Road to the Oscars: Best Winner Speeches

by Cookie N Screen & Jo Johnstone

People who get the coveted Academy Award and deliver a heartfelt, warming speech that is tender, evocative and sometimes funny are lucky bastards. In fact, I won a free coffee the other day and my mouth shook and words babbled out of me like a sea of word vomit. Watching actress, directors and more hit the stage and light it up verbally is always compelling. You can spend hours going from speech to speech, congratulating the hard workers who have created the past years great entertainment and  get teary-eyed at their emotive or witty speeches. The key to a being a good orator is confidence with a little panache for entertaining and these people have it.

Kate Winslet –The Reader 

The Brits have had a long history of scooping up an award and owning the stage with our speeches. We’re that perfect balance of politeness, self-deprecation and sarcasm (so much sarcasm). Kate Winslet is our definitive English rose and has been giving us some majorly brilliant performances. It wasn’t until her performance as illiterate German Hanna Schultz in The Reader  that she rose to Academy Award glory. In her speech, she is undeniably thrilled and nervous at getting the award which gifts her this natural and humanistic humour. Starting with a wonderful story about practising the speech into her shampoo bottles as a child, it gets better when she thanks her parents who are in the room. Asking for a sign, her Dad whistles (check out his hat) and her response is just delightful.

Robin Williams – Good Will Hunting

This year is going to be the first Academy Awards without Robin Williams in our lives. The tragic death of the actor last year sent shockwaves throughout the community alongside a list of names we’ll be pained to see at this year’s tributes. It’s only befitting that we celebrate his win for Best Supporting Actor in Good Will Hunting.His speech stripped away a lot of that extroverted comedy that he was known for and humanised him in a completely endearing win. Being rendered “speechless” as he thanks his family, friends and his wife, you can tell that, with every fibre of his being, Williams loved what he did and it makes for a wonderful, heart-wrenching speech. An absolutely much deserving award for a complete legend who reached out to all of us.

Charlie Chaplin – Honorary Oscar

Charlie Chaplin had thrilled audiences long before the Oscars actually began. When the talkies did begin and everyone started to lean towards grand monologues and speaking, there were very few stars who managed to survive. Charlie Chaplin was one of those legends who will live on for all the greatness he has given us – including his ability to transfer his silent comedy skills to the talkies with The Great Dictator. In 1972, all of his efforts were applauded again when he was finally given another honorary Oscar and was further celebrated with a twelve minute standing ovation (that is heavily cut down in his clip). His defining moment in the speech, besides the tears of gratitude that line his eyes,  was when he uttered “words are futile,” highlighting his lavish career as a silent movie star.

Cuba Gooding Jr. – Jerry Maguire

Before we begin, who didn’t love Cuba Gooding Jr’s presenting gig at this year’s BAFTA when he asked for a Stephen Fry kiss? No one? Good. Gooding Jr has proved repeatedly that he has enough charisma to delight bucket loads of audiences. But I dare you to not watch this acceptance speech and not feel the pure glee that is effervescing from this man as he scoops up the Best Supporting Actor award. Starting off thanking everyone, Cuba Gooding Jr went from refined joy to unbridled ecstatic jumping around that was so compelling, people lifted off their seats to applaud him. Unfairly, Gooding Jr was given 30 seconds before the band started up the music to hurry him along and this was the reason he became more frantic. But there’s a lesson for you: In just two minutes, Cuba Gooding Jr. wowed the entire crowd and made us fall completely in love with him as he jumped shouting “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years A Slave

Last year had some terrific speeches and some downright bizarre ones (Matthew McConaughey went from thanking God to quoting Magic Mike in his famed Southern slur). Highlights included Cate Blanchett’s “the earth is round people” attack on Hollywood and Jared Leto’s provoking speech to his mother who raised them with next to nothing. Nyong’o had reached stardom and critical acclaim in her first feature role for 12 Years A Slavebut her Best Supporting Actress win was tentative thanks to everyone’s obsession with Jennifer Lawrence. Nyong’o’s win had us cheering in pure delight but the courteous and stunning speech was simply rousing – hopefully, reaching out to children who, thanks to minimum representation in the Academy, will be inspired to follow her glorious footsteps. Heck, even Benedict Cumberbatch shed a tear…

Adrien Brody for The Pianist

Not only did Mr Brody give a world class performance in The Pianist,his Oscar speech was pretty impressive too. The sheer joy and shock on his face as his name was announced and the looks of genuine happiness on his fellow nominees is heart warming. If this was not enough of an entrance to the stage he ran to Halle Berry, who was presenting the award and gave her an old Hollywood style kiss. Casablanca couldn’t have done it better. His speech was one of thanks to all that had worked on the film, inspired it and inspired him. And if that was not adorable enough he returned the next year to present best actress and before reading out the name sprayed breath spray, just in case.

Michael Caine for The Cidar House Rules

Michael Caine has always come across as a real gentlemen. This was so brilliantly demonstrated when he won his award for best supporting actor in The Cidar House Rules. He thanks his director and cast but most of the speech is dedicated to his fellow nominees who he clearly admires. The group includes Tom Cruise, Michael Clark Duncan, Jude Law and little Haley Joel Osment. A real classy speech from a real class act.

Christoph Waltz for either Inglorious Basterds or Django Unchained

The actor had been working steadily in Germany for thirty years before Quentin Tarantino cast him as Col Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds. The role made Waltzs an overnight Hollywood sensation and for Tarantino’s next film he again went to Waltz. The reunion resulted in another best supporting actor Oscar. For his first speech he compares the film to a ship and calls Tarantino its captain who changed the course of his destiny. For his second speech Waltz borrowed lines from his character Dr King Schultz to commend his directors bravery in film making. For either speech Waltz appreciation for his great director is the main subject for him. And also running to hug your director before kissing your wife is the ultimate sign of a real bromance.

Martin Scorsese for The Departed, 2006

FINALLY! Like his great muse Leonardo DiCaprio his Oscar was very, very overdue. So when his friends Steven Speilberg, George Lucus and Francis Ford Coppola got up on stage to present him his award it was almost like a sorry from The Academy. He also greeted his young daughter who was watching at home and told her to go to bed in ten. We can only hope that when DiCaprio gets his Oscar they esembled all his heros on stage and have a drink waiting for him.

Jennifer Lawrence For Silver Linings Playbook

Jennifer Lawrence has gained a following of adoring fans who like her for her talent, her beauty and her sheer quirkiness. She seems like the kind of girl you could be friends with. So to confirm just how quirky she really is Miss Lawrence ascended The Academy stairs and fell over. Not only did she keep her head  but she managed to make it look cool. She waves off the standing ovation she recieves by stating “You have to clap cos that was really embarrassing.” For even more Lawrence quirkiness watch her reaction as Jack Nicholson congratulates her on her win.


The 90th Academy Awards screen February 24th

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