Best Academy Awards Quotes

Acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards present award winners with an extraordinary opportunity to say something profound and meaningful about their life’s work and career to a worldwide audience of millions. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case, especially when it comes to actors, directors, and screenwriters who should know better  — prepared remarks are infinitely better than impromptu mindless prattle (recall Hamlet’s advice: “Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc’d it to you, trippingly on the tongue…”). Although on the big screen, some actors give the impression that they are intelligent, well-educated, and articulate that is largely due to a gifted scriptwriter’s eloquent script, the quality of the role (perhaps the actor plays a king, teacher, or doctor), and the director’s off-screen directions. Left to their own devices, the results are less impressive, as evidenced by the rather embarrassing rambling and incoherent remarks made by the Oscar winners. And the nominees for best Academy Award quotes are:

Sally Field: “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! Thank you.”

Hillary Swank: “I’m just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream. I never thought this would ever happen.”

Daniel Day-Lewis: “I do know that I have received so much more than my fair share of good fortune in my life and I’m so grateful to the academy for this useful honor. It’s a strange thing because three years ago before we decided to do a straight swap — I had actually been committed to play Margaret Thatcher and Merrill [Streep] was Stephen’s [Spielberg’s] first choice for Lincoln.”

Jessica Yu: “What a thrill. You know you’ve entered new territory when you realize that your outfit cost more than your film.”

Joe Pesci: “It’s my privilege, Thank you.” [Shortest acceptance speech in Oscar history.]

Cuba Gooding, Jr.: “Everybody who’s involved with this! I love you! I love you! I love you! Everybody involved!”

Robert Benigni: “I would like to be Jupiter and lie down in the firmament and make love to everybody.”

Sacheen Cruz Littlefeather: “I’m representing Marlin Brando this evening, and he has asked me to tell you in a very long speech which I cannot share with you presently because of time, but I will be glad to share with the press afterwards, that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry, excuse me, and on television in movie re-runs and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee. I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening and that in the future, our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity. Thank you on behalf of Marlon Brando.”

Jack Lemmon: “There’s been a lot of criticism over the years over this award, and some of that criticism has been warranted. But whether it’s warranted or not, I think it’s one hell of an honor, and I thank you.”

Jack Nicholson: “I guess this proves there are as many nuts in the Academy as anywhere else.”

Whoopi Goldberg: “As a little kid, I lived in the projects and you’re the people I watched. You’re the people who made me want to be an actor. I’m so proud to be here.”

Kim Basinger: “I just want to thank everybody I’ve ever met in my entire life.’’

James Coburn: “I’ve been working and doing this work for, like, over half my life and I finally got one right I guess.”

Dianne Wiest: “Gee, this isn’t like I imagined it would be in the bathtub.”

Julia Roberts: “I, uh…I have a television, so I’m going to spend some time here to tell you some things. [To orchestra conductor] And, sir, you’re doing a great job, but you’re so quick with that stick, so why don’t you sit. ‘Cause I may never be here again.”

Steven Spielberg: “Am I allowed to say I really wanted this? This is fantastic.”

Sidney Poitier: “It has been a long journey to this moment.”

Meryl Streep: “When they called my name, I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘Oh no. Come on… Her, again?’ You know. But, whatever.”

Halle Berry: This moment is so much bigger than me. It’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”

Angelina Jolie: “I’m in shock. And I’m so in love with my brother right now, he just held me and said he loved me.”

Cuba Gooding, Jr.: “I love you! Tom Cruise, I love you, brother! I love you, man! Everybody, I love you. I love you all . . . I love you. Everybody who’s involved with this, I love you. I love you. Everybody involved.”

Tom Hanks: “I know that my work, in this case, is magnified by the fact that the streets of heaven are too crowded with angels.”

Clint Eastwood: “There are a lot of great movies that have won the Academy Award, and a lot of great movies that haven’t. You just do the best you can.”

Jaime Foxx: She [his grandmother] still talks to me now, only now she talks to me in my dreams. And I can’t wait to go to sleep tonight because we have a lot to talk about. I love you.”

Forest Whitaker: “It is possible for a kid from east Texas, raised in South Central L.A. and Carson, who believes in his dreams, commits himself to them with his heart, to touch them, and to have them happen.”

Gwyneth Paltrow: [After naming nominees] “I don’t feel very deserving of this in your presence.”

Andrew Stanton: [To his wife]: “I wrote it to you in a note in eighth grade, now I can say it in front of one billion people: I love you.”

James Cameron: “I am king of the world.”

Read related post: How Many People Watch the Academy Awards?

For further reading: The Academy Awards: The Complete Unofficial History by Gail Kinn and Jim Piazza, BD&L (2011)

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