Memorable acceptance speeches at Hollywood award functions
What better platform for film celebrities to make the most of the podium so as to divert attention to a greater cause?
The recently-concluded Golden Globes has set the Hollywood award season in motion. Like they say in showbiz, the show will go on as major as well as not-so-major award ceremonies will continue to take place over the next few weeks. And along with the gold-hued gong, the winners from the film fraternity will be expected to deliver an acceptance speech on stage.
The usual routine is making a list of all the people the awardee wishes to thank but many a times, we come across film celebrities mentioning something that wasn't really expected, thus making their speech memorable.
It could be anything from a recent political event that concerns them to a social comment that might be objective in nature or just personal belief for that matter. Regardless, such speeches are always welcome as they not only up the entertainment quotient but also enlighten the world at large. hitlist highlights a few of them.
Figure of speech: Daniel Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire shocked the world with eight Oscar wins, including Best Picture and Best Director in 2009. But for desis back home, what really mattered was AR Rahman picking up two Oscars for Best Song and Best Music. During his speech, the maestro made a sly reference to the communal politics by saying, "All my life, I have had a choice of hate and love. I chose love and I am here."
Figure of speech: While accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's Golden Globes, the celebrated actor-filmmaker took the opportunity to express his appreciation for his wife — human rights activist Amal Alamuddin — before launching words in support of the much-publicised Paris freedom march. He even ended his speech with "Je suis Charlie" in support of those who were gunned down at Charlie Hebdo's office in Paris.
Figure of speech: There are very few people around who can claim to have won an Oscar as well as a Nobel. Al Gore's activism makes him an interesting exception. When he won the Oscar for his documentary An Inconvenient Truth (2006), he cracked a joke on him losing the presidency battle to George W Bush before launching into remarks on how our planet has "everything" except the "will to act" against global warming.
Halle Berry and Lupita Nyong'o
Figure of speech: So far, only seven black actresses have won an Oscar. But two of them, Berry — who won for her leading role in Monster Ball (2001) and Nyong'o — who won for her supporting role in 12 Years a Slave (2013) — ensured they didn't forget their roots. Both thanked their predecessors as well as "every nameless, faceless person of colour" without making a huge cry about racism. The point was made though and effectively so.
Figure of speech: Last year, Jared finally won an Oscar for his drag act in the super-serious Dallas Buyers Club. After accepting the golden statuette, he thanked his mother for taking care of him despite being a teenager herself during his birth. Later, he plugged his music band too. Finally, he paraded off with an awkward speech rallying support to democracy in Ukraine and Venezuela at the time.
Figure of speech: In 2010, when this French actress attended the Cannes in regards to Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy, Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was supposed to be on the jury. But due to imprisonment by Iranian government, he couldn't be part of the world's biggest film festival. Turns out while discussing his arrest, Binoche broke down without making a single remark.
Figure of speech: Once you take a look at his filmography, it's obvious that this documentary maker's pursuit of truth — or propaganda, depending on your perception — is relentless. No wonder when he won the Best Documentary Award for Bowling for Columbine (2002), he couldn't resist from taking a dig at George Bush Jr's so-called war on terrorism. So much so that the orchestra chimed in to make him stop his speech!
Figure of speech: Known for his eccentric behaviour, he got on stage to accept the Best Actor Award for his performance in Milk (2008). After thanking everyone under the sun except his then wife, actress Robin Wright, Penn touched both political chords — by praising President Obama's election — and social conventions — by ostracising the homophobic protestors gathered outside.
Figure of speech: When A Separation bagged the Best Foreign Language film in 2012, it was a victory for Iranian cinema per se. After all, despite so many laurels from across the globe, no other Iranian film has managed to win an Oscar. As a result, director Asghar Farhadi's speech on the podium was politically relevant as he made a case for those of his fellow countrymen who have absolutely nothing to do with politics.
Figure of speech: Only four actors have won back-to-back Oscars. Tom Hanks happens to be one of them. His debut Academy win took place at the 1994 Oscars for his portrayal of a gay lawyer in Philadelphia (1993). And during his acceptance speech, he struggled to keep himself from crying. What's more significant is his mentioning of two personalities — both gay — from his early days who influenced him towards taking up acting as a career.
Figure of speech: There's a reason why this particular British actress was hailed for her outspokenness. When she won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role gong for her role in Julia (1978), she decided to direct her acceptance speech to bash the Jewish Defense League. Redgrave didn't hesitate to call them "a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums" for criticising her participation in a Palestinian documentary. Too intense but well played.
Robert De Niro
Figure of speech: This legendary actor was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Golden Globes in 2012. However, during his acceptance speech, he cracked what might some construe as either black humour or racist jokes. He even mentioned "coloured" actors such as Javier Bardem and Megan Fox while he was at it. A year later, his performance in The Silver Linings Playbook was snubbed by the very award function next year.
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
Figure of speech: Her touching film, Saving Face, garnered the Best Documentary (Short) Award in 2012. The Pakistani filmmaker, along with co-director Daniel Junge, got on stage to accept the honours. Junge took the opportunity to thank his producers and wife while Chinoy dedicated her entire speech to the people of Pakistan; especially those who were fighting against the rampant acid attacks on women in her country.
It's not always that Hollywood stars decide to talk about their cause at an awards ceremony. 2014 saw two instances of speech videos from United Nations going viral, not just because of the stardom attached but also because of the words used.
Emma Watson knew what she was up to when she accepted the invitation to speak at the UN. The topic being feminism (or should we say the plight of women in a major part of the world) and the Harry Potter star nailed it. With Ban Ki-moon seated next to her, Watson didn't miss a beat.
Leonardo DiCaprio might have commitment issues but the acclaimed actor has his heart in the right place when it comes to global warming. At a UN climate change summit, the heavily bearded, pony-tailed actor took the stage and delivered a riveting speech on renewable energy's urgency. He ended his remarks with the now-famous quote "Leaders of the world, I pretend for a living. But you do not."