Every few weeks during awards season — to fill in those long gaps
between actual developments — we figured we’d whet your Oscars-appetite
by taking a look back at the acceptance speeches of the past decade.
Here’s a look back at the last 10 best supporting actor winners (fun fact: the last four have all had first names that start off with “Christ”!), ranked in order of their entertainment value, with embedded clips for your time-wasting pleasure. To be honest, the
vast majority of the speeches pale in comparison to the supporting women
list we posted last month. And we’ve notably excluded the speech Heath Ledger’s family gave after his posthumous win from the rankings, but you can watch it at the bottom of the article. Feel
free to let us know your own thoughts on the speeches in the comments,
since it’s a pretty subjective system…
1. Christopher Plummer winning for “Beginners” in 2012.
Leave it to Christopher Plummer to be the biggest exception to the rule that the supporting actor winners are nothing in comparison to the supporting actresses’ charms. “You’re only two years older than me, darling,” Christopher
Plummer says to his very first Oscar when he finally gets it in his
hand. “Where have you been all my life?” Which makes for a very charming
start to an entirely charming speech. Plummer was surely well aware he
would probably win, and used that as opportunity to prep something
incredibly graceful and witty — as one would only expect from one of
the classiest acts around. Though notably the Academy-uploaded clip
below cuts the speech off in its final seconds. Plummer thanks his
“long-suffering wife Elaine” and the camera cuts to her. But before he
can finish, the clip abruptly ends. Long-suffering, indeed…
2. George Clooney winning for “Syriana” in 2006.
Almost as reliably charming as Plummer is Mr. George Clooney, who starts things off by joking that the award likely meant he wasn’t winning for best director later that evening (he was nominated for “Good Night and Good Luck”). It continues into an effortlessly funny and thoughtful speech (with nice doses of self-deprecation). He strays from the typical long-list-of-thank-yous and instead gives a proclamation of (perhaps questionable, but we’ll let it slide) pride for being part of the progressive Hollywood community.
3. Javier Bardem winning for “No Country For Old Men” in 2008
It’s entertaining watching Javier Bardem do pretty much anything, and his energy on stage as he wins an Oscar for “No Country For Old Men” is more than electric enough to make this yet another example of that. And his diversion to Spanish (like his now wife Penelope Cruz did when she won a year later), to thank his proud mother who is sitting in the audience is pretty darn adorable.
4. Christoph Waltz winning for “Inglourious Basterds” in 2010.
Short, sweet and sincere, Christoph Waltz’s first of two Oscar speech in just four years (both for Quentin Tarantino movies, no less), is also not particularly memorable. But it’s difficult not to find Waltz’s well-worded series of gratitudes endearing nonetheless, and he gets bonus points for his adorable opener that acknowledges the “uber-bingo” that is both winning an Oscar and having it handed to you by Penelope Cruz.
5. Christian Bale winning for “The Fighter” in 2011.
Bale’s wholly expected win for David O. Russell’s “The Fighter” came
after his co-star Melissa Leo’s infamously insane speech for best
supporting actress (watch that here), so it’s hard for it not to feel like a bit of letdown by comparison. His
starts off by rather cheaply referencing Leo’s “f-bomb” and notes he
won’t be following suit because he’s “done that plenty before.” But
while the speech mostly continues on as a somewhat unaffected list of
thank yous, Bale’s final, emotional shout out to his wife and daughter
ends things off with a welcome vulnerability that makes it worth
6. Christoph Waltz winning for “Django Unchained” in 2013.
the most surprising thing about this year’s ceremony was that Christoph
Waltz ended up going two for two, winning his second Oscar in four years
for his work in “Django Unchained.” But it doesn’t appear that Waltz
lost any of his
humility in the process of this rare feat. He gives a lovely (though
once again not especially distinctive) speech, culminating in a
very nice tribute to Mr. Tarantino, to whom Waltz clearly owes a lot.
7. Morgan Freeman winning for “Million Dollar Baby” in 2005
Renee Zellweger won an Oscar!? That cold reminder is about as
interesting as it gets in this clip, as after she announces Morgan
Freeman’s win for Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby,” the actor is
on and off the stage in about 30 seconds. Like the vast majority of the
speeches on this list, there’s nothing particularly wrong with the
speech. It’s just a little boring, particularly given the decades of
work leading up to Freeman’s win.
8. Tim Robbins winning for “Mystic River” in 2004.
Other than an
emotional Susan Sarandon (and her remarkable cleavage) watching as her
then-husband Tim Robbins wins for “Mystic River,” there’s nothing too exciting about this speech, which is one of two on this
list that comes via a Clint Eastwood film (40% of the last 10 best
supporting actor winners were directed by either Eastwood or Quentin
Tarantino, another fun fact). And Robbins’ final call for victims of violence to not feel
shame in seeking help feels oddly out of place on the Oscar stage.
9. Alan Arkin winning for “Little Miss Sunshine” in 2007.
because Alan Arkin notes that he knows you’re not supposed to
read your speech doesn’t get him off the hook for doing just that. He
barely looks up as he reads off his piece of paper, and you can’t help but wonder what supposed frontrunner Eddie Murphy
would have said if he had won for “Dreamgirls” instead (watching him fake clap
for Arkin is the best thing about the clip).
Heath Ledger winning for “The Dark Knight” in 2009.
It did not seem in good taste to rank the emotional speech of Heath Ledger’s family when they picked up his trophy for “The Dark Knight.” But it’s certainly worth watching both for the tribute Ledger’s family offers him as well as the presentation of the award itself, which involves five previous winners — Christopher Walken, Kevin Kline, Alan Arkin,
Joel Grey and Cuba Gooding Jr. — coming on stage to fete all five
nominees, a lovely thing the Academy should bring back in 2014.