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Culture

12 of the most memorable Oscar moments

Lifestyle

Historic wins, unforgettable red-carpet outfits, landmark acceptance speeches and headline-making ceremony happenings: the Academy Awards have it all. Here, in no particular order, we round up the standout moments when all eyes and ears were on Tinseltown…

Jennifer Lawrence makes everyone fall in love with her
Stacking it on the stairs because of your voluminous Dior gown is the stuff anxiety dreams of the rich and famous are made of, but Jennifer Lawrence styled out her fall so charmingly that she earned a standing ovation when collecting her Best Actress Oscar for ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, quipping onstage: “You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell and that’s really embarrassing, but thank you.” Hearts swelled with love for Lawrence.
Cher owns the red carpet
When Cher arrived at the Oscars in 1986 wearing a bejeweled, latticed crop top accessorized with a plumed headdress, everyone did a double take. The outfit may have been ‘distracting’, but conforming isn’t Cher’s style: “I wanted to be a member of the Academy, but I could not be a member of the Academy and not belong to myself,” she later told ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ of her journey to be considered a ‘serious’ actress on her own terms. At the ceremony two years later, Cher paid no mind to her critics and donned another jaw-dropping Bob Mackie creation inspired by spider webs. That night, she collected the award for Best Actress in ‘Moonstruck’.
Ellen DeGeneres’ record-breaking selfie
It was shared over 3million times, caused Twitter to crash, made headlines worldwide and sparked countless memes: Ellen DeGeneres’ A-lister-packed selfie, taken at the 2014 Oscars ceremony she was masterfully hosting, was a thing of wonder. NB: when you get stars including Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Jared Leto and Angelina Jolie to press their faces together for a behind-the-scenes snap, you win the internet.
Halle Berry makes history
“This moment is so much bigger than me,” said an emotional Halle Berry when accepting her Best Actress Oscar for ‘Monster’s Ball’ in 2002. “It’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.” Berry has since been vocal about her disappointment that little has changed in the years since her landmark win – she remains the only woman of color to have won in this category.
Elizabeth Taylor is interrupted by a streaker
Yes, really. Robert Opel, a conceptual artist and gay rights activist, stormed the stage nude flashing a two-fingered peace sign at the 46th Academy Awards, shortly before Elizabeth Taylor was due to present the Best Actor category. Host David Niven commented, “Isn't it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off his clothes and showing his shortcomings?” The whole thing was broadcast live.
Leonardo DiCaprio wins… finally
After a 27-year acting career and six nominations, everyone – especially DiCaprio himself – was wondering what it would take for him to be awarded one of the coveted golden statuettes. In the end, his performance in ‘The Revenant’, which involved eating a raw bison liver, wrestling an angry bear and sleeping inside an animal carcass, was the clincher.
Julia Roberts will not be interrupted
In 2001, Julia Roberts won Best Actress for her lead part in ‘Erin Brockovich’ and before embarking on her thank yous, she took a moment to ask the conductor of the Oscar’s orchestra not to cut her short (musicians are primed to play talkative celebrities off the stage after their allocated 45-second slot): “Sir, you’re doing a great job, but you’re so quick with that stick. So why don’t you sit, because I may never be here again.”
Moonlight’s envelope mix-up
At the awards ceremony in 2017, ‘La La Land’ was mistakenly named Best Picture by presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. After much confusion, ‘La La Land’ producer Jordan Horowitz cleared things up, revealing to the gasping audience that ‘Moonlight’ was in fact the true winner. Luckily, everyone handled the error graciously.
Barbra and Katharine share the Best Actress Award
A tie’s a tie. In 1969, Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn each received exactly 3030 votes from the Academy for their leading performances in ‘Funny Girl’ and ‘The Lion in Winter’, respectively. It was the third tie out of six in Oscars history, and as Hepburn was absent from the ceremony, Streisand was the first to get her hands on the prize, greeting it with the words, “Hello, gorgeous!” Streisand’s outfit for the evening has since become iconic – a sequined suit that she hadn’t realized was completely see-through.
Kathryn Bigelow’s epic night
Not only was Kathryn Bigelow the first woman to win in the directing category in 2009 for her war movie ‘The Hurt Locker’ – a historic achievement in itself – she also beat her ex-husband to the award, one James Cameron (nominated for ‘Avatar’). A great day for women; the greatest day for Bigelow.
Hattie McDaniel is the first African-American Oscar winner
Hattie McDaniel’s performance as slave Mammy in ‘Gone with the Wind’ was extraordinary and duly recognized as such by the Academy. However, 1939’s racial segregation rules at the LA hotel where the ceremony was held meant she was forced to sit at the back of the room, away from her co-stars. When collecting her Best Supporting Actress award, McDaniel said: “I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry.” There would be a gap of over five decades before another African American won the same award – Whoopi Goldberg for ‘Ghost’ in 1991.
Sally Field’s misquoted acceptance speech
When Sally Field was up on stage saying her thank yous for her Best Actress award for ‘Places in the Heart’ in 1985, she uttered the words: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.” This phrase has since been misremembered on an extraordinary scale as her having said, “You like me, you really like me” – with massive emphasis on the misquoted “really”. Field isn’t troubled by this, just surprised her speech has become one of the most quoted of all time.
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