever Happen At Awards Ceremonies

Posted by , Updated on June 21, 2024

Hosting major award shows takes tons of planning, and things can often go haywire. **Ever wonder** about the most *awkward* and *unusual* moments? Organizers know mistakes happen, hoping they aren’t disastrous, embarrassing, or job-killers. Over the years, many strange, uncomfortable, and downright odd incidents have happened at award shows, proving that things **hardly ever go perfectly**. Check out a list of the 25 Most Awkward Incidents At Awards Ceremonies right here.


Emma Thompson presenting barefoot

Emma_Thompson_at_2013_TIFF_2_(croppedSource: https://www.theguardian.com, Image: Justin Harris via flickr

At the 71st Golden Globes, Emma Thompson took to the stage with her high heels in one hand and a martini in the other, babbling on about the difficulties of finding a good script. Her quirky attempts at humor continued to fall flat, and she must have figured it out, looking to the attendant for the envelope. Finally, she lobbed the shoes over her head, grabbed the envelope, and announced the winner, saving everyone the feeling of being embarrassed for her.


Bjork lays an egg

Björk_and_the_Swan_DressSource: http://www.latimes.com,

Everyone knows Bjork is weird, but she took it to a whole new, awkward level when she went on the red carpet at the 73rd Academy Awards wearing a swan dress. Now, a swan dress is not by itself out of the ordinary, but it was what she had underneath that freaked people out. While she walked across the carpet, she laid giant white eggs. At first, people thought she dropped her clutch but were surprised to find the egg instead.


Steve McQueen fake claps

Steve_McQueenSource: https://www.pedestrian.tv/

It’s no secret Steve McQueen had a feud with screenwriter John Ridley, and this came out more during the Academy Awards when John Ridley won Best Screenplay and didn’t mention Steve McQueen in his acceptance speech. In turn, McQueen gave him the most sarcastic clap in recent memory, fueling all sorts of memes around the internet and making things even more awkward.


Brendan Fraser forgets how to clap

Brendan_Fraser_by_David_ShankboneSource: http://www.vulture.com

While we’re talking about clapping, let’s move on to Brendan Fraser’s awkward, overly excited clap at the Golden Globes. In his defense, I’m sure he was just in the moment and enjoying himself, but it made many people wonder if he knew how to clap properly, you know, like a human being. It became an instant internet sensation and meme, and not for its grace and clapping precision.


When Aziz didn't get to make a speech at the Emmys

Aziz_Ansari_and_Alan_YangSource: http://www.vanityfair.com

Perhaps more adorable than awkward, Aziz Ansari won an Emmy for his writing on Master of None, but his co-writer Aaron Yang took up most of their speech time. By the time Aziz came up to the microphone, he was already being played off the stage by the music. He left, came back up to the microphone and said, “You guys are in trouble!” and then left again. Yeah, okay, still pretty awkward.


Sam Smith claiming to be the first gay man to win Oscar

Sam_SmithSource: http://www.independent.co.uk, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sam_Smith_Lollapalooza_2015_(cropped).jpg

Last year at the Academy Awards, Sam Smith won the Best Achievement in Music Written for a Motion Picture, but it was what he said in his acceptance speech that drew controversy, stating that he was the first gay man to accept an Oscar. While his heart was in the right place, the backlash was swift on social media, showing plenty of other gay men that had accepted an Oscar.


James Cameron quotes himself

jamescameronSource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJp7Wd6Af2A

1998 proved a big year for James Cameron after Titanic took home 11 Oscars. When Cameron won Best Director and came up to give his acceptance speech, everything was going smoothly until at the very end he half-heartedly yelled, “I’m the king of the world!” Quoting a line from his movie, during his own acceptance speech, was definitely not the way to go. 


Rob Lowe sings with Snow White

Rob_Lowe_2012_Shankbone_2Source: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com

During the Oscars in 1989, the opening sketch included Snow White, a bunch of backup dancers dressed as giant gold stars, and Rob Lowe. It might have been a great sketch if Rob Lowe could sing, but unfortunately for everyone that year, he couldn’t. His voice didn’t even reach a noticeable tune. How did no one pickup on this during rehearsal?


Roberto Benigni almost steps on Steven Spielberg’s Head

Roberto_BenigniSource: http://www.thewrap.com

I feel like most people would be excited to hear their name called while attending the Academy Awards, but Roberto Benigni took it one step further and, in his over-excitement, climbed on top of the chairs in front of him…with people sitting in them. One of those people was Steven Spielberg, and it looked like with one wrong move, Benigni could have stepped right on his head.


