Crafting a Winning Oscar Speech: Why Every Word Counts

Academy Award speeches are not the best examples of great acceptance speeches. There are, however, many unforgettable moments.

Here you will find my second list of favorite Oscar segments. We will look to see why.Learn from Hollywood

Oscar examples that make the speech bigger than the recipient.

Meryl Streep, Best Actress, The Iron Lady, said, “This is such an honor. But the thing that counts the most with me is the friendships, and the love, and the sheer joy we have shared making movies together.”

Steven Soderbergh, Best Director, Traffic, said, “I want to thank anyone who spends part of their day creating. I don’t care if it’s a book, a film, a painting, a dance, a piece of theatre, or a piece of music. Anybody who spends part of their day sharing their experience with us. I think the world would be unlivable without art.”

Halle Berry, Best Actress, Monster’s Ball, said, “This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women who stand beside me: Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”

Let us look deeper.

Matthew McConaughey, Best Actor, Dallas Buyers Club (2014).

“There are three things that I need each day. One of them is something to look up to, another is something to look forward to, and another is someone to chase.”

Context: McConaughey’s speech was a blend of personal philosophy and gratitude, leaving a lasting impression by sharing his life’s guiding principles.

Viola Davis, Best Supporting Actress, Fences (2017).

“I became an artist, and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”

Context: Davis’ speech was a powerful tribute to the art of storytelling and the role of artists in exploring the human experience.

Bong Joon-ho, Best Director, Parasite (2020).

“When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is, ‘The most personal is the most creative.’’’

Context: Bong’s speech, marked by humility and respect for his influences, highlighted the importance of personal vision in creative work.

Joaquin Phoenix, Best Actor, Joker (2020).

“I think the greatest gift that it’s given me, and many of us in this room, is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless.”

Context: Phoenix used his platform to speak on broader social issues, emphasizing the responsibility of those in the spotlight to advocate for change.

Frances McDormand, Best Actress, Nomadland (2021).

“Please watch our movie on the largest screen possible, and one day very, very soon, take everyone you know into a theater, shoulder to shoulder in that dark space, and watch every film that’s represented here tonight.”

Context: McDormand’s speech was a passionate plea for the collective experience of cinema, especially poignant in the context of the pandemic’s impact on the film industry.

These excerpts showcase a range of emotions and themes, from personal philosophies and gratitude to advocacy for social issues and the art of cinema.

Your presentations share what is unique about you and what your life experience has taught you.

The less time you have to speak, the more important each word becomes.

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