By Daniel Welsh
Awards season is almost over for another year, but before Hollywood can put its feet up, there’s still the small matter of the
Oscars – undeniably the biggest night in the film calendar.
Based on the last few years alone, it’s pretty much guaranteed that we’re in for a few memorable moments, whether that’s someone making a splash with their acceptance speech, turning heads on the red carpet or going a bit rogue when the spotlight is on them.
With more than 90 years to go through, we’ve raided the Oscars vaults for some of our favourite moments from past Academy Awards, starting with our absolute stand-out…
John Travolta struggles with Idina Menzel’s name (2014)
During the 2014 broadcast, HuffPost fave John Travolta was recruited to welcome Frozen star Idina Menzel to the stage, so she could perform Let It Go.
Unfortunately, due to John’s apparent struggles reading from an autocue, he instead introduced “the wickedly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem” – a moment he’s still struggling to live down all these years later.
Jennifer Lawrence trips up the stairs to collect her Oscar… (2013)
In a moment where the whole world held its breath in unison, Jennifer Lawrence took a tumble as she went to accept her Best Actress prize, for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook.
After getting a standing ovation, she joked: “You guys are just standing up ‘cos you feel bad that I fell, which is embarrassing, but thank you.”
…and then does the same thing a year later (2014)
A year later, Jennifer returned to the Oscars, where she was once again nominated for her role in American Hustle.
While she didn’t pull off the Oscars double, she did pull off the falling-over-at-the-Oscars double, which… is still something.
Sally Field gives a *very* passionate speech (1985)
“You like me, you really,
really like me,” is an oft-quoted awards show line, but as it turns out, that’s not actually what Sally Field said.
“I want to say thank you to you,” she told the audience at the 1985 Oscars, “I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time [she won an Oscar], 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!”
What’s also often overlooked is the fact she did make the crowd laugh along with her speech, even if audiences at home were seemingly less impressed.
ABC Photo Archives via Getty Images
…and so does Gwyneth Paltrow (1999)
After appearing in around 20 films, Gwyneth finally picked up an Oscar in 1999, for her performance in Shakespeare In Love, and struggled to get her words out through her tears.
This would prove to be Gwyneth’s only Academy Award nomination (so far, at least!), but at least she managed to get the Oscar on her first try.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY via Getty Images
This bizarre opening number (1989)
The 1989 Academy Awards went down in the history books for cooking up a chaotic opening number that saw Rob Lowe duetting with Snow White, as well as appearances from the likes of Lily Tomlin and Vincent Price.
Viewers were not impressed, and it would be 30 years before the Oscars would go ahead without a host. So… watch this space, we suppose.
Sacha Baron Cohen as The Dictator covers Ryan Seacrest in “ashes” (2012)
Yeah, Seacrest really wasn’t loving this, was he?
Hattie McDaniel makes history with her Oscars win (1940)
Gone With The Wind actress Hattie McDaniel’s Best Supporting Actress win at the 12th Academy Awards was a particularly important one, as she became the first African-American to take home an Oscar for her role as Mammy, the head slave at the O’Hara family’s plantation.
While many refer back to this as a progressive moment, it should be noted that Hattie’s win came at a time when segregation was still in place. This meant she was not able to sit with her Gone With The Wind co-stars during the ceremony, with film producer David O. Selznick having to call in a favour for her to be allowed to attend at all.
Precious actress Mo’nique paid homage to Hattie when she picked up the same award 70 years later.
Bettmann via Getty Images
Halle Berry is the first black woman to win Best Actress (2002)
“This moment is so much bigger than me,” Halle began, before listing off the names of the black actresses who had come before her, including Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, as well as her peers, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox.
She said she hoped her win might represent “a chance” for “every nameless, faceless woman of colour”.
Sadly, Halle remains the only woman of colour to have been named Best Actress, lamenting 15 years later that she felt the win “meant nothing”.
Halle’s victory came 39 years after Sidney Poitier became the first African-American winner in the Best Actor category. His future successors have included Forest Whitaker, Jamie Foxx and Denzel Washington.
