10 Memorable Oscar Acceptance Speeches

Ahead of the 90th Academy Awards, we look back at some of the most touching acceptance speeches
10 Memorable Oscar Acceptance Speeches

"..if I totaled up all of the 'thank yous' that I've heard in all of these years, I wouldn't be able to thank all the people that I really want to. I'm not just talking about the glorious talents that I've worked with on both sides of the camera, but there are so many with whom I've never even worked that I owe so much. I mean, how do I thank Spielberg and Scorsese and Coppola? How do I thank Jean Vigo, and Carl Dreyer, and Willy Wyler, and Kurosawa, and Buster Keaton? And I'm not mentioning the ones that I really stole from. What about the Epsteins for writing a line like, 'Here's lookin' at you, kid?' Or Wilder and Diamond for, 'Well, nobody's perfect.' Or Faragoh for, 'Mother of God, is this the end of Rico?' So, what I guess it comes down to is I'd like to thank the movies. I know that sounds general, but it's very real to me. I've got the best job in the best profession in the world, so I just want to thank all of it."

"If you'll indulge me for a minute—I'm just not used to this, so I had to write this down. I had this thought, and I thought if I ever got up here I would say it. I've been very lucky. I found desire for what I do early in my life and I'm lucky because I had people who encouraged that desire, from Lee Strasberg, to my great friend and mentor Charlie Laughton, to the great writers and filmmakers that I've been fortunate enough to work with. Now, recently a young girl came up to me. I was at a function for the South Bronx, which is where I'm from. And she said that I had encouraged her, and that's not necessarily by my work but just by the fact that we came from the same place. And I just can't forget that girl, and I can't forget the kids out there who may be thinking tonight that if he can do it, I can do it. So this is really a proud and hopeful moment for me, because I want to thank the Academy for giving us a gift of encouragement. And this is a gift, a great gift to me. I thank you all, really. Thank you."

After jumping over chairs and making his way to the podium to accept the award for Best Foreign Language Film, actor-director Roberto Benigni made his way to the stage a second time for Best Actor in Life Is Beautiful (1999). He said, "This is a terrible mistake because I used up all my English. I am not able to express all my gratitude, because now, my body is in tumult because it is a colossal moment of joy so everything is really in a way that I cannot express. I would like to be Jupiter! And kidnap everybody and lie down in the firmament making love to everybody, because I don't know how to express."

"I'm a little worried, because I don't feel that I understand cinema yet. Cinema is a marvelous thing, but to grasp its true essence is very, very difficult. But what I promise you is that from now on I will work as hard as I can at making movies and maybe by following this path I will achieve an understanding of the true essence of cinema and earn this award."

"Thank you to the Academy for this incredible recognition. It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else's. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance. And for Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own." She then went on to thank her director, cast, crew, family, school and friends before closing with, "When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you're from, your dreams are valid. Thank you."

Sidney Poitier was awarded an Honorary Award in recognition of his "remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being". He said it would not have been possible without "an untold number of courageous, unselfish choices made by a handful of visionary American filmmakers, directors, writers and producers; each with a strong sense of citizenship responsibility to the times in which they lived; each unafraid to permit their art to reflect their views and values, ethical and moral, and moreover, acknowledge them as their own."

"First I'm going to thank Don, because when you thank your husband at the end of the speech they play him out with the music, and I want him to know that everything I value most in our lives you've given me. And now secondly, my other partner. Thirty-seven years ago, my first play in New York City, I met the great hairstylist and makeup artist Roy Helland. And we worked together pretty continuously since the day we clapped eyes on each other. His first film with me was Sophie's Choice, and all the way up to tonight when he won for his beautiful work in The Iron Lady thirty years later. Every single movie in between. And I just want to thank Roy, but also I want to thank — because I really understand I'll never be up here again. I really want to thank all my colleagues, all my friends. I look out here and, you know, I see my life before my eyes: my old friends, my new friends. And really, this is such a great honor, but the thing that counts the most with me is the friendships and the love and the sheer joy we have shared making movies together. My friends, thank you, all of you, departed and here, for this, you know, inexplicably wonderful career. Thank you so much. Thank you."

In 1997, Stanley Donen, noted choreographer and film director most known for co-directing Singin' In The Rain was presented with an Honorary Award by Martin Scorsese. "Tonight, words seem inadequate. In musicals that's when we do a song..," he said, before breaking into song. "I'm going to let you in on the secret of being a good director. For the script you get Larry Gelbart, or Peter Stone, or Huyck and Katz, or Frederic Raphael — like that. If it's a musical, for the songs you get George and Ira Gershwin, or Arthur Freed and Herb Brown, or Leonard Bernstein and Comden and Green, or Alan Lerner and Fritz Loewe — like that. Then you cast Cary Grant, or Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Sophia Loren, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Burt Reynolds, Gene Hackman or Frank Sinatra — like that. When filming starts you show up and you stay the hell out of the way. But you've got to show up, you've got to show up. Otherwise you can't take the credit and get one of these fellas. Thank you very much."

In 2001, director Steven Soderbergh was nominated for Best Director for 2 films – Eric Brokovich and Traffic. He won the Oscar for Traffic. He said, "Suddenly, going to work tomorrow doesn't seem like such a good idea. My daughter Sarah's asleep in London. She's missing this, unfortunately. There are a lot of people to thank. Rather than thank some of them publicly, I think I'll thank all of them privately. What I want to say is — I want to thank anyone who spends part of their day creating. I don't care if it's a book, a film, a painting, a dance, a piece of theater, a piece of music… Anybody who spends part of their day sharing their experience with us. I think this world would be unliveable without art, and I thank you. That includes the Academy. That includes my fellow nominees here tonight. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for this."

In 2007, Martin Scorsese was presented the Best Director award for The Departed by long-time close friends Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola. Many believed it was long overdue. "Could you double-check the envelope?", he joked. "So many people over the years have been wishing this for me, strangers, you know. I go walking in the street people say something to me, I go in a doctor's office, … people are saying, 'You should win one, you should win one.' I go for an x-ray, 'You should win one'."

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