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Memo To Potential Academy Award Winners: Watch 10 Oscar Speeches To Aspire To

By Indiewire | Indiewire February 21, 2013 at 11:35AM

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.
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Mo'Nique (Best Supporting Actress, 2010)
One of the most powerful, moving, and revering of acceptance speeches -- of and from the winner -- was surprisingly made by a stand-up comedienne. Mo'Nique's speech for her Best Supporting Actress win for "Precious" was one of sheer gratitude and praise as she dedicated it to the first ever African American Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel. Not only showing tribute to the "Gone With the Wind" actress through words, Mo'Nique also honored her and all that her achievement had done for black actors by wearing a similar royal blue dress and flower hair piece that McDaniel wore at the 1940 Oscars. Mo'Nique also addressed the previous controversy behind many journalists urging her to campaign harder to win by repeating her husband's for sound advice saying, "Sometimes you have to forego doing what's popular in order to do what's right." [Erin Whitney]

Christopher Plummer (Best Supporting Actor, 2012)
The fact that this speech saved last years’ Oscars from being a total drag makes it all the more noteworthy. In an otherwise lifeless and insipid ceremony, Christopher Plummer not only won his first Oscar, but became the oldest recipient of an award in Oscar history at 82 for his subtle, tender role as an ailing, recently outed gay retiree in Mike Mills’ Beginners. Opening with the brilliant line, “You’re only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all of my life?” Plummer proved himself to be a class act and a champion of patience. He even took a moment to sincerely congratulate all of his fellow nominees by name, which for peculiarly nominated "Moneyball" actor Jonah Hill should be a prestigious honor all in itself. The extraordinary, uplifting circumstances of the award aside, Plummer proved himself to be so damn good at gracious acceptance speeches that the Academy had to be kicking themselves for not awarding him sooner. Watch it here (embedding was disabled). [Mark E Lukenbill]

Steven Soderbergh (Best Director, 2001)
With Steven Soderbergh bowing into an early retirement this year, it only seems fitting to look back at a watershed year in the director’s career. In 2001, Soderbergh was nominated for Best Director in not one but two films: "Erin Brokovich" and "Traffic," both of which were also nominated for Best Picture. So odds were clearly in his favor when he won the Directing prize (for "Traffic"). Still, the pre-bald director didn’t gloat, and opted to dedicate his award to “anyone who spends part of their day creating.” He backed the statement up with a few extraordinarily eloquent, and yet clearly improvised, lines in favor of making art and thanked artists worldwide, as “life would be unlivable” without them. It’s inspiring stuff, and certainly a nice, selfless way to get at what the awards are (or should be) really about. [Mark E Lukenbill]

Three 6 Mafia (Best Original Song, 2006)
The simple act of awarding Three 6 Mafia an Oscar would likely be enough to instantly put this award on any short list of Academy Award recipients. But when the trio took the stage after shockingly beating out the likes of Dolly Parton and a contribution from that year's best-picture winner "Crash," the most memorable part came when all three members got on stage and did the one thing strangely absent from most year’s broadcasts: they genuinely celebrated, in the process thanking everyone from their family and choreographers to Ludacris and George Clooney. Best Original Song is a notoriously sterile category, and after Eminem’s refusal to make an appearance for his 2002 win for “Lose Yourself,” Three 6 Mafia’s win and speech marked a major step forward for the award’s consideration, and provided some great television in the process. As host Jon Stewart described after they left the stage, “that’s how you accept an Oscar.” [Cameron Sinz]


This article is related to: Academy Awards, Video





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