Adrien Brody makes out with Halle Berry at Oscars

Adrien_Brody_Cannes_2013Source: http://www.latimes.com

When Adrien Brody won Best Actor for his performance in The Pianist, he was beyond elated, marching up to the stage, but what came next no one expected. He grabbed Halle Berry, the presenter, and full on made out with her in front of everyone. Some may have thought it an exciting and romantic gesture, but for most everyone else, it was just weird and aggressive.


Stacey Dash comes on stage at the Oscars

Stacey_Dash_(25514874102)Source: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com

Last year, everyone thought the Oscars was racist, including hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite and Chris Rock poking fun at all the white nominees. Well, to make things even more awkward, Chris Rock invited Stacey Dash to the stage as the Oscars attempt at fixing the minority problem. Stacey Dash is an outspoken conservative celebrity that’s questioned the existence of BET and Black History Month. When she came on stage, you could hear a pin drop, making things even more awkward than they already were. 


This was truly embarrassing, but wait until you see number 4!


Jimmy Kimmel announces Bill Cosby at the Emmys

Jimmy KimmelSource: http://ew.com/article/2016/09/18/emmys-2016-bill-cosby-joke/

Speaking of awkward announcements, during the 2016 Emmys, Jimmy Kimmel had the main announcer invite Bill Cosby on the stage. The camera showed actresses like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler looking shocked and saying, “This has to be a joke.” The silence in the audience was deafening. When Jimmy Kimmel came out on stage, he said, “He’s not really here. I just wanted to see what you would do.”


Johnny Depp at 2014 Hollywood Film Awards

Johnny_Depp_Cannes_2011Source: https://www.theguardian.com

It’s never a dull night in Hollywood, and during the 2014 Hollywood Film Awards, Johnny Depp came staggering up on stage, looking completely drunk. He messed with the microphone a little bit and slurred and mumbled his words. He painfully pushed forward, trying to read the teleprompter as best as any drunk man could. It’s a wonder why anyone backstage let him go out there in the first place.


Jennifer Lawrence falls at the Oscars

Jennifer_Lawrence_at_San_Diego_Comic-Con_2015Source: http://www.independent.co.uk

At the 2013 Academy Awards, Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress in a Leading Role. However, while she climbed the tall staircase up to the stage, her foot caught on her dress and she stumbled over in front of everyone. Her designer had told her beforehand to kick the dress out of the way before she walked, but she apparently forgot that little piece of advice.


Wrong picture during In Memoriam at the Oscars

teacandlesSource: https://www.nytimes.com

Every year the Academy Awards has an In Memoriam segment, remembering all the people in the film industry that passed away that year. It’s a sweet segment that helps us remember those we loved that are now gone. However, Jan Chapman was devastated when she saw her image on the screen with the name Janet Patterson next to it, her longtime friend and collaborator. It would not be the first mistake made that night, but it was the one that went mostly unnoticed.


Seth MacFarlane hosting the Oscars

Seth MacFarlaneSource: http://www.newyorker.com

Choosing Seth MacFarlane to host the 2013 Oscars was a bold choice, and no one knew what to expect when they tuned in that night, but few could have imagined the hours of ugly, sexist, and derogatory jokes that ensued. In the opening dance routine, Seth MacFarlane sang a song called “We Saw Your Boobs” where he named off actresses and the movies in which their breasts were visible. Things just kept getting more and more awkward from there. Needless to say, Seth MacFarlane hasn’t been asked to return.  


The streaker at the Oscars

Censored_rubber_stampSource: https://theawl.com, Image: wikimedia commons (public domain)

The streaker at the Oscars is a legendary story. At the 46th Academy Awards, while David Niven introduced Elizabeth Taylor to present the nominees for Best Picture, a streaker came running behind him showing the peace sign and just kept running. His name was Robert Opel, an unemployed actor and stand up comedian. Apparently, he had a history of pulling off similar stunts. Niven, of course, eventually noticed the streaker but didn’t seem too fazed by it and moved on with the show.


