20 Most Memorable Oscars speeches

These are the Oscars acceptances that have and will stand the test of time. Maybe for their exuberance. Maybe for their political content. Maybe for their poignancy at a moment in history.

It’s just a list. It’s probably wrong. Let us know your thoughts.

1. Cuba Gooding Jr. ‘I love you , I love everybody’, Jerry McGuire

A minute of footage that can lift a smile out of the hardest heart on the worst day. His gear changes are incredible. Here is the full transcript.

“I love you! Oh my goodness! Here we are! I love you but keep going. [Unintelligible], everybody, I love you! I love you all! “

2. Richard Pryor, ‘Then see who sings and dances for you’, Host monologue, 1977

Richard Pryor opens up the telecast with a broadside on the lack of nominations and Oscars for black performers. The response of the crowd is noteworthy, and of another era. Hard to watch.

“I am here tonight. To explain. Why. No Black Poeple. Will ever be nominated for anything “

3. Halle Berry: ‘It’s for every faceless nameless woman of colour’, Monster’s Ball, 2002

In 2002, Berry became the first African American woman to win the Best Actress Award, and her emotion charged, sob-ridden speech was both joyous and poignant, and as she said, ‘so much bigger than me’. ‘It’s

“And it's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened. “ Full transcript here.

4. Roberto Benigni, ‘I want to kiss everybody’, Life is Beautiful, 1999

Similar to Cuba Gooding Jr’s in the sense that the exuberance just lifts your soul. Benigni’s accent and his kissing and his declarations of love were a recipe for pure happiness on that Oscars night in 1999.

“ Love will move the sun and the other stars. Love is a divinity, and sometimes if you have faith, like all the divinities it can appear. “ Full transcript here

5. Sally Field: ‘You like me! Right now you like me!’ Place in the Heart, 1985

The line in it’s entirety is ““I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.”. It’s sometimes put out there as evidence to the neediness of actors, but watching the speech is a refresher that Field was humble, humorous, and not too self indulgent. After all, we all like to be liked.

“ I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me!” Full transcript here.

6. Michael Moore: ‘We like non fiction and we live in fictitious times’ Bowling for Columbine, 2003

Famous caning of President Bush, accusing him of manufacturing a case for war in iraq, which is an accusation that has stood the test of time. The Dixie Chicks line is a beauty.

“And any time you’ve got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much. “ Full transcript here.

7. Shirley MacLaine, ‘I’m going to cry because this show has been as long as my career’, Terms of Endearment, 1984

Funny, honest, and eccentric, this one is fun. Not the first person to have a go at the Oscars for running time. The lack of self deprecation at the end is refreshing!
”I have wanted to work with the comic chemistry of Jack Nicholson since his chicken salad sandwich scene in "Easy Pieces." And to have him in bed was such middle-aged joy. “
Full transcript here.

8. Marlon Brando via Sacheen Littlefeather: ‘And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry”, The Godfather 1973

The most famous non appearance in Oscars history. Marlon Brando designated Sacheen Littefeather to accept his Best Actor oscar, as protest for the way in which Native Americans were treated by the American film industry.

“that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry – excuse me – and on television in movie reruns.” Full transcript here.

9. Lupita Nyong’o: ‘No matter where you’re from your dreams are valid’, 12 Years a Slave, 2014

Such a beautiful and thoughtful speech, that gracefully intertwines the personal thrill of winning the award, with the tragedy of the historical material she was working with.

“It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s. Full transcript here.

10. Dustin Hoffman: ‘He has no genitalia and he's holding a sword”, Kramer v Kramer, 1980

Great speech, that incorpoates a whole of life reflection, a whole of industry thank you, and graceful nod to fellow nominees. Classy and funny speech. Listen for the quality of the films and the nominees too!

“I refuse to believe that I beat Jack Lemmon, that I beat Al Pacino, that I beat Peter Sellers. I refuse to believe that Robert Duvall lost. “

11. Jane Fonda: I’m signing part of what I’m saying tonight’, Coming Home, 1979

Jane Fonda reinforced the themes of Coming Home by signing part of her acceptance. It was an early mainstream nod to inclusiveness and disability awareness on film’s biggest stage.

“I'm signing part of what I'm saying tonight because, while we were making the movie, we all became more aware of the problems of the handicapped. “ Full transcript here.

12. Mel Brooks, ‘Well I’ll just say what’s in my heart’, The Producers 1969

Great footage, just for the fact it puts Frank Sinatra and Mel Brooks together. Brooks is funny, as you’d expect. A glimpse of a bygone era. Golden.

“I’d also like to thank Zero Mastell, I’d also like to thank Gene Wilder, I’d also like to thank Gene Wilder. I’d also like to thank Gene Wilder. “ Full transcript here.

13. Meryl Streep: ‘Oh come on, why her again!’, The Iron Lady 2012

This is the acceptance speech for someone who really knows how to do these things, because she’s done so many. So funny and well structured, with great humour and emotion. Stamped as a sort of whole of career valedictory.

“I really want to thank all my colleagues, all my friends, I look out here and I see my life before my eyes, “ Full transcript here.

14, Tom Hanks: ‘The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels’, Philadelphia 1995

Strong start with the ‘here’s what I know’. That recurs throughout the speech, and he moves from the personal triumph to the global tragedy of AIDS. Lovely to have the nod to the high school drama teacher.

”We know their names. They number a thousand for each one of the red ribbons that we wear here tonight. They finally rest in the warm embrace of the gracious creator of us all. “ Full transcript here.

15. Matthew McConaughey, ‘There are three things that I need each day’, Dallas Buyers Club, 2014

God, family and self. The three pronged structure gives the speech a spine, and works very well. The unorthodox answer to the question, ‘who is your hero’ makes this a favourite amongst people hunting motivational speeches on Speakola.

“When I was 15 years old I had a very important person in my life come and ask me 'Who's your hero?” Full transcript here.

16. Woody Allen, Love Letter to New York, post 9-11, 2002

Arguably New York’s greatest filmmaker was a less divisive figure in 2002 than he is in 2019. Post 9-11, he was asked to deliver a ‘Love Letter to New York in the Movies’ and did a wonderful job. The subsequent clip is terrific too.

“ I panicked immediately, because I thought that they wanted their Oscars back.” Full transcript here.

17. Jack Palance: ‘Forty-two years later he was right’ City Slickers, 1992

Three words. One hand pushups. Full transcript here.

“They forget, they forget to ask that you go out there and you do all these…things. Like for instance, you know, [leaves podium] you go out there, you do these one-arm push-ups.”

18. Paul Hogan, Oscars etiquette bit, Crocodile Dundee, 1987

Speakola is based in Australia and we Australians sometimes forget how funny Hoges was.

‘G’day peers’ Full transcript here.

19. Vanessa Redgrave: ‘I pledge to you that I will continue to fight against anti-Semitism and fascism’, Julia, 1978

Vanessa Redgrave was taking heat from the Jewish Defence League because she narrated a documentary film called ‘The Palestinian’ When she won the Oscar for the Holocaust drama Julia, she hit out at her critics in a memorable speech. Booing from sections of crowd.

“And I salute you and I pay tribute to you and I think you should be very proud that in the last few weeks you've stood firm and you have refused to be intimidated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums” Full transcript.

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