What Makes an Unforgettable Moment from Academy Award Speeches?

Accepting an award is like walking a tightrope.

You need to be gracious, grateful, and humble, yet not so humble or self-deprecating that the audience thinks you are trivializing the honor. In general, Academy Award speeches are not the best examples of great acceptance speeches.

There are, however, many unforgettable moments.

Fripp presentation about Life Lessons from Movie Stars and Hollywood

A few of my personal favorites:

When Russell Crowe won an Oscar for The Gladiator (2000), he dedicated it to “Everyone who has seen the downside of disadvantage.” Then he won the 2002 Golden Globe Award for A Beautiful Mind. First, he gave credit to the characters in the film, offering special thanks to “John and Alicia Nash, for living such an inspirational love story.” He added, “A Beautiful Mind is just a movie, folks, but hopefully it will help us open our hearts to believe that something extraordinary can always happen in our lives.” Wow! His use of alliteration ‘downside of disadvantage’ makes my toes tingle and my eyes water.

It’s okay to be excited. The audience is on your side.

Sally Field’s joy when she won the 1979 Academy Award for Norma Rae has never been forgotten: “You like me! You really like me!”

And when she won the 1987 Oscar for Moonstruck, Cher said, “I know this does not mean I am somebody, but I am on my way to becoming somebody.”

Humility goes a long way.

In 2002, action star Harrison Ford was honored with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Cecil B. DeMille Award for “Outstanding Contribution to the Entertainment Field.” Or more specifically, thirty-five movies over four decades, including Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Witness, The Fugitive, and Patriot Games. “In anticipation of tonight,” he said, “I wrote two speeches, a long one and a short one. I’ll give you the short one, ‘Thank you.’ It seems there might be enough time for the long one as well, which is, ‘Thank you very much.’”

What is deeply personal is also universal.

Hilary Swank, Best Actress, Million Dollar Baby, gave hope to so many watching at home with, “I’m just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream. I never thought this would ever happen.”

Sidney Poitier, Best Actor, The Defiant Ones, reminded us to keep going with, “It has been a long journey to this moment.”

Lupita Nyong’o, Best Supporting Actress, 12 Years a Slave, said, “When I’m being true to myself, I can avail myself to extraordinary things such as this. You have to allow for the impossible to be possible.”

What can you learn from these short segments that could apply to your presentations?  Do you need help? Give me a call!

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