The Best & Worst Oscar Speeches

Anne Hathaway at the Oscars

Acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards are limited to forty-five seconds. This is non-negotiable. Carry on for longer than forty-five seconds and the music will kick in. Any longer and they’ll turn your microphone right off. No messing. Forty-five seconds is all you have to make your mark. So how did this year’s winners fare?

Aside from J.K Simmons plea for everyone to call their mother, this year’s Oscar speeches were more overtly political than usual, fitting the political output of this year’s nominations. The tradition of giving a shout out to the group connected to the subject of your film is a long one. My particular favourite came two years ago when Anne Hathaway shared her award with all of the real life bald, toothless melancholic whores of the French Revolutionary period, for which I’m sure they were very grateful. This year, I was desperately hoping that the makers of Birdman would have the class to dedicate their award to all of the successful film actors struggling to gain artistic credibility after achieving fame playing a ridiculous superhero. Ben Affleck would have wept until his head dehydrated and shrivelled up like a pickled voodoo sacrifice.

But these year’s speeches were lacking in absurdity. Eddie Redmayne was genuinely adorable collecting his well-deserved award for best actor for ‘Theory of Everything’ and dedicated his award to the sufferers of ALS and the Hawking family, whom he has become close to since landing the role of Stephen Hawking. John Legend’s impassioned speech about the incarceration rates of African-American males was sobering and impressive. Patricia Arquette also won plaudits for using her speech to highlight the issue of equal pay in the United State. That’s a worthy cause and all, but it had nothing to do with the damn film. I am a child of divorce who has aged with the changing of the seasons and the passing of the tides and emerged as a generally uninteresting human being and I was hoping for my own shout out at last. But whatever, Meryl Streep enjoyed it, and she is right on all things so I’ll choke down my grief.

Obviously, making political statements in a public place is a risky business and it was inevitable that someone would wind up on the end of some. Old Graham Moore got an earful after his ‘stay weird, stay different’ speech for reasons that escape me. Apparently, some people thought that he was gay, which made the speech brilliant. But then it transpired that he wasn’t gay at all, and all of a sudden the very same people decided he was the biggest turd to ever walk the planet, and he should be killed to death until he died of being killed. Or something. I am unfamiliar with the laws governing the frontier justice of Twitter but that’s the gist, I think.

That unnecessary blip aside, this year’s speech givers were well behaved, sensitive, and won approval and appreciation far and wide. It was a fantastic display of political involvement and sensitivity towards issues of equality and none of them can truly be faulted for anything they said. What a load of old shit.

What the Oscars remind us is that the stars of the silver screen are just better than we are. They’re beautiful, usually talented and simply by virtue of being in attendance they’re at the apex of a game that few people can only dream of even playing. I don’t want them to be more intelligent, sensitive and engaged than me as well. And if they have to be those things, I don’t want them showing off about it. With the endless talk of equality at this year’s Oscar’s the ever widening gulf between the Hollywood elite and us orange fingered, Wotsit eating wankers watching them be wonderful in our sweaty pyjamas has never been more gaping.

I don’t want to see a clearly lovely young man making sensitive and sincere remarks about ALS sufferers. I don’t want to look at passionate men making stark and salient points about racial equality in the United States. I want to see hysterical women boarding the stage and bawling until their head explodes into a vibrant starburst of mucus and blood. I want to see a stumbling ditz strongly imply that they have sex with their blood relations. I want to see more of John ‘Octopus-Paws’ Travolta slipping around the young ladies like a dirty uncle at a wedding. I want to depravity, drunkenness, acts of manic egotism, and frenzied, disproportionate emotions. I want everyone to have a chance to look at the beautiful people living lives ordinary people covet and envy and be able to reasonably call them deranged morons. Otherwise it’s just not fair.

Bad show, the Oscars. Serve more alcohol next year.