Through the years the Academy Awards have given us a vast amount of buzzed about moments. Some endearing, some historic, some scandalous, some shocking and some just plain fabulous.
Cinephiles and non-moviegoers alike tune in each year to see what will play out on the Oscar’s stage. Will the host fall flat or soar? Who will wear the most glamourous dress? Who will win the biggest prizes of the night? Who will give the best speech? And the worst?
Even if you can’t be bothered to watch even a single one of the nominated films, the Academy Awards hold a certain draw. They are a cultural event and a touchstone. Oscar night is a night much like Super Bowl Sunday–it’s a chance to see dreams come true, and when we’re lucky, to be inspired.
Every now and then the stars align and grace us with an unforgettable moment.
After combing through the archives we’ve assembled some of our favorite moments to ever come out of Hollywood’s biggest night. Some were chosen for the joy they brought, others for their historical significance, some for their cultural impact and still others for their poignancy.
Cuba Gooding Jr.’s unforgettable speech
What: Cuba Gooding Jr.’s ecstatic speech after winning Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Jerry Maguire”.
Why we love it: Cuba Gooding Jr.’s joy was infectious and serves as a timeless reminder that winning an Academy Award is not just the collection of an accolade, but is often a wildest dream come true.
The Brat Pack pays homage to John Hughes
What: At the 2010 Academy Awards Molly Ringwald, Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall and Jon Cryer assembled to pay tribute to the late John Hughes.
Why we love it: John Hughes was a singularly extraordinary voice in Hollywood. Seeing him honored in this way reminded us all what a great loss the world suffered when he passed.
Halle Berry makes history
What: Halle Berry became the first African-American to win Best Actress for her turn in ”Monster’s Ball”.
Why we love it: There is nothing more exciting than watching something live and knowing that you are witnessing history. Fortunately for Halle Berry she was wearing a dress incredible enough to live up to the moment too.
Hugh Jackman keeps chivalry alive
What: Hugh Jackman rushed to offer a helping hand to newly minted Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence when she slipped on her way up to accept the award.
Why we love it: Mr. Jackman was by no means the nearest individual to Jennifer, but his gallant rush to help her up was so kind and genuine, it made us all think that we would be okay with taking a tumble if a dashing, fleet-footed man in a tuxedo would be there to help us up.
Lawrence herself was to overcome with trying to recover to notice his offered hand, but she’ll surely have a soft spot for the gent who tried to help her in years to come. For our part, we love her all the more for that incredibly human moment. This author would doubtless have found herself on the floor too.
‘I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me!’
What: Sally Field won her second Best Actress Oscar for “Places in the Heart” and gave one of the most memorable speeches in Oscar history.
Why we love it: An argument could be made that is was the most endearing acceptance speech of all time, and it’s certainly the most misquoted.
This means so much more to me this time. I don’t know why, I think the first time I hardly felt it because it was all so new…but I want to say thank you to you. I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me.
Heath Ledger’s family accepts his Best Supporting Actor award
What: Heath Ledger’s family, father Kim, sister Kate and mother Sally, accepted his Best Supporting actor award which he won posthumously for his electrifying portrayal of the Joker.
Why we love it: It was a sweet, poignant and fitting tribute to an actor who was underrated for so much of his career.
Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first female to win Best Director
What: Kathryn Bigelow made history by becoming the first female to take home the Oscar for Best Director in 2010.
Why we love it: Kathryn put it best, “This really is, there is no other way to describe it, it’s the moment of a lifetime.”
The childhood friends win Best Original Screenplay
What: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon won Best Original Screenplay for “Good Will Hunting”.
Why we love it: There is always something invigorating about seeing fresh life infused into the Hollywood community. On that night it felt as if a new school of Hollywood greats was on the rise, and minus “Gigli” the Boston boys haven’t disappointed us.
Kate Winslet finally wins
What: Kate “The Great” Winslet finally took home Oscar gold for Best Actress in a Leading Role for “The Reader”.
Why we love it: Kate Winslet has had an impressive career top to bottom, and when she finally took home an Oscar on her sixth nomination we half expected “At Last” to play as she made her way up to the stage.
Alfred Hitchcock wins an honorary Oscar
What: Hitch was given the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award–the Academy equivalent of an “Oops, sorry we missed you.”
Why we love it: His brief speech, “Thank you…very much indeed” more than communicated his awareness and displeasure. The speech easily qualifies as one of the classiest burns in history.
Hugh Jackman’s opening number
What: While hosting, Hugh Jackman sang the open of the 81st Annual Academy Awards.
Why we love it: Singing, dancing, cardboard sets…what’s not to love?