Every few weeks during awards season — to fill in those long gaps between actual developments — we figured we’d wet your Oscars-appetite by taking a look back at the acceptance speeches of yore. Or, in this case, the past 10 years (is that yore, yet?).
Starting off with best supporting actress, here’s a ranking of a decade of speeches in order of “enjoyability” (which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good speeches, see #3), with embedded clips for your time-wasting pleasure. And feel free to let us know your own thoughts on the speeches in the comments, since it’s a pretty subjective system…
1. Penelope Cruz winning for “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” in 2009.
There is so much to love about this clip. First, there’s the five
previous winners — Eva Marie Saint, Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn,
Anjelica Huston and Tilda Swinton — coming on stage to fete all five
nominees, which is awe-inspiring and gives each woman their deserved moment (bring this feature back!). And then, after, Swinton says her name in a perfect Spanish accent, Penelope Cruz — in a stunning gown — takes the stage to give us as charming, emotional and sincere an Oscar speech as they come (try not to smile big — or even tear up — when she thanks Pedro Almodovar).
2. Tilda Swinton winning for “Michael Clayton” in 2008. Speaking of Ms. Swinton, her win the year before offered us a speech that really only she could give. Dedicating her speech to her agent (who she also compares physically to the makeup of the Oscar statuette), Swinton seems gloriously unaffected by what was probably the least expected win among the 10 on this list. Refreshingly avoiding sentiment, she effortlessly gives a few thank yous and tells a few good jokes (notably at the expense of George Clooney) before going along on her way.
3. Melissa Leo winning for “The Fighter” in 2011. Among the weirdest (and surely the most enjoyable, at least in a certain way) speech in Oscar history begins with Kirk Douglas offering a mix of charming and creepy as he continuously delays reading the name on that envelope. And while that name — Melissa Leo — was generally quite expected, somewhat less expected was the hysteria the actress offered in a rambling, at times incoherent 3 minute rant that included a rare Oscar speech expletive, thanking the “Academy of Motion Picture Sciences” and the shoulda been a catchphrase “golly, sakes, there’s people up there too” (when she appeared to discover there was more than one level to the then-Kodak Theater audience). Say what you want about Leo’s sanity after watching that speech, but you do have to hand it to her for shamelessly bringing some crazy realness to a show that more often than not offers us restrained and ultimately boring versions of people (who in many cases surely have some — some — of what Leo fighting to get out on stage).
4. Octavia Spencer winning for “The Help” in 2012. “I’m freaking out, I’m sorry,” a shaky, visibly emotional Octavia Spencer blurted out during her pretty darn adorable speech for “The Help.” Not everyone can pull off panic with grace (see the previous on this list, though not that we’re complaining), but Spencer certainly does and we loved her all the more for it.
5. Cate Blanchett winning for “The Aviator” in 2005. Here’s a taste of what could come next year as 2014 best actress frontrunner Cate Blanchett wins her first Oscar for “The Aviator.” Winning for playing Katherine Hepburn (four-time Oscar winner herself), Blanchett is all class as she dedicates her speech to Hepburn and Martin Scorsese, ending things off with a laugh by noting her hope that her son will marry Scorsese’s daughter.
6. Jennifer Hudson winning for “Dreamgirls” in 2007. Considering just two years earlier she was a 7th place contestant on “American Idol,” it’s hard to get all warm and fuzzy when you witness Jennifer Hudson’s rather remarkable rise to fame culminate in an Oscar win for “Dreamgirls,” even if her speech is a bit underwhelming (and does she really need to thank God three times while not saying Beyonce’s name even once?).
7. Mo’Nique winning for “Precious” in 2010. The narrative of Mo’Nique’s Oscar campaign for “Precious” was that, well, there was no campaigning. And she won anyway, which was great and not something Mo’Nique shied away from when she took the stage: “First I would like to the thank the Academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics.” But after a couple of heartfelt thank yous she brings it back to the campaigning by thanking her husband for encouraging her decision not to do so… Which just seemed like overkill if it is indeed about the performance and not the politics.
8. Rachel Weisz winning for “The Constant Gardener” in 2005. Sure, it’s a dignified, well-spoken speech, but there’s really not an entertaining moment in Rachel Weisz’s big Oscar moment (nothing compared to Morgan Freeman trying to pronounce “demonstrative” just before he says her name, at least). And nothing against Weisz, but you can’t help but wish you could have seen her fellow nominees Amy Adams, Catherine Keener, Frances MacDormand and Michelle Williiams up there instead (what a lineup!).
9: Anne Hathaway winning for “Les Miserables” in 2013. Though nowhere near as insufferable as her Golden Globe speech a month earlier, Anne Hathaway’s wholly expected Oscar win for “Les Miserables” came with a wholly unmemorable speech that should make for not much more than a lot of eye rolling. The explosion of internet hate for Hathaway that came during last year’s awards season was arguably a bit petty and unjustified, but there’s no denying her speech was a bore.
10. Renee Zellweger winning for “Cold Mountain” in 2004. Ah, Renee Zellweger: The
Anne Hathaway of 2004. And frankly, we’ll take Hathaway any day over
long-winded speech from Zellweger, which comes complete with bizarrely framed thank you to her “immigrant
mom and dad.”