Natalie Portman's awkward Golden Globes speech

Natalie_Portman_Cannes_2015_5Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLVUwSZtJMs

Upon winning a Golden Globe for her performance in Black Swan, Natalie Portman began her speech simply enough, thanking her parents for bringing her into the world. But things started to descend into the weird when she brought up that she, too, is bringing someone into the world and thanked Black Swan’s choreographer for helping her with that. “He’s the best actor! It’s not true, he totally wants to sleep with me!” she exclaimed, after which releasing an awkward chortle. It was painful. Maybe there needs to be a stop light that flashes red when celebrities veer off into awkward land?


Angelina Jolie Uncomfortable Kiss

Angelina_Jolie1Source: http://www.latimes.com

At the 72nd Oscars, Angelina Jolie hit it big, taking home the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. But before all that, she creeped everyone out by planting a big kiss on her brother’s lips on the red carpet and getting all handsy with him. Incest rumors spread all around. She didn’t make it any better after she won her award, rapturously proclaiming how much she was in love with her brother.


John Travolta mispronouncing Idina Menzel’s name

Idina_Menzel_Defense.gov_CropSource: http://www.dailymail.co.uk, Image: wikimedia commons (public domain)

We all mess up names once in awhile. Sometimes they’re just really hard to say or our brains get all tripped on on the phonetics. But when you’re presenting someone at the Oscars, it’s probably best if you practice before going out before 30 million people. In John Travolta’s case, he didn’t just slightly mix up Idina Menzel’s name, he massively butchered it, calling her “Adele Dazeem.”


Frank Capra heads up to the stage

Capra-signed_1930sSource: https://en.wikipedia.org, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

Things were simpler back in the early days of the Academy Awards. At the 6th Academy Awards, Will Rogers hosted and presented all the awards. When presenting for Best Director, he opened the envelope and proclaimed, “Come up and get it, Frank!” The problem was that there were two Franks up for Best Director, Frank Lloyd and Frank Capra. Frank Capra, delighted by the news and obviously thinking he was the winner, ran up to the stage only to be told it was Frank Lloyd who had won. In an attempt to save the day, Will Rogers invited the third director up, George Cukor. But I’m guessing that just made it worse.


Kanye West Interrupting Taylor Swift at the VMAs

Kanye_West_at_the_2009_Tribeca_Film_FestivalSource: http://www.mtv.com/news

Who could forget this wonderful moment? As Taylor Swift won a VMA and was in mid-speech, thanking everyone for the award, Kanye took the stage, grabs the microphone away from Taylor Swift, and said, “Taylor, I’m going to let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!”A cacophony of boos greeted him, filling up the auditorium. And clearly, Taylor Swift was stunned by the act. 


Anne Hathaway and James Franco host the Oscars

anne and jamesSource: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com

Letting two people host the Oscars, especially two people that have no chemistry or charisma, was one of the worst ideas in Academy Awards history. While Anne Hathaway put in her best effort, James Franco mostly looked dazed and confused, putting in as little effort as possible. And yet, at the same time, Anne Hathaway tried a little too hard (maybe overcompensating for the aloof James Franco) coming across as a star struck goodie-two-shoes pretending to host the Oscars rather than just hosting. Plain and simple, the whole night was an epic trainwreck.


Steve Harvey awards Miss Universe to the wrong person

SteveHarveyHWOFMay2013Source: http://www.usmagazine.com

If there’s one thing you want to get right, it’s announcing the big winner of any awards ceremony. Unfortunately for Steve Harvey, things didn’t go down that way in the 2015 Miss Universe pageant. He named Miss Colombia as the winner of Miss Universe, walked backstage, and then found out later that they called the wrong name. In a brave move on his part, he walked back out onto the stage and cleared up the mistake, saying it was Miss Philippines instead that won Miss Universe. In one painful display, they took the crown off of Miss Colombia’s head and placed it on Miss Philippines.


Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly gives Best Picture to La La Land

warren and fayeSource: https://www.washingtonpost.com

Speaking of messing up announcing the big winner at an awards ceremony, I don’t think anyone will forget this epic, gut-wrenching, and awkward moment at the 89th Academy Awards. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway presented the nominees for Best Picture but little did they know that they carried the duplicate envelope for Best Actress instead of Best Picture. Warren Beatty opened the envelope and saw “Emma Stone – La La Land” and obviously was confused by it. He handed it over to Faye Dunaway and she read it out loud, saying “La La Land.” The cast and crew of La La Land come up on stage and some of the producers gave their big speeches until they were all informed on the stage of the mistake. Moonlight was the real winner of Best Picture. Fortunately, the folks from La La Land were gracious and handed it over willingly. 

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