The Ten Greatest Oscar Acceptance Speeches of All Time

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These people did a lot more than thank The Academy.

Oscar speeches are like the hostess at a busy restaurant. When they’re good, they’re quick and hardly noticeable, and when they’re bad, they can ruin an evening. But, in the past decades, there have been some exceptions to the rule. Like these guys, whose amazing speeches we still recall.

Most Unabashedly Intellectual Almost-Campaign Speech:
Jodie Foster, 1991 Academy Awards

Jodie Foster accepted her second Academy Award with the stiff stage presence and intellectual diction we’ve come to associate with Hillary Clinton. The only difference: Foster’s pantsuit bottoms were sparkly and see-through.


Most Obviously Prepared “Surprise Win” Speech:
Gwyneth Paltrow, 1999 Academy Awards

After months of practicing in front of the help while eating macrobiotic food, Gwyneth Paltrow finally got a chance to share her million-word acceptance speech with the world.


Most Misunderstood Catchphrase:
Sally Field, 1980 Academy Awards

That famous line amused people; it really amused people. Sally Field’s earnest gushing (“you like me, you really like me.”) was apparently a reference to a line from her first Oscar-winning role. No one got it.


Most Relatable Surprise Win:
Jennifer Hudson, 2007 Academy Awards

And I am telling you, Jennifer Hudson didn’t stress over a practice speech. She was sweaty, stuttering, and struggling to remember names on that stage. Just like a real person, except a lot more talented.


Most Like A Saturday Night Live Sketch:
Roberto Benigni, 1999 Academy Awards

If Life Is Beautiful hadn’t been so touching, people might’ve been creeped out by Roberto Benigni climbing on seats and yelling about his desire to kiss everybody and dive into the hailstorm of their kindness. Isn’t there a similar line in Borat?


Most Icky Tribute to a Family Member:
Angelina Jolie, 2000 Academy Awards

Before she was stealing Brad Pitt and adopting her own model United Nations, Angelia Jolie was that weird Goth girl so in love with her brother.


Most Likely to Inspire an Oscar-Winning Film:
Tom Hanks, 1994 Academy Awards

In just under four minutes, Tom Hanks joked that he’d swap his wife for a chance with Antonio Banderas, outed his high-school drama teacher, and talked a lot about God or maybe the Constitution. The 1997 film In and Out was inspired by this speech, and it earned Joan Cusack an Oscar nomination. Now that’s a dramatic ending.


Most Humble, Heartwarming Underdogs:
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, 2008 Academy Awards

These two obviously aren’t from around here.


Most Reminiscent of the Role That Won the Oscar:
Cuba Gooding, Jr., 1996 Academy Awards

Did Cuba Gooding, Jr. mean to accept the Oscar in character as the screaming wide receiver, Rod Tidwell? All he forgot to say was “Show me the money!”


Most Badass Old Guy:
Jack Palance, 1992 Academy Awards

After winning an Oscar for playing a character who dies of old age, seventy-three-year-old Jack Palance accepted it the most age-inappropriate way he could — by making sex jokes and doing one-handed push-ups onstage.