Speeches can be the highlight or lowpoint of the Academy Awards in any given year. The recipients give them in a moment that must be overwhelming and dreamlike, so things can go awry.
Fortunately, they get a chance to collect themselves before they go backstage to talk to the press, and the Academy sees fit to provide transcripts of both the speeches and interviews for the perusal of film buffs, journalists and the just plain curious.
Reading through them it is easy to see how much we can miss during the live broadcast, and how difficult it must be for the winners to get *everything* in before the “Jaws” music rolls to shame them off stage.
From Daniel Day-Lewis’ characteristically classy acceptance speech to Quentin Tarantino’s more casual approach, Christoph Waltz’s humble and charming acceptance to Jennifer Lawrence’s stunned and self-deprecating thanks, the 85th Annual Academy Awards turned up a wealth of one-liners, quips and gracious praise.
Ben Affleck, Best Picture, ‘Argo’
Ben Affleck has had something of a renaissance in Hollywood, a man who’s star seemed to be fading not so long ago has emerged as an impressive director. He took his time on stage to thank those who didn’t give up on him.
“And I’d just like to say, I was here 15 years ago or something and I had no idea what I was doing. I stood out here in front of you all and really just a kid. I went out and I never thought I would be back here. And I am, because of so many of you who are here tonight, because of this Academy, because of so many wonderful people who extended themselves to me when they had nothing to benefit from it in Hollywood. You know what I mean, I couldn’t get them a job. I want to thank them and I want to thank what they taught me, which is that you have to work harder than you think you possibly can. You can’t hold grudges. It’s hard but you can’t hold grudges. And it doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life because that’s going to happen. All that matters is you gotta get up.”
Grant Heslov, Best Picture, ‘Argo’
In the open to his Best Picture acceptance speech, Grant Heslov quipped, “I know what you’re thinking: the three sexiest producers alive.” As he was flanked by George Clooney and Ben Affleck, we’re not inclined to argue.
Jennifer Lawrence, Best Actress, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
Jennifer Lawrence took everything in stride, including the fact that she fell on the way up to accept her award. She seamlessly transitioned to speech mode by taking a shot at herself to open things up.
“Thank you. You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell and that’s really embarrassing but thank you.”
Daniel Day-Lewis, Best Actor, ‘Lincoln’
The ever cool and collected Daniel Day-Lewis cleverly managed to poke fun at his tendency to get into a role and not transition back out of it by thanking his wife for graciously living with so many strange men over the years.
Steven didn’t have to persuade me to play Lincoln but I had to persuade him that perhaps if I was going to do it that Lincoln shouldn’t be a musical. My fellow nominees, my equals, my betters, I’m so proud to have been included as one amongst you. When we got married 16 years ago, or since we got married 16 years ago, my wife Rebecca has lived with some very strange men. I mean they were strange as individuals and probably even stranger if taken as a group. But luckily she’s the versatile one in the family and she’s been the perfect companion to all of them.
Ang Lee, Best Director, ‘Life of Pi’
The “Life of Pi” director radiated joy as he opened up his speech.
“Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you, movie god!”
Quentin Tarantino, Best Original Screenplay, ‘Django Unchained’
There is never a dull moment when Quentin is in the house. His speech was casual, conversational, and at times, curious.
“That’s cool. Charlize is my neighbor. Very nice to get this from you. Thank you, Mr. Hoffman.”
“Boy oh, boy, you know I’ve been saying things like I want to thank the actors for what they’ve done when it comes to my script. But it’s not just an easy thing to say. It really is why I’m standing here. I actually think if people are like knowing about my movies 30 or 50 years from now it’s gonna be because of the characters that I created. And I really only got one chance to get it right. I have to cast the right people to make those characters come alive and hopefully live for a long time. And, boy, this time did I do it. Thank you so much, guys. Leo ain’t over there, but I’m thanking him, too.”
“Okay, I know, I know. I’m getting off. But one last thing. I would like to say it’s such an honor to get it this year because I have to say in both the original and the adapted categories, the writing is just fantastic. This will be the writers’ year, man. Thank you very much. I love the competition. You guys all wonderful. Peace out.”
Adele, Best Original Song, ‘Skyfall’
Adele and her writing partner, Paul Epworth kept things short and sweet. Our favorite part? How the songstress wrapped things up.
“You’re all amazing.”
Anne Hathaway, Best Supporting Actress, ‘Les Miserables’
Anne Hathaway’s victory was the most certain event of the night. The actress made a somewhat lengthy speech, but her opening and closing lines were our favorite bits.
“It came true.”
“Here’s hoping that someday in the not too distant future the misfortunes of Fantine will only be found in stories and never in real life.”
Christoph Waltz, Best Supporting Actor, ‘Django Unchained’
Christoph Waltz has only been in the Hollywood scene a short while, but we’ve already grown to love the speeches that result from him teaming up with Quentin Tarantino.
“We participated in a hero’s journey – the hero here being Quentin. And you scale the mountain because you’re not afraid of it. You slay the dragon because you’re not afraid of it and you cross through fire because it’s worth it. I borrowed my character’s words so sorry… couldn’t resist.”
Backstage he added:
“Quentin writes poetry, and I like poetry.”
Chris Terrio, Best Adapted Screenplay, ‘Argo’
The scribe behind the Best Picture winner thanked the man who inspired the film.
“I want to dedicate this to a man named Tony Mendez. Thirty-three years ago, Tony, using nothing but his creativity and his intelligence, got six people out of a very bad situation. And so I want to dedicate this to him and the Taylors and the Sheardowns and the people all over the world in the U.S. and Canada and Iran who use creativity and intelligence to solve problems nonviolently.”