Spending a fortune on sexy clothes and hair styling yet not spending time to craft the acceptance speech that people refer to in admiration. Why don’t more Oscar nominees nail it? They certainly know writers who can help them and are adept at acting. Methinks the two most becoming ways to accept an award or honor are to authentically, vividly and briefly honor others - and to refer to something bigger than yourself. (Of course you want to show people how much you are delighted by the honor.)
These acceptance speeches display those qualities. I loved seeing them again and hope you do too.
• Jack Nicholson for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
For being interesting to watch even as he walks up the steps to the stage. For starting with a humorous line then delivering two more, interspersed with “first name only” thank yous that made them seem especially personal - all while facing a wildly fond audience.
• Forrest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland
For tying his motivation to act to a greater value: “When I started acting it was because of my desire to connect with others…that through our combined belief we can create a new reality.”
• Helen Mirren for The Queen
For her ladylike graciousness, brevity and referring to Queen Elizabeth with respect and humor, “Now you know for 50 years….”
• Ben Afflect and Matt Damon for Good Will Hunting
For mixing preparation and spontaneity, in sync with each other.
• Halle Berry for Dorothy Dandridge
For letting her emotion flow, then (somewhat) recovering to make her praise specific. “This moment is so much bigger than me. It for Dorothy Dandridge… and for all the nameless women of color… for tonight the door has been opened….”
• Denzel Washington for Training Day
For mixing humor with honoring a hero: “For forty years I’ve been chasing Sidney, and what do they do?...”