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The Most Memorable Oscar Acceptance Speeches of All Time

Moments worthy of a standing ovation

Sidney Poitier, 1964, Lilies of the Field
Poitier won the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, marking the first time an African American male won an Oscar in the category. 

Julie Andrews, 1965, Mary Poppins
Andrews accepted the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and thanked Walt Disney and the film industry for welcoming her into the business (and into America) with open arms. 

Charlie Chaplin, 1972, Honorary Award
Chaplin received an honorary award for “the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century.” The audience gave Chaplin a 12-minute standing ovation that will live in infamy. 

Marlon Brando, 1973, The Godfather
Brando won the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, but refused to accept it and boycotted the ceremony. The actor sent Sacheen Littlefeather to the stage in his place to protest the way Native Americans are treated in the film industry and for the tragedies at Wounded Knee. 

Sally Field, 1985, Places in the Heart
While on stage accepting the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Field meant to tell the audience, “You like me. You really like me!” in reference to a line from her role in Norma Rae. Field fumbled the words and instead proclaimed, “You like me right now, you like me!” As a result, she became the subject of many parodies.

Robin Williams, 1998, Good Will Hunting
Williams, in true form, accepted the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role with a few light-hearted jokes. He ended his speech with a brief anecdote about his father, who once suggested Williams “have a backup career like welding.”

Gwyneth Paltrow, 1999, Shakespeare in Love
Paltrow sobbed as she dedicated her award for Best Actress in a Leading Role to her family, Harrison Kravis and her deceased cousin, Keith Paltrow. 

Halle Berry, 2002, Monster’s Ball
Through tears, Halle Berry thanked everyone who gave her a chance in the film industry. Her award for Best Actress in a Leading Role marked the first time a woman of color won an Oscar in the category.   

Denzel Washington, 2002, Training Day
Washington—the second African American male to win the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role—candidly noted in his speech that he was chasing Sidney Poitier for 40 years.

Meryl Streep, 2012, The Iron Lady
During her speech for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Streep thanked all those that have helped her along the way, most notably her hair and makeup artist for more than 30 years, J. Roy Helland.

 
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