The Oscars ceremony is generally considered to be Hollywood’s most glamorous evening, with its share of highlights over the 92 editions already organized. Between laughter, emotion, unlucky mistake and embarrassment, here are five of the most memorable of them.
The most striking episode in recent Academy Award history took place in 2017, when the supreme award for “Best Picture” was awarded. The prestigious golden statuette had briefly gone to glitter comedy La La Land when it was his competitor Moonlight, a much more serious drama, which was the real winner.
The experts of the company PricewaterhouseCoopers, in charge of counting and keeping the votes of the Academy, had quite simply given to the presenters, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the bad envelope … The one which had been read in front of millions of televiewers was a duplicate of the award for best actress, which actually rewarded Emma Stone for her role in La La Land.
This blunder was arguably the worst in the long history of the Oscars. “It was a terrible fiasco“, wrote at the time the critic Jeff Jenson in the magazine Entertainment Weekly. “We were embarrassed for Dunaway and Beatty, who obviously knew something was wrong when he opened the envelope but didn’t know how to do it.“
In March 1973, Marlon Brando won the Oscar for Best Actor for his impressive performance in The Godfather, winning against competitors like Michael Caine, Peter O’Toole and Laurence Olivier. But Brando had shunned the awards show, and it was Apache actress Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American rights activist, who took the stage in his place.
She had refused with a wave of the hand the statuette held out to her by actor Roger Moore and spoke in front of a dumbfounded audience, explaining that Marlon Brando “regretted very much not being able to accept this very generous price“because he thus wished to protest against the way in which the film industry treated Amerindian actors according to him. This declaration had been greeted by applause and shouts of joy, as well as by some boos.
There have been a few rare draws in Oscar history but few have been as noticed as that of 1969, when the Academy jury failed to decide between Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn for the prize of the best actress. “The winner … we have a tie!“, exclaimed the presenter, Ingrid Bergman, opening the envelope.
Barbra Streisand received her first Oscar for her role as Fanny Brice in Funny girl while Katharine Hepburn, all-round champion in acting with four Oscars in total, triumphed in The lion in winter.
Only Barbra Streisand attended the ceremony and she launched “Hi my pretty!“by receiving the precious statuette.
Actors often get overwhelmed by their emotions when they receive an Oscar, but in 2003 Adrien Brody may have gone a little too far. When he took the stage to receive his award from Halle Berry, the previous year’s Oscar winner for Best Actress, Adrien Brody took everyone by surprise, including the actress, by l ‘suddenly hugging for a brief but passionate kiss on the mouth.
“This was not planned. I didn’t know all about it“, Halle Berry explained in 2017, confirming that, under the effect of surprise, she had decided”to accompany the movement“.
For his part, Brody had claimed that “time had slowed down“for him at the moment but that his enthusiasm had almost deprived him of speech.”When I was done kissing her … they had already lit the sign to say ‘leave the stage, your time is up‘“, he told the Toronto film festival.
Show of strength
The late Jack Palance won his only Oscar in 1992, for a supporting role alongside Billy Crystal in the western comedy Life, love, cows. After receiving the statuette, the actor, 73 years old at the time, gave a brief acceptance speech in which he pinned the producers who are reluctant to hire the comedians “from a certain age“.
“They fail to ask“If they’re still able to do certain things,” Jack Palance had said before starting to do one-handed push-ups on stage, to thunderous applause.
“I didn’t know what else to do“to drive the point home,” he said later.
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Bad envelope, shunned statuette, stolen kiss: the Oscars in five memorable moments