The green screen (2006)
“Tonight, I am presenting the award for excellence in visual effects. Or should I say, thanks to the miracle of green screen technology, my disembodied head is.” This is how Ben Stiller introduced himself at the 2006 Oscars before presenting the award for “Best Achievement in Visual Effects”
The British are coming! (1981)
Although Chariots of Fire is not at the forefront of pop culture like it used to be, it did win seven Oscars in its heyday. As Colin Welland declared upon collecting the Oscar for Best Original Screenprize, “The British are coming!” Not too far from the truth, as British cinema has been a prevalent force over the past 30 years.
I do all my own stunts (2006)
Tripping over your dress with tens of millions of people watching you live from all around the world is probably hard to live down. Jennifer Garner though, collected herself, walked up to the microphone, and calmly informed the crowd, “I do all my own stunts.”
Silence of the Lambs (1992)
Generally speaking scary movies don’t do very well at the Academy Awards. Silence of the Lambs, however, is certainly the outlier of the group. It didn’t win just one award, it actually won all 5. The only other two films to accomplish this are One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and It Happened One Night.
Oscars televised (1953)
Believe it nor not the Oscars weren’t always the huge ordeal they are today. There was a time in the distant past that they were reserved exclusively for Hollywood Royalty. 1953 changed all that with the first Academy Awards telecast. Today they are watched all around the world and the 70th Academy Awards had 57 million viewers tune in.
Jennifer Hudson (2007)
After American Idol ended probably nobody thought they would be hearing the name of “Jennifer Hudson” associated with too many Internationally Recognized awards, much less an Oscar. How wrong they were. Not even two years later she surprised millions when she won the award for her performance in Dreamgirls.
Muhammad Ali vs Rocky Balboa (1976)
Sylvester Stallone had barely opened his mouth to present an award at the 1976 Awards when Muhammad Ali snuck up behind him. They got into a mock argument which was followed by a mock fight, winner – Ali. Sorry Rocky fans.
The aisle is there for a reason (1998)
Its been over 10 years and humanity is still in the dark as to what exactly happened when Roberto Begnigni won his Oscar for Life is Beautiful. The Italian director made his way to the stage leaping over chairs and waving his hands wildly. Hope he’s doing alright.
Sense of humor…fail (2005)
Most people expect the host to make some jokes, or at least try to, so when Chris Rock poked fun at Jude Law for being in every movie of the previous year and not having anything to show for it everyone in the crowd laughed and moved on. Well, everybody minus one. When Sean Penn took the stage to present his award he came to Jude’s defense by claiming he’s one the best actors of our time. You could almost hear the vertebrae rubbing against each other in Chris Rock’s neck as he sat in the crowd shaking his head.
Will and Steve (2006)
Remember elementary school? Its basic arithmetic. 2 + 2 = 4 and Will Ferrell + Steve Carell = you shouldn’t be surprised. When Will and Steve took the stage to present the award for Best Makeup while wearing makeup we double checked our work, and it looked good.
Sorry Frank, we meant Frank (1933)
As soon as Will Rogers called his name, Frank Capra jumped up to collect his Oscar for Lady for a Day. The problem was that there were at least two Franks in the audience that night and Capra was not the Frank that won the Oscar. As embarrassing as it was at least it happened pre 1953 (see number 21).
Billy Crystal wheeled onto stage as Hannibal (1992)
As Billy later acknowledged, he really wasn’t sure how this little stunt would go. Truth be told though, it couldn’t have gone better. It was on this night that Billy secured himself a spot as one of the top Academy Awards hosts of our time.
A moment bigger than Halle Berry (2002)
Halle Berry was the first, and as of yet the only, black woman to receive an Oscar for Best Actress. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that as far as emotional moments go, this one was up there. When she wasn’t crying, she was making a valiant attempt to thank everyone and then memorably stated, “This moment is so much bigger than me.”
Alfred Hitchcock honored (1967)
The master of suspense never won an Oscar. At least not competitively. Unbelievable right? That’s probably one reason why the Academy finally decided to honor him with the Irving G. Thalberg award. His acceptance speech consisted of an eloquent two words: thank you.
Vanessa Redgrave gets booed (1978)
While giving her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress in Julia, Vanessa was being protested against outside by the Jewish Defense League for her support of Palestine. Although it can be hard to read an audience sometimes, especially with the spotlights shining in your face, she was really off the mark when she called them “Zionist hoodlums”. The applause was quickly drowned out by loud unforgettable boo.
A quiet thank you (1976)
When Louise Fletcher won the Best Actress for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest she was emotional. So emotional in fact that she couldn’t really do much more than stammer. She did, however, manage the standard “thank you mom and dad”. In sign language. Her parents were deaf and thanks to that everyone in the audience was blind…with tears.
Sidney Poitier makes history (1963)
With his award for Best Actor in Lilies of the Field Sidney became the first black man to win an Oscar. This was not only the start of a a legendary career but also a the catalyst for the start of a new era in film. His life has been a source of influence for many people.
Sacheen Littlefeather (1973)
When Marlon Brando’s name was announced for the award of Best Actor in The Godfather it was a little girl dressed in native american garb that took the stage. While its common knowledge that stars will use the Oscar platform to push their political agendas, Marlon really took it an extra mile when he sent Sacheen in his place. Evidently the film industry was failing to treat Native Americans equitably so he hired an actress to let the industry know. Points for creativity but a real Indian would have been way cooler.
Spielberg wins (1994)
Prior to this Steven had certainly already made a name for himself having received several nominations, but with a masterpiece like Schindler’s List he might as well have handed himself the Oscar.
Palance pushups (1992)
All doubts about his Oscar aside Jack certainly put on a show when he took the stage to accept Best Supporting Actor in City Slickers. The 73 year old somehow ended up on the floor doing 1 handed push-ups. Another Oscar?
Au revoir John Wayne
Looking much weaker and worn down, he took the stage to present Best Picture with these words,” “Oscar and I have something in common. Oscar came onto the Hollywood scene in 1928 and so did I. We’re both a little weather beaten but we plan to stick around for a whole lot longer”. Although he didn’t live up to his promise in the literal sense, we know he meant our hearts. RIP Duke.
A serenade (2007)
As anyone who as been around long enough can attest to, the Oscar voters aren’t very kind to comedians, which was the primary inspiration behind the song that Jack Black and Will Ferrell hilariously serenaded the audience with in 2007. They have yet to be even nominated.
The streaker (1974)
Robert Opel didn’t phase host David Niven in the slightest when he charged onto the stage sans clothing. In fact, after a brief pause David said this, “”The only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping… and showing his shortcomings”. Ouch.
Christopher Reeves (1996)
Although he was never touted as being an amazing actor, shortly after his accident Reeves found himself on the Oscar stage giving an inspirational speech that left many people undone. Sometimes winning an Oscar just seems so small.
I’m still here (N/A)
Deviating from the norm, the number one spot goes to Jack Nicholson…for consistency. Every year he’s right down there in the front row cracking jokes and showing off his sunglasses. It would be hard to imagine the Oscars without him. Live long and prosper, Jack.