The Oscars have long been a place for ornate speeches and embarrassing missteps. Anytime you mix bright lights, adrenaline, competition and a room full of artists, something wild is bound to happen. And with this year marking the 90th Academy Awards, we thought it would be the perfect time to put together a list of our favorite memorable speeches. Good, bad, ugly, funny or strange – the Oscars have seen it all.
1. Adrien Brody kisses Halle Berry
It might not be the words themselves that were memorable, but when 29-year old Adrien Brody became the youngest Best Actor winner ever for The Pianist in 2003, he created one of the most iconic moments in Academy Awards history. Competing against titans of the industry and previous Oscar-winners Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine, Nicolas Cage and Daniel Day-Lewis, the stunned and ecstatic Brody took to the stage and planted a big smooch on presenter Halle Berry.
2. 72-year-old Jack Palance does push-ups
When 72-year-old Jack Palance won Best Supporting Actor in 1992 for City Slickers, he found an incredibly memorable way to show that age is just a number.
After referring to how many directors questioned what an old-timer could handle, Palance got down on the floor and proceeded to do a number of one-armed push-ups to a stunned and cheering audience.
3. Marlon Brando sends Native American activist in his place
After wowing audiences as Vito Corleone in The Godfather, it seemed as if the renowned Marlon Brando had a second Oscar win coming his way in 1973.
Despite a great chance at victory, the actor declined to attend, instead sending Native American rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather in his stead. During the victory speech, Littlefeather read aloud a letter written by Brando that bemoaned the treatment of American Indians by the film industry.
4. Sally Field’s “You like me, you really like me!” speech
“You like me, you really like me!” Sally Field’s memorable 1985 Oscar speech when she won Best Actress for Places in the Heart is often parodied, but actually misquoted.
Overcome with earnestness and excitement for her second Oscar after winning five years earlier for Norma Rae, this is what Field actually said: “This means so much more to me this time… But I want to say thank you to you… 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!”
Though the moment has been chewed over by parody and mockery since then, it was a real swoon-worthy moment at the time. It just goes to show that, though this was Field’s second Oscar victory, a little assurance goes a long way.
5. Robin Williams pays an emotional tribute to his father
Is there anyone in history with a mouth like Robin Williams? The notorious improviser won his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Good Will Hunting in 1998 and graced the stage with his usual warmth and charm, quipping, “This might be the one time I’m speechless” and “Thank you, Ben and Matt, I still want to see some ID.”
Brimming with tears, Williams pointed to Heaven and said, “And most of all, I want to thank my father, up there, the man who when I said I wanted to be an actor, he said, ‘Wonderful, just have a backup profession like welding.'”
6. Patricia Arquette takes a stand for women’s rights
When she won Best Supporting Actress in 2015 for her decade-spanning performance in Boyhood, Hollywood vet Patricia Arquette made it clear that the wage gap between men and woman could not stand.
We’ll let her put it in her own words, “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation: We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”
7. Angelina Jolie
Angelina’s controversial Oscar moment may seem like a million years ago after the Brangelina era and a later-career turn to directing, but there was a time when Angelina’s acceptance words were on everyone’s lips.
After winning for her harrowing performance in Girl, Interrupted, she remarked that she was so in love with her brother, whom she was later seen kissing in a way that made some people very uncomfortable.
8. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon
Continuing the trend of blistering earnestness, these two young bucks were simply overjoyed to win for Best Original Screenplay for their work on Good Will Hunting. Overcome with glee, it was refreshing to see two men that would eventually take over Hollywood caught up in the spotlight and glory.
“We’re just two really young guys,” Ben Affleck said, as Matt Damon began shouting out random names, including “everyone back in Boston.”
9. Joe Pesci
Forget lavishness, forget grandiloquence. Sometimes the best words are few. When Pesci won Best Supporting Actor in 1991 for his motormouthed, murderous character in Goodfellas, he took the stage only to say, “It’s my privilege. Thank you.” Keep it classy, Joe.
At just five words, his is one of the shortest speeches in Oscar history – but shockingly, not the absolute shortest.
10. Ruth Gordon
When beloved veteran actor Ruth Gordon won Best Supporting Actress in 1969 for her work in Rosemary’s Baby, she gave a speech that matched her personality perfectly.
A known sass and humorist, the 72-year-old Gordon commented “I can’t tell you how encouraging a thing like this is.” That’s what 50 years in the business of show will get you.
11. Andrew Stanton
Director Andrew Stanton accepted the award for Best Animated Feature for Finding Nemo in 2004 with one of the most heartfelt and touching lines in modern Oscar history. First, he thanked the Academy, his parents and his children – typical of most Oscar speeches.
But then he moved audiences around the world with this gem: “And to my wife Julie, I wrote it to you in a note in eighth grade and now I can say it in front of a billion people – I love you.”