For film fans around the world there’s nothing quite as exciting as the Academy Awards, and our memories of the annual ceremony are about so much more than who won and who didn’t. From acceptance speeches, standing ovations, rejected awards and reading from the wrong envelopes, it’s an event littered with glorious controversy, and here we’re collating our five most memorable moments in the history of the Oscars. Let’s just hope this year throws up a couple more unforgettable surprises of its own.
- 1 – Charlie Chaplin’s 12 Minute Standing Ovation
A one-time resident of the United States, Hollywood’s silent screen legend Charlie Chaplin was banished from his home, having to move to Switzerland in the wake of Joseph McCarthy labelling the esteemed performer a communist. 20 years later he was granted permission back on American soil to pick up an honorary Oscar award for his indelible contribution to cinema. There were special security measures in place for his arrival and departure – which came through an underground garage rather than the artist’s entrance, but his peers were full of admiration. A truly moving moment as he stood out and watched on as almost three thousand people applauded his talents. He didn’t even need to say anything. But then, he never really did.
- 2 – Roberto Benigni Accepts Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film
It was quite a night for Italian performer Robert Benigni, who won the award for Best Actor for his role in the heartbreaking drama Life is Beautiful. When his name was called, while thoroughly deserved, it did come as something of a shock, for it’s extremely rare that the star of a foreign language production is awarded in such a category. In fact Benigni is one of just three to do so, along with actresses Sophia Loren and Marion Cotillard – while coincidentally, it was the former who opened up the envelope with Benigni’s name in it. But it was his actions when accepting the film’s other Oscar, for Best Foreign Language Film, which caught out eye. He short, he climbed on the back of the seats of his fellow guests on his way to the stage to give his acceptance speech. He went on to say that he was so happy he wanted to kiss everybody. We wouldn’t have put it past him to try that too..
- 3 – Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s Red Carpet Appearance
The two genius co-creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, were nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song for ‘Blame Canada’ from their animated musical South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. The controversial comedians were never going to attend the ceremony in a conventional way, but few could have anticipated the pair would take acid and wear dresses. But they did, and it was hilarious. Ridiculing the absurdity of the red carpet culture, perhaps journalists will have to get used to asking, “Who are you wearing? And what are you taking?” from now on.
- 4 -Halle Berry & Denzel Washington Winning on the Same Night
Prior to March the 24th, 2002, only one black actor or actress had ever won the top acting prize at the Academy Awards, which was Sidney Poitier, who won big for his performance in Lilies of the Field in 1964. So the very fact Denzel Washington followed in his footsteps to also win Best Actor for his role in Training Day was significant enough, but for that to happen on the same night Halle Berry won Best Actress for Monster’s Ball, and be the very first black woman to do so, made this a monumental occasion. Let’s just hope it happens again one day.
- 5 – La La Land! No, wait… Moonlight!
Though it’s only recent history, there have been few occasions quite as shocking as last year’s Best Picture gaffe. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty had the seemingly simplistic task of opening up the envelope and reading out the name of the winner of the night’s biggest accolade, and yet they said the wrong film. It’s hard to believe it even happened. Shocking it was to witness, it was also something of a bittersweet moment too. Moonlight were the underdog in the Best Picture race, and their victory was a huge triumph for cinema. To see an independent film starring a black, gay protagonist take home the top prize was nothing short of joyous, and yet to see their big moment taken away from them was sad to see. Suddenly their acceptance speech was tinged with guilt, as they felt sorry for the La La Land collective, who believed they had won just moments earlier. A disappointing, embarrassing moment – but hey, at least the outcome was positive.