The thing about Oscar acceptance speeches is this: they are, potentially, the only time we get to see Hollywood actors for who and what they truly are. With a heavy mixture of booze, nerves, and emotion, the potential for both greatness and calamity is magnified way beyond that to which they are used.
This is great as a spectacle. Unless of course they fall back on the tedious thanking of lots of people we've never heard of before trooping back to their seat 15 minutes later.
Which is why we should applaud all of those brave actors who, instead of indulging in a bit do-gooding butt-kissing, decided to say something truly meaningful. To try, in those few short minutes, to say something that might change the life of somebody else.
These are the five most inspiring Oscar acceptance speeches of all time.
5. Halle Berry
When Halle Berry became the first black woman to win an Oscar for 'best actress' for her role as Leticia in Monster Ball, she poignantly remarked,
“This moment is so much bigger than me. This is for every nameless, faceless woman of colour that now has a chance because this door has opened.”
4. Matthew McConaughey
Although Mathew McConaughey's speech may have at first seemed a little egotistic (he did say he was his own hero, after all), it was actually quite inspiring.
He tells a funny anecdote, in his usual southern drawl, about himself and how he's been so successful. But in doing so, he gives some priceless life advice for everybody, not just aspiring actors.
3. Robin Williams
You just knew this guy would be on the list, didn't you? The beating heart of Hollywood for so many years decided to stress the importance of never giving up on your dreams, in his usual funny way of course.
He even shared a touching story about his father who had once told Robin he must have a “backup profession, like welding.”
2. Patricia Arquette
Patricia Arquette's speech on feminism and the inequality between men and women in Hollywood will surely go down as one of the best in the Academy's history.
"It's our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women."
It's well worth watching in full above.
1. Marlon Brando
To me, Marlon Brando's "speech" at the Oscars ceremony in 1973 is by far the most poignant.
In disgust at what he believed to be the unfair treatment of Native Americans in Hollywood, Brando refused to collect his award in person. Instead, civil rights campaigner and Apache Indian Sacheen Littlefeather got up to receive the award and notify the audience as to why the legendary actor had refused to attend.
Brando later issued a full statement to the press which clarified his position. It can be read in full here.