I am an awards show junkie. I love the glamour and spectacle of it all-- the fashion, the stars, the hosts, and, of course, the winners. I watch every awards show that is televised: the Oscars (film), Golden Globes (film and television), Emmys (television), Grammys (music) and Tonys (Broadway).
Every awards show has a few memorable moments that people will be talking about for days and even years afterwards: Adrien Brody kissing Halle Berry as he accepted his Oscar...
...or Melissa Leo dropping an F-bomb during her Oscar speech for The Fighter...
...or Mickey Rourke thanking his dogs in his Golden Globes speech.
So, I thought I'd take some time to highlight some of my favorite acceptance speeches from past awards shows. I chose speeches that range from funny to emotional, heartfelt to serious, and beautifully written to wonderfully spontaneous.
In no particular order, here are some of my favorite acceptance speeches:
Anna Paquin's speech when she won Best Supporting Actress for The Piano at the 1994 Academy Awards:
This is the definition of "speechless." Paquin was just 11 years old when she won. She was so young in fact, that she had not been allowed to see the film due to the R-rated material. Film critic Roger Ebert called her performance, "One of the most extraordinary examples of a child's acting in movie history." Her excited, astonished reaction to hearing her name called is so genuine. I absolutely love the look on her face as she turns towards the audience holding her Oscar. It takes a solid twenty seconds for her to catch her breath and start talking. She delivers a short, simple speech with the poise of someone much older. I also love the reactions of Emma Thompson and Holly Hunter. They are so excited for her. Hunter was nominated for two different films that year, The Firm and The Piano. Later that night she won Best Actress for her performance alongside Paquin.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's speech when they won Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting at the 1998 Academy Awards:
Ben Affleck was 25 and Matt Damon was 27 when they won this award. Both had already established fairly successful acting careers at this point, but Good Will Hunting is the movie that put them on the map. When they were trying to sell the screenplay, they made the genius move of selling themselves with the script. They sold the script on the terms that any studio or director who bought the script also bought Affleck and Damon in the lead roles. I love this speech because it starts out with Ben Affleck trying to be calm, cool and collected, and eventually that just goes out the window and they both start shouting the names of they people they want to thank. You can tell that the audience loves the speech because they start cheering and applauding before the speech is over. It makes me laugh when Ben says, "I know we're forgetting someone!"
Julie Andrews winning Best Actress for Mary Poppins at the 1965 Academy Awards.
Julie Andrews is so poised and classy during this speech. She thanks Walt Disney, but then spends the rest of her speech thanking the American film industry for making her feel so welcome. Mary Poppins introduced Andrews to Hollywood and you can tell how genuinely happy she is to win. I also really love Dick Van Dyke clapping in the audience at 2:01.
Chris Colfer winning Best Supporting Actor for the television show Glee at the 2011 Golden Globes:
Believe it or not, this speech was not written or rehearsed. In a later interview Colfer said he was certain that Eric Stonestreet was going to win, so he didn't prepare anything. It's always awesome when you can see that the winner of an award is truly shocked to hear their name called. Colfer looks so dazed. His cast members have to pull him up and send him on his way. There's not a false step in this entire speech. He starts off with a funny quip, thanks his cast and crew, and then delivers a beautiful, heartfelt thank you to the fans of the show.
Dustin Lance Black winning Best Original Screenplay for Milk at the 2009 Oscars:
Milk is the true story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office. Dustin Lance Black was just 24 when he won this award and his speech is so moving. He talks about how personal Harvey's story is to him and he talks about his hopes that one day there will be nation-wide gay rights. Milk is fantastic movie and a movie that I think had to be made at this time in our country.
Kristin Chenoweth winning Best Supporting Actress at the 2009 Emmys:
I just find everything about this woman adorable. It's crazy how much talent can fit into a 4' 10" woman. Chenoweth is mostly known for her work on Broadway (Glinda in Wicked, Sally in You're A Good Man Charlie Brown). She won this award for the television show Pushing Daisies, which had been cancelled by the time the Emmys rolled around. I love how surprised she looks. She immediately bursts into tears when she hears her name called. Her already high-pitched voice is even higher because she's crying. The best part of this speech is when she says that she's unemployed and starts listing the shows she wants to be on. I also like it when she keeps saying "This is really heavy," referring to the statuette.
I love this picture of Tina Fey and Jon Hamm presenting her with the award because I think it looks like Lord of the Rings. Chenoweth is SO tiny, she looks like a hobbit next to Hamm and Fey.
David Seidler winning Best Original Screenplay for The King's Speech at the 2011 Oscars:
There's such a great story behind this award. Seidler had a severe stutter as a child that he accredited to the emotional trauma of World War II and seeing his grandparents murdered during the Holocaust. He found the story of King George VI very inspirational as a child. He had wanted to write this movie for years, but when he asked the Queen Mother for permission in the early 80's she said, "Yes, but not in my lifetime," citing that the memories were too painful. Little did Seidler know, the Queen Mother would live to the age of 101. So almost 30 years later, the film was made. Seidler, at the age of 73, is the oldest person to date to win this award, hence his line, "My father always said to me I would be a late bloomer."
Tom Hanks winning Best Actor for Philadelphia at the 1994 Oscars:
This speech is just downright beautiful. I love every second of it. He thanks the people who are important to the film and then he thanks two of his acting mentors which he calls, "Two of the finest gay Americans." If you haven't seen the film (which everyone should because it's amazing), Hanks plays a gay man with AIDS who is fired from his job due to his homosexuality. Hanks' performance in this film is extraordinary. It's possibly one of the single greatest film performances of all time.
And finally, Tina Fey's acceptance speeches. Ever since her television show 30 Rock premiered in 2006, it seems like not an awards show has gone by without Tina Fey winning for some aspect of the show, whether it be acting, writing, or producing. Her speeches are always full of comedy zings, but she is also genuinely thankful.
First, her acceptance speech at the 2008 Emmys for Lead Actress in a Television Series:
The best line is "I want to thank my parents for somehow raising me to have confidence that is disproportionate with my looks and abilities. Well done, that is what all parents should do."
30 Rock winning for Best Comedy Series at the 2009 Emmys:
Who doesn't love Bob Newhart? His little monologue at the beginning is a little self-serving, but he's Bob Newhart. A comedy genius like that can be a little narcissistic at the Emmys. If you don't want to hear him, skip to 2:08. Again, the speech is funny and heartfelt. It's a fairly recent thing that when a show or movie wins the top prize, everyone involved gets onstage. I really that because it gives the audience a chance to see how many people it takes to make a show work.
Tina Fey winning Best Actress at the 2009 Golden Globes:
Tina Fey has won SO many times that she has given a lot of speeches, so it's awesome how she makes each one unique. And this is by far the most unique. She thanks the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which is the group that votes for the Golden Globes, and then she addresses the people on the internet who hate on her. It's daring and hilarious and just quintessential Tina Fey humor.
So, there you have it: Some of my favorite awards show acceptance speeches. There are tons more, but I thought I'd spare my readers from a post that would take an hour to read.
If you do want to watch some more great speeches, look up:
Sean Penn's speech for Milk at the 2009 Oscars
Kate Winslet's speech for The Reader at the 2009 Oscars
Sutton Foster's speech for Anything Goes at the 2011 Tonys
Michael Caine's speech for The Cider House Rules at the 2000 Oscars
Tim Hanks's speech for Forrest Gump at the 1995 Oscars
If you're an awards show junkie like me, here is when they will be on TV:
Golden Globes: Sunday, January 15, 8pm on NBC
Screen Actors Guild Awards: Sunday, January 29, 8pm on TNT and TBS
Academy Awards: Sunday, February 26, 7pm on ABC