SGranitz via Getty Images
Kathryn Bigelow is the first female director to be recognised by the Academy (2009)
Kathryn’s efforts at the helm of The Hurt Locker made her the only woman to have won in the Best Director category.
In the decade since her win, only one woman, Greta Gerwig, has been nominated in the same category.
Jordan Peele takes home Best Original Screenplay (2018)
It took 90 years for an African-American star to win Best Original Screenplay, with that honour going to Jordan Peele in 2018.
He won the Academy Award for Get Out, for which he was also nominated for Best Director. Get Out was also up for Best Picture that year, while lead actor Daniel Kaluuya also received a nod.
Marlon Brando declines to turn up to collect his Oscar (1973)
Marlon Brando’s win for The Godfather was, without doubt, a Big Deal, so when he refused to show up to collect his award, it raised a lot of eyebrows.
Instead, Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native-American actress who collected the award on his behalf, explaining that he wasn’t present because he was protesting Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans on the big screen.
Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
Björk debuts the most iconic dress in Oscars history (2001)
Well, she was never going to pass by unnoticed, was she?
Björk was nominated for her first Oscar in 2001, for her contribution to the Dancer In The Dark soundtrack, and made headlines for her swan-inspired dress, which included dropping eggs along the red carpet.
Wally Skalij via Getty Images
Angelina Jolie leg bombs for her life (2012)
All these years later, it feels like the reaction to Angelina Jolie’s leg bomb might have been a bit OTT, but back in 2012, her errant right leg really felt like a moment.
Angelina Jolie and brother James Haven make an entrance (2000)
Back in 2000, Angelina won her first Oscar for her role in Girl, Interrupted.
Her win was somewhat overshadowed by her red carpet appearance with brother James Haven, who she kissed on the lips and declared she was “so in love with”.
Years later, she admitted she was “disappointed” with the “circus” that surrounded the incident, explaining that she and James had always relied on one another as the children of divorced parents.
This Oscars selfie (2014)
And yes, there’s Angelina again, this time in a huge selfie with a star-studded cast including Meryl Streep, Lupita Nyong’o, Bradley Cooper, Jared Leto and yes, that’s Kevin Spacey right in the middle, years before he would be hit with multiple allegations of sexual abuse.
The photo – shared on host Ellen Degeneres’ Twitter page – quickly broke records as the most retweeted image in the site’s history, beating an image previously shared by then-President Barack Obama.
Remember, even the word “selfie” was quite a new thing back then, so while the furore around this photo might seem a bit silly even just a few years later, we promise it actually was a big deal at the time.
An actual streaker storms the stage (1974)
In 2001, this unexpected shocker was voted the “most memorable” moment in Oscars history.
We’re particularly fond of host David Niven’s quick-thinking response: “The only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings.”
Sam Smith gets his wires a little crossed (2016)
Sam Smith made a huge blunder during his Academy Awards acceptance speech, describing himself as the “first openly gay man to win an Oscar”.
His comments sparked a huge backlash, particularly from members of the LGBTQ+ community, including past Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. Many called for him to know his LGBTQ+ history before speaking out on such a public platform.
Brie Larson refuses to applaud for Best Actor Casey Affleck (2017)
Many picked up on the fact that when presenting Casey Affleck with his Oscar in 2017, Brie Larson did not applaud for the actor, which many took as a response to the accusations of workplace sexual harassment that he’d faced years earlier.
She later told Variety Fair: “I think that whatever it was that I did onstage kind of spoke for itself. I’ve said all that I have to say on that topic.”
Leonardo DiCaprio finally gets his Academy Award (2016)
The road to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscars win was a long one, consisting of a total of six nominations spread out over 12 years.
In 2016, the whole world was rooting for Leo, and he eventually landed the Academy Award for his role in The Revevnant, using his acceptance speech to shine a light on environmental issues, a cause close to his heart.
The confusion over who won Best Picture (2017)
Watch. And. Cringe.