10 iconic moments that created history at the Oscars

Updated: Feb 09, 2020, 13:26 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Los Angeles

Truly a world event, the Academy Awards have enjoyed a plethora of some of the most iconic moments and we are summing them all up for you

The Oscar trophy
The Oscar trophy

Receiving an Academy Award is the pinnacle of any actor's success story. As the who's who of the global film industry come together under one roof to celebrate this pivotal moment, the sheer madness on the red carpet and on the stage often lead to some of the most memorable Oscar moments for the world to see and remember.

As the high-stakes event lends itself to raw moments of thrill, anxiety and anticipation even among celebrities, their rare moments of candour go on to become some of the best water cooler conversations for years to come - sometimes heartwarming and often hilarious. Read: pizza fiestas, celebrity selfies and red carpet faux pas. Here are 9 iconic Oscar moments to relive while you wait for the 92nd Academy Awards to air:

1. Marlon Brando refusing his Oscar

Marlon Brando

Which actor would refuse the movie industry's heftiest honour? Well, Marlon Brando would, and for a very unexpected reason. Instead of attending and collecting his Oscar statue in 1973 for his gut-wrenching role as Vito Corleone in The Godfather, he decided to boycott the event altogether and send the Native American civil rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather to the podium instead. While there, she read a letter from the actor that explained why Brando was rejecting the Oscar – due to "the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry." Not only did Marlon Brando's rejection of the Oscar go down in history as one of the most memorable moments of Oscar history, but this incident has also been etched onto the minds of audiences because The Godfather was a legendary film, and had saved Brando's career from hitting a point of no return.

2. Hattie McDaniel became the first black Oscar winner

Hattie Oscar

Hattie McDaniel had broken many stereotypes when she won the award for her portrayal of Mammy, a slave in the Georgian plantation in the classic film – Gone With The Wind. For the 1940 awards, she was made to sit at the back due to segregation. Yet, her Oscar win urged her forward to the front and on-stage, paving the way for many more people of colour to be nominated and win thereon.

3. Heath Ledger's posthumous Oscar

Heath Ledger

Hearts were shattered worldwide at the shocking demise of one of Hollywood's most iconic and versatile actors. Heath Ledger not only captured the true essence of every character he portrayed, but also weaved stories around it. He was one of the most stand-out characters from the film The Dark Knight, and it came as no surprise when he won the award for best supporting actor posthumously at the 2008 Oscars ceremony. His daughter going on-stage on his behalf to collect the award didn't leave a dry eye in the auditorium, or anywhere in the world. 

4. Crash winning the Best Picture Oscar


Winning an Oscar is every director and producer's dream. But Paul Haggis was left truly stunned when his movie Crash ended up winning the best film at the Oscars over everyone's favourite and critically-acclaimed movie Brokeback Mountain. Even Jack Nicholson, who was the presenter of the award, was left shocked when he opened the envelope. This moment went down in history to prove that the world's most-esteemed film award ceremony can truly never be predicted.

5. Cuba Gooding Jr's Oscar speech

Cuba Gooding

Imagine winning an Oscar in front of so many people at the event and a million back home. The rush and excitement can often overwhelm one's sense of judgment. While every Oscar Winner is given exactly 45 seconds to make their Oscar speech, for Cuba Gooding Jr it went over a minute. The star won his first Oscar for his portrayal of sportsman Rodney 'Rod' Tidwell in the romantic comedy Jerry Maguire in 1997 and overshot his 45-second timeframe by a minute when he continued his speech over the orchestra.

6. Halle Berry's Oscar win

Halle Berry

Halle Berry's win in 2002 for her role in Monsters Ball was the first-ever for the most coveted title of 'Best Actress' won by a woman of colour. Her heart-warming speech has to date been a topic of conversation owing to how mesmerising it was with diversity at the crux of it.

7. Ellen DeGeneres' celebrity selfie

Ellen DeGeneres

What happens when you get a world-famous comedian and a dozen of the world's favourite movie stars in one frame? A social media meltdown! When Ellen DeGeneres invited a few of the nominees and winners for a selfie and posted it on her social media page, it caused one of the world's biggest social media mediums to suffer a temporary breakdown as it received over 3.4 million retweets from audiences and fans, from across the globe. 

8. Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar speech


For an actor par excellence such as Leonardo, winning an Oscar might have been a dream for far too long. After being snubbed 5 times over a period of 23 years with his first Oscar nomination at the age of 20, the beloved actor was finally called on-stage to collect the golden statue for his performance in The Revenant. Even then, the speech he gave was nothing short of pure magic and went down in Oscar history to become an important event.

9. The La La Land gaffe

La La Land

We all know how La La Land not only won hearts around the world, but also went on a winning spree at the 89th Academy Awards. So, it was not a surprise when they were announced to come on-stage to collect the most sought-after title of Best Picture at the awards ceremony. Only, they didn't win! When the entire cast and crew of the movie came on-stage to give their speech, award presenter Warren Beatty doubled back with the claim of an incorrect announcement, going on to declare that Moonlight, indeed, was the winner that night. While everyone laughed it off, the shock that came with the second announcement has cemented itself as one of the biggest goof-ups yet, and goes to take its place as one of the most iconic moments in the 91 years of Oscar history.

10. Oscars going hostless in 2019

Hostless Oscars

In 2019, the 91st Academy Awards went hostless for the first time in nearly three decades. The move came after Kevin Hart had to step down as the emcee after his past homophobic jokes and remarks came to light and the comedian failed to acknowledge or apologise for them. In fact, the 2020 Oscars will also have no host.

Watch the Oscars live in India on February 10, 2020, at 5:30 am only on Star Movies and Star Movies Select HD.

Also read: 91st Academy Awards: The Oscars will officially have no host this year

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