The Academy Awards is the one night a year where we get to celebrate the 7th art while seeing all of Hollywood’s A-list celebrities under the same roof. It is pop culture at its finest, therefore bound to give us unforgettable moments. The 2021 Oscars are this Sunday, but while we wait, check some of our favorite things that happened in previous editions.
- Chris Rock’s opening monologue #OscarSoWhite (2006)
Chris Rock was set to be the host of the 2016 Oscars, and everything was great and all, until the nominees were revealed. For the second year in a row, the Academy nominated only white people for acting categories. Chris Rock thought about quitting but thank God he didn’t. He chose to use his platform not only to address the elephant in the room but to ride it. His speech was so uncomfortably necessary, it is a must-watch for everyone. He starts it with a straightforward, genius statement: “Man, I counted at least 15 black people on that montage. I am here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards. You realize if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job. So y’all would be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.” Later, he continues: “What I’m trying to say is, you know, it’s not about boycotting anything. It’s just, we want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors.” If you still haven’t watched it, stop everything you’re doing and do it. It is worth every second.
- Cher’s unforgettable dress (1986)
It must come as no surprise that Cher certainly knows how to use fashion in her favor. When she did not get nominated for her brilliant starring role in “Mask”, the artist came up with a fashionable solution to turn all eyes to her. And oh boy, did she serve! In a Bob Mackie statement piece, history was made. “As you can see, I got my handbook on how to dress like a serious actress.” she joked.
- Halle Berry is the first African American woman to win the Best Actress category (2001)
In 2001, Halle Berry won the Best Actress in a leading role, for her Monster Ball performance, being the first black woman to have won in the category. Her acceptance speech was hopeful. “This moment is so much bigger than me”, she starts. “It’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.” However, shamefully, until this day, she still is the first and only black woman to have won the category. The actress opened up to the Mirror, 20 years after her win: “The heartbreak I have is because I really thought that night meant that very soon after that, other women of color, black women, would stand beside me”. The Academy Awards this year counts with two black female nominees for a leading role, Viola Davis and Andra Day. Let’s root for them and the urgent structural change in Hollywood for people of color.
- “You like me, you really like me!” (1985)
Did you know that this famous quote is actually a misquote? In her 1985 acceptance speech for her second Academy Award, what actress Sally Field really said was: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.” Still an iconic quote if you ask me. One way or another, the misquote was mentioned so many times throughout the years, that it is until this day remembered, having its own special place in pop culture.
- DiCaprio finally wins (2016)
Leonardo DiCaprio was widely known for being snubbed at the Oscars, so much that it became a meme. When the actor was nominated for an Academy Award for the 6th time, everyone was rooting for him. And it ultimately worked! Leo took the golden statuette for his outstanding performance in “The Revenant” and made use of his stage time to address the climate change issue. “Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating”, the actor and activist stated. Bravo, Leo!
- Meryl Streep becomes a meme (2015)
Patricia Arquette, when given the award for best actress in a supporting role, the same category Meryl Streep was nominated, used her time on stage to talk about a political issue: wage equality. She then ended her speech by saying: “It’s time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” The discourse made the crowd go wild and had Streep passionately clapping and pointing at Arquette. Her reaction was so priceless, that it instantly became a meme and is, until this day, one of the most memorable audience reactions on award shows.
- “Moonlight”/”La La Land” mix-up (2017)
A doubled card can really mess things up. The most expected category of the event, the Academy Award for Best Picture, in 2017, was announced to be “La La Land”, the musical romantic comedy-drama. When the crew was on stage, award in hands, mid-speech, something so unexpected happened that even the audience could not believe it. The card was wrong! The actual winner of the evening was “Moonlight”, the coming-of-age drama film. Everything was later explained and solved, but it was probably one of the most unbelievable and awkward moments in TV and Academy Awards history.
- Anna Paquin is adorably speechless (1994)
Anna Paquin, in the 54th edition of the Oscars, won the Best Actress in a supporting role for her performance in “The Piano”. She was only 11 years old at the time. When called up to the stage, the young actress was speechless. She spent almost 25 seconds on stage, holding her first Award, trying to compose herself, while nervously chuckling. Paquin then collects herself and carries on to her speech as if nothing had happened. Isn’t she the cutest?
- Jennifer Lawrence trips on stage (2013)
It is a widely known fact that the actress Jennifer Lawrence is, well, kind of clumsy. Despite that, I believe no one was really expecting this moment to happen. In the 85th edition of the Oscars, when the actress was climbing up the stairs of the stage, to pick up her award for Best Actress for her leading role in “Silver Linings Playbook”, she stepped on her long dress and stumbled. Of course, it became one of the most hilarious and commented moments of the evening and was even referenced on Ellen DeGeneres’ opening monologue in the next year at the 2014 Oscars, when Lawrence yet again fell when arriving at the Red Carpet.
- Parasite dominates the Oscars (2020)
Parasite made history, in the 92nd Oscars, by being the first non-English-language movie to win the category of Best Picture. On the same night, the film’s director and writer Bong Joon-Ho went home with three other Oscars, from the five categories it had been nominated: best director, best international feature, and best original screenplay. It was also the first movie to win both international feature and best picture. “I feel like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now,” said the producer Kwak Sin Ae, during her speech via translator.
The article above was edited by Julia Queiroz.
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