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Every Actor's Oscar Speech Of The Last 10 Years, Ranked

"I have no words. My voice is in my sword. We know the sword is our work. And I like work." Instantly iconic.

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40. Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) — Best Supporting Actor (2014)

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Speech length: 2 minutes and 24 seconds (not played off)

Cause(s) supported: Ukrainian/Venezuelan dreamers and the fight against AIDS

General thoughts: It was tricky figuring out who to slap at the bottom of this list. As we will see shortly, we've got plenty of bland name-listers in the mix, and while Leto doesn't fall into that trap for long, his speech is all over the place, very self-congratulatory, a bit insensitive, and deathly unenthusiastic. After his WeCrashed costar, Anne Hathaway, presents him with the award, he begins with a lengthy tribute to his mother before pivoting to thank his brother (and name drop his band 30 Seconds to Mars). He then dedicates the award to those who dare to dream "in places like Ukraine and Venezuela" but it comes off as a bit disingenuous as he skips right along to shout out a bunch of rich Hollywood moguls. He finishes by standing "with and for" those who have faced injustice, namely the LGBTQ+ community and AIDS victims. While this is in line with the film's message, it feels hollow, especially since Leto himself is not a member of the community and his casting as a trans woman with HIV was (and is) controversial. Add to that a stoic delivery, and you've got yourself a pretty disorienting, whack-a-mole speech. 

Watch Dallas Buyers Club on Peacock

39. Renée Zellweger (Judy) — Best Actress (2020)

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Speech length: 3 minutes and 57 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: Unity through hero worship

General thoughts: Oh me. Oh my. This is easily the longest speech of the lot (17 seconds longer than Daniel Kaluuya's speech and two minutes longer than the average). And with so much time, Zellweger says next to nothing. She rambles on thanking what appears to be everyone she's ever met, before burrowing into a rabbit hole about heroes and how they "unite us." She lists off a grab bag of Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride, Dolores Huerta, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Selena, Bob Dylan, Martin Scorsese, Fred Rogers and Harriet Tubman, before adding Judy Garland to the mix and saying that we can heal division by liking the same people. The fact that several of these figures were extremely divisive in their time and that her messaging is ultimately in line with most cults, seems lost on her. Really makes you wonder why we didn't give the Oscar to Saoirse Ronan that year instead...

Watch Judy on Hulu

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38. Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) — Best Actor (2017)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 27 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: My key takeaway from watching this clip was that Manchester by the Sea's director, Kenneth Lonergan, is married to (drum roll please) Gerri from Succession (J. Cameron-Smith)! Otherwise, this is all a bit bleak. While Affleck had been chugging along toward his win for an objectively good performance, sexual harassment allegations began to surface, and while (a year before #MeToo) it didn't stop him from winning, by the time his name was announced you could tell the room had soured on him. Bedecked in a messy beard he was growing for The Finest Hours, Affleck is announced by Brie Larson who is not amused and does not clap for him. Then in his mercifully short speech he says what an honor it was to meet Denzel Washington, but when we cut to Washington, he seems annoyed. Affleck ends by saying he wished he had something bigger and more meaningful to say (which he easily could have prepared) before scuttling off stage. The following year Affleck did not present Best Actress (as is customary), leaving Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster (on crutches) to present to Frances McDormand. 

Watch Manchester by the Sea on Prime Video

37. Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) — Best Actor (2018)

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Speech length: 2 minutes and 58 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: As with Casey Affleck, Gary Oldman's win was marred by allegations swirling around him at the time. Unlike Affleck, who seemed to read the room and bow out early, Oldman charged ahead with a fully formed speech and returned the following year to present. He manages a charming anecdote about his 99-year-old mother in the mix of "thank you"s and a bit about loving living in America. Ultimately it felt a bit hollow and to go on for three minutes without making some kind of broader statement about the political landscape is a miss. 

Watch Darkest Hour on Netflix

36. Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) — Best Supporting Actor (2013)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 21 seconds (not played off)

Cause(s) supported: Loving Quentin Tarantino

General thoughts: Perhaps the trouble here lies in the fact that Waltz had just won the same Oscar for a similar role in a similar Quentin Tarantino movie just three years earlier. He doesn't seem particularly excited, and in his relatively short speech, he basically just talks about what a great director Tarantino is and lists off a bunch of people (including Harvey Weinstein, oof). To be fair though, his first speech wasn't much better. The highlight is a quick shot to the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman who attended the show that year with the adorably young Cooper Hoffman, his son and the star of this year's Licorice Pizza

Watch Django Unchained on Netflix

35. Emma Stone (La La Land) — Best Actress (2017)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 53 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: Learning and growing

General thoughts: It PAINS me to rank Miss Stone so low. She's funny, smart, and a brilliant actor. I've seen every one of her movies and written a whole post about how much I adore her. BUT this speech is not good. For whatever reason every ounce of humor in her body evaporated when her hands clutched that gold statue. It is a bland, earnest listing of names before stating that she wants to keep learning and growing. We had higher hopes from the woman who shouted "sorry" at the Golden Globes. 

Watch La La Land on Hulu

34. Mahershala Ali (Green Book) — Best Supporting Actor (2019)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 32 seconds (not played off)

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: Another spectacularly serious speech comes from recent two-time winner Ali, who by all accounts seems to be a fairly reserved individual off stage too. He showed little emotion during his short speech and primarily just thanked those involved with the project. You can also sense some awkwardness hanging in the air as the film was widely deemed problematic and he goes out of his way to thank Octavia Spencer, the lone Black producer on the film, along with costar, Viggo Mortensen, who said the n-word while promoting the film