And the award for the most cringe-worthy Oscar speech of all time goes to . . .
The 90th Academy Awards is less than a week away, which gives us plenty of time to speculate over who we’ll be talking about once the winners are announced. And hopefully that involves a fair few cringe-worthy Oscar acceptance speeches, because honestly – sometimes they can be the best part of the ceremony. With that in mind, here are the ten best cringe-inducing, eye-roll inspiring Oscar speeches of all time.
Sally Field (1985)
Best Actress: Places in the Heart
First and foremost, Field is an absolute national treasure. But her 1985 speech for her second Oscar win? Yikes! Beaming with pride and addressing the fact she’s an “unorthodox” actor who finally feels welcome in Hollywood, Field looks like Carrie at the prom, about to get a whole bucket of pig’s blood thrown over her. Thankfully, her peers simply applauded her as she said, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me,” which is something of a relief for everyone involved.
Jack Palance (1993)
Best Supporting Actor: City Slickers
Let’s all cut Palance a break for a second: the dude was 73-years-old when he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1993. This might explain why he spends most of his speech talking about how great he’s doing for a man of his age like a fella who’s just won a game of pool against a teenager. But then he starts doing one-armed pushups and it’s like nothing else the Oscars – which attracts a solid crowd of Hollywood showboaters on a yearly basis – has ever seen.
James Cameron (1998)
Best Director: Titanic
Watching Cameron fistpump the air like a fratboy who just nailed a win at beer pong is bad enough. But then he had to go and lay a thick layer of eye-roll on what was already a heaving crust of cringe by shouting, “I’m the king of the world!” Sit down, sir.
Gwyneth Paltrow (1999)
Best Actress: Shakespeare in Love
It’s always nice to see a star being humble enough to take the time to thank their entire family for their love & support in an Oscar acceptance speech. But Paltrow took that idea to new extremes by heaping such hyperbolic proportions of love to her family that her breathless declarations of gratitude come off sounding anything but sincere – particularly when she breaks down while describing her family’s “love of a tremendous magnitude”. R.I.P sincerity.
Angelina Jolie (2000)
Best Supporting Actress: Girl, Interrupted
Bookmarking her speech with gushing tributes to her brother, Jolie officially cemented herself as one of Hollywood’s biggest oddballs. “I’m so in love with my brother right now” will hopefully remain one of the weirdest & worst Oscar speech openers of all time. If there’s anything that could possibly top it, the world definitely doesn’t need to hear it.
Vanessa Redgrave (1978)
Best Supporting Actress: Julia
Redgrave starts off well by making a crowd-pleasing statement about how Julia was a great reminder of the fortitude of the “fight against fascism and Nazi Germany”. However, she loses the crowd entirely just a few seconds later when her speech derails into a political statement against “Zionist hoodlums”, earning her a set of boos & jeers that continue until she leaves the stage.
Matthew McConaughey (2014)
Best Actor: Dallas Buyers Club
If narcissistic tangents are your idea of heaven then you should probably listen to McConaughey’s back-slapping Oscar speech every morning when you wake up. Particularly the part where he declares himself his own pinnacle of greatness – “My hero . . . that’s who I chase. It’s me in ten years.” Keep doing you, fella.
Sean Penn (2004)
Best Actor: Mystic River
Stating how his children “find it presumptuous and embarrassing to write a speech”, Penn instead tries (and fails) to wing his thank you reel. Littered with embarrassing, extended pauses that feel as though they last the expanse of the entire ceremony, Penn’s speech will be renowned for its painful silences as he searches his soul for anything to say.
George Clooney (2006)
Best Supporting Actor: Syriana
He was likely trying to come across as his usual charmingly aloof self, but Clooney’s speech instead winds up feeling like the most smug, self-congratulatory moment in Oscar history . . . which is saying a lot. It’s no surprise the actor and his speech were suitably lampooned shortly after by South Park in the episode “Smug Alert”.
Melissa Leo (2011)
Best Supporting Actress: The Fighter
In fairness, Leo’s rambling acceptance speech feels like an accurate reflection of how most of us would sabotage our own moment in the Oscar spotlight if we had a chance – including dropping an F-bomb. Which is actually what makes it all the more cringe-worthy. Placing a strange cherry on top of an already towering cake of disaster, Leo walks off with Best Supporting Actress presenter Kirk Douglas’s cane and pretends to be an old lady at the end of it all.