The Best of the Oscar Speeches

2018-04-04T20:14:25+00:00 By |Public speaking|15 Comments
Not Quite on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, But a Girl Can Dream!

Not Quite on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, But a Girl Can Dream!

At last night’s 86th presentation of the Academy Awards, on the red carpet it was all about the clothes, the jewels, high fashion and “who are you wearing.” During the Oscars TV broadcast it was all about Ellen Degeneres, ordering pizza, taking selfies, and breaking Twitter. Oh yeah… there were some statuettes given out, too.

Today is now all about who wore it best and an analysis of the acceptance speeches. This year there were no big memorable moments like in 1999 when Roberto Benigni after just winning for best actor, was announced the winner of best foreign language film and triumphantly and excitedly climbed up and onto the arms of the seats and seat backs to bound up onto the stage, applauding his audience all the way (video here for that). Yet even so, there were some touching moments and wonderful speeches.

Yesterday, I promised to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of the speeches. Yet after watching, there were no real bad or ugly moments, just excellent and average ones. Plus, if you’ve been a reader for any period of time, you know I tend to be one for focusing on the positives.

So without further ado, here are my awards for The Best of Oscar Speeches from 2014:

Best Tribute to Mom:
Jared Leto, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” Not only did Leto bring his Mom with him to the event, he thanked her in a sweet way by telling her story. He then had the audience’s attention for when he briefly mentioned the political and humanitarian cause, dedicating his Oscar to AIDS patients around the world.

What You Can Learn: Stories touch the heart and capture your audience’s attention and admiration. Start your presentations with a story and you’ll have your audience hanging on your every word.

Best Location to Keep Your Speech: Catherine Martin, Best Costume Design for “The Great Gatsby.” When Martin arrived on the stage to accept her award, she was smart to be properly prepared for the possibility that she might win and had written her speech and stored it safely — inside her brassiere tucked safely where she wouldn’t lose it and would easily have access to it. Go see how she did it with humor and grace.

What You Can Learn: Be prepared. If there is even a slight chance someone is going to ask you to say a few words, know what you plan to say. It’s also OK to bring notes and to keep them in a place you will quickly and easily access them, even if it does bring some fun laughs with it! 🙂

Best Collaborative Acceptance Speech: It’s a tie!! Both winners worked on the animated musical, Frozen. The winners of Best Animated Picture Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho delivered their speech, each saying one phrase at a time in order. The winners of best original song was, “Let It Go” also from “Frozen,” music and lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The married duo clearly were prepared with a fun song-like speech, starting their speech being grateful the names of their fellow nominees they wanted to share rhymed!

If there was any category that could be discussed as having some bad or even ugly moments in awards acceptance speeches it’s this one. There were many collaborations that won Oscars and many of them all came to the stage to accept their awards together. But then, in the limited amount of time given for their speeches, only one person got to share his or her thanks and left the others hanging to shout “thank you!” as the band began playing and they were being ushered off stage. That was ugly (sad) to see.

What You Can Learn: When you’re working on stage with others, find a way to share the spotlight by PLANNING ahead. Don’t hog the moment or allow someone else to not allow you to properly share your gratitude when it counts so very much. Planning in advance requires practice and conversation long before the moment of truth.

Best Sung Speech: In the Best Documentary category, the film “20 Feet from Stardom” won with producers Morgan Neville, Gil Friesen, Caitrin Rogers, but the most memorable part of their presentation came from one of the film’s singers, Darlene Love, who sang her thanks and message, “I sing because I’m happy!” Even at the time of her acceptance – of an award she didn’t win herself – Love made sure everyone remembered her. Watch here.

What You Can Learn: To be memorable, do something to stand out from the crowd. Do something unexpected. Love brought the audience to their feet and you can, too, by daring to be different.

Best Speech That Wasn’t Live: Prior to the BIG telecast last night, Angelina Jolie was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her work in Africa and around the world and she *almost* made me like her. A little. That’s saying something because I’m not now, nor have ever been, a fan of hers. Yet watching her talk about her mother and humbly accepting her award went a long way to improving my opinion of her and likely the opinions of many others who may have felt about her the way I have. You can see the recorded presentation of that here and watch her reaction from the show last night.
What You Can Learn: Humility and true gratitude go a long way.

Best Use of Imaginary Friends on Stage: Spike Jonze winner of Best Screenplay for “Her.” This may have been one of the oddest and more uncomfortable moments of the night for me watching at home. While accepting his award, Jonze looked to his left and spoke mainly to Robert DeNiro and Penelope Cruz, who had nothing to do with the film, but did present him with his Oscar. He thanked his friends saying they were there with him on the stage, behind DeNiro and next to Cruz. But they weren’t, except maybe in his imagination. What worked was how sincere he was and thanking his friends. Next time, it might have worked a little better had he done it less weirdly. Unfortunately, I could find no video of his speech.

