I like to brag that I have missed seeing the Oscars five times in my life since I was eight. Even when they were on a Monday night and I was at university in the midst of final exams, I took time out to watch them. My roommates were suitably scandalized, but I’m a pretty good judge of human nature – by the end of the Academy Awards live broadcast, my room was packed with people who were “studying” (good thing I stocked up on popcorn).
My dad was a projectionist, and I think initially if my memory isn’t playing tricks on me, I watched them so I could fill him in on all of the important highlights, since he was typically in the projectionist’s booth when the Awards were airing. And then as time passed, I just started watching them because it was fun (or a habit that had become so ingrained that I would incur seven years bad luck if I missed watching the Oscars one year). But aside from their entertainment value, there were some memorable Oscar moments that I just can’t forget. Here they are:
- 1973 – Marlon Brando did not attend and refused to accept the Oscar for his role in The Godfather. In his place he sent Sacheem Littlefeather to make a statement about Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans.
- 1974 – A streaker flashed a peace sign as he ran from one side of the stage to the other just as David Niven was about to introduce Elizabeth Taylor
- 1978 – Vanessa Redgrave voiced her support for the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) when she accepted the award for Best Support Actress for her role in Julia
- 1996 – When Cuba Gooding Jr. thanked everyone he knew during his acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor (Jerry McGuire)
- 1999 – Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful) won first for Best Foreign Film and then for Best Actor. During his enthusiastic acceptance speech for his second award, he laughingly confessed that he had used up all of his English during his first speech
- 2001 – Bjork’s swan dress, which she wore for her performance of the Oscar-nominated song “I’ve Seen It All” from the film Dancer in the Dark
- 2002 – First African American woman to win Best Actress for her role in Monster’s Ball was Halle Berry (wearing a dress by Elie Saab)
- 2003 – Adrian Brody kissed Halle Berry after being presented with the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in The Pianist
- 2010 – Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to receive the award for Best Achievement in Directing
My absolute favourite acceptance speech was from a woman receiving a short documentary award. Unfortunately I can’t remember her name, the documentary she made, or the year she won it. But she said, “You know you’ve arrived when your dress costs more than your shooting budget.”
What are some of your memorable Oscar moments?