The Oscars are just a couple days away, and surely one of the big highlights of the event will be the speeches -- for better or for worse. As Melissa Leo can surely attest, a bad or bizarre (or both) Oscar speech can be the next morning's top water cooler topic, and haunt you for the rest of your career.
So Indiewire asked our trusty New York interns -- Cristina Alejandra Gonzalez, Mark E. Lukenbill, Cameron Sinz and Erin Whitney -- to browse through the Academy's archive of past Oscar speeches and pick out 10 that stood out as examples for whoever makes it to the podium this weekend (note that they are all from the past 15 years or so, as the Academy archive doesn't go back much further).
For your consideration...
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (Best Original Screenplay, 1998)
Hollywood loves a feel good story and no story is sweeter than that of childhood friends who grow up to not only act together but write an Oscar-winning film. Looking back at Ben Affleck's and Matt Damon's Oscar speech for "Good Will Hunting" we can see just how far the pair have come. Understandably nervous and joyous at their first big win they rush through their thank you's, Ben's voice cracks on several occasions and they make charming asides about their haphazard speech. Adding to their appeal, their speech ended with a thank to the city of Boston; demonstrating their humility and appreciation for a pivotal moment in their lives. While they are now regularly cool calm and collected, their creative endeavors are still plentiful as we can see from this year's "Argo" and "Promised Land." [Cristina Alejandra Gonzalez]
Michael Caine (Best Supporting Actor, 2000)
It's not uncommon for award winners to mention their fellow nominees in their acceptance speeches, but none have gone so far to dedicate their speech to the others as the humble Sir Michael Caine did. Honored with his first Oscar in 1987 for "Hannah and Her Sisters," Caine was kept from accepting his golden statue by filming "Jaws: The Revenge," two terribly unfortunate things. Twelve years and five Oscar nominations later the Cockney actor finally got his chance to take the spotlight with his Best Supporting win for “The Cider House Rules,” but instead turned it over to admire the other nominees. After a 20-second standing ovation Caine insisted that while he won the Oscar, he was not the winner and went on to admire the performances and careers of Jude Law, Tom Cruise, Michael Clarke Duncan, and specifically pointed out 11-year-old Haley Joel Osment, giving him probably the best compliment of his young life. If anyone knows how to accept an Oscar with genuine respect and finesse it's a knighted Sir. [Erin Whitney]
Marion Cotillard (Best Actress, 2007)
It's always exciting to watch an actor completely lose themselves to the shock and joy of winning on stage, but the bursting emotions of Marion Cotillard in 2007 were a genuine delight. Approaching the stage for her Best Actress win for "La Vie En Rose" with hands clasped over her mouth -- almost as surprised as fellow nominee Cate Blanchett's excited reaction -- Cotillard was the true definition of speechless. Nearly shaking she gasped for air to thank director Olivier Dahan, gasped a few more times, then not knowing what more to say spoke from the heart exclaiming, "Thank you life! Thank you love! It is true, there is some angels in this city!" Sometimes the best speeches come from those who truly let themselves unravel on stage, letting reactions say more than words. [Erin Whitney]