What You Can Learn: Try your ideas and material out on real people before doing it on stage. Get someone knowledgeable and who you trust to give you honest feedback. Otherwise that idea that sounded great in your head may not translate as well as you’d like it to in real life.

Best Bi-Lingual Acceptance Speech: Alfonso Cuaron, Best Director for “Gravity.” “Gravity” took home a number of technical awards last night, so when it came to best director, Cuaron was no surprise. What was a refreshing surprise was to see Cuaron, who is from Mexico, deliver part of his acceptance speech in Spanish. Again, there’s no decent video of this to connect to. Bummer.

What You Can Learn: Be true to who you are and people will love you for it.

Best Women-Power Speech: Cate Blanchett, winner Best Actress for her role in “Blue Jasmin.” Blanchett was lovely, funny, and strong starting with tell the standing ovation audience, “Sit down, you’re too old to be standing!” She did a lot of things during her speech well, including thanking her sister nominees, but most notably Blanchett talked about how films about women are not niche and that they earn money – see it here. Let’s hope filmmakers listen to the buzz that’s come from her comments.

What You Can Learn: When you present well, you can share your views in a way that is fun, interesting and will get people talking about you and your cause.

Best Speech Thanking God: Matthew McConaughey, winner of Best Actor for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club.” One of the top acceptance speeches of the night, McConaughey blended emotion, gratitude, humor and fun into a wonderful presentation. Often we hear people thank God in their speeches, but this year there didn’t seem to be as many. So kudos to McConaughey for giving props to his beliefs. He also did a great job in honoring his mother and wife and family, told a great story about how he strives to be his own hero, and ended on a strong note quoting his famous “Dazed and Confused” character, “Alright, alright, alright.” Nice.
What You Can Learn: Many of the lessons from other Oscar acceptance speeches last night apply here as well: tell a story, share your gratitude, and be yourself.

Best Speech of the Night: Lupita Nyong’o, for best Supporting Actress in “12 Years a Slave.” Wow. This first-time nominee and winner blew us away with a perfect example of a beautiful, eloquent and elegant acceptance speech. She thanked the people who made the movie and finished by motivating children everywhere that if they have a dream, it can come true saying, “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me, and every little child, that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid. Thank you.” This child is inspired and motivated!! I wish I could find video of her entire speech to embed here, but it appears the Academy has made most copies be taken down except what appears to be those sanctioned here. Scroll down to see this heartfelt speech.

What You Can Learn: As you can see from this list of the best speeches at the Oscars, most of were good for one reason or another. What was most striking about this speech is that this young woman from Kenya, who had never appeared in any movie of any kind burst onto the scene doing what she loves, living in her genius, and took home the ultimate award possible in her business. That success story is motivational and exciting to see and to know that when we walk in our own genius the rewards for anyone can be great. Go see more about walking in your own genius here.
I’d love to see in the comments what your favorite speeches were and what moments you enjoyed!

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15 Comments

  1. Faydra March 3, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    excellent review and spot on. I also learned from some cringe worthy moments, but like you suggest- I am focused on what worked last night.

  2. Felicia Slattery March 3, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Thanks for visiting and reading, Faydra! Yes… there are some cringe-worthy moments every time there’s a show like this. Focus on learning from the positive and you’re good as a golden Oscar! 🙂

  3. Phil B March 3, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    You are SO good on so many levels, Felicia. Spot on analyses, and a brilliantly graceful way to incorporate a subtle reference to your own genius product project. I was welcomed to the conversation already going on in my head!

  4. Felicia Slattery March 3, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Hi Phil!!
    You are one of the coolest and nicest people I know! Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you enjoyed my thoughts on the speeches from last night. And yes, marketing is lots of fun, isn’t it? 🙂

  5. Deb Villarese March 3, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    I thought the woman who sang ( from the movie 20 FT from STARDOM) was unique. Showed her talent, Thanked God through song.

  6. Keith deBolt March 4, 2014 at 2:20 am

    This was pure genius, my friend! First time I’ve seen it. Do you do this every year? What a great idea! You are the master!

  7. Debbie Tideman March 4, 2014 at 6:12 am

    Felicia, I loved your perspective and helpful comments on the acceptance speeches. I agree with the post from Deb. Darlene Love commandeered the spotlight with the gospel sounding song, “I Sing Because I’m Happy”

  8. Felicia Slattery March 4, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks Debbie! Darlene Love did have an amazing moment in the spotlight!!

  9. Felicia Slattery March 4, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing Mary!

  10. Felicia Slattery March 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    This was the first time I did it, Keith. Such fun, I think I’ll do it every year 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it!

  11. Felicia Slattery March 4, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Deb it was Darlene Love and she expressed herself unlike anyone else! Thanks for visiting and you comment!

  12. Kathy March 5, 2014 at 4:06 am

    Great post! I loved McConaughey’s speech, and remembering Roberto Benigni makes me smile. 🙂

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