Thanking the Academy might express sincerity and appreciation for receiving a distinguished honor like an Oscar, but the speeches that viewers will be buzzing about after this year’s Academy Awards® will likely be remembered for the emotion, thoughtfulness, and perhaps humor the award winners use to engage the audience while on stage.
In advance of next Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, Toastmasters International, the global organization devoted to communication and leadership skills development, selects the five acceptance speech lines below (in chronological order) as the funniest in recent Oscar history:
1. Robin Williams, Best Supporting Actor 1998
When Robin Williams won Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Good Will Hunting” in 1998, he displayed emotion and sincerity, as well as his trademark humor. The late comedian closed his speech by thanking his father, who, when Williams said he wanted to be an actor, told him, “Wonderful, just have a back-up profession like welding.”
2. Roberto Benigni for La Vita è bella, Best Foreign Language Film 1999
Roberto Benigni will forever be remembered for climbing over and standing on audience seats as he made his way to the stage when he won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for “Life is Beautiful” in 1999. His winning speech was nearly just as high-spirited and included this memorable quip, “I would like to thank my parents in Vergaio, a little village in Italy. They gave me the biggest gift: poverty.”
3. Julia Roberts, Best Actress 2001
Julia Roberts wasn’t going to let the walk-off music rush her acceptance speech as she won Best Actress for “Erin Brockovich” in 2001: “I have a television, so I’m going to spend some time here to tell you some things. [To orchestra conductor:] And sir, you’re doing a great job, but you’re so quick with that stick. So why don’t you sit, ’cause I may never be here again.”
4. Sandra Bullock, Best Actress 2010
After winning the Best Actress award in 2010 for her role in “The Blind Side,” Sandra Bullock opened her acceptance speech with clever and memorable remark, “Did I really earn this, or did I just wear you all down?”
5. Meryl Streep, Best Actress 2012
As she accepted her third Academy Award – second for Best Actress – for her work in “The Iron Lady” in 2012, Meryl Streep, who holds the record for most Academy Award nominations of any actor, joked, “When they called my name, I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, ‘Oh no. Come on … Her, again?’ You know. But, whatever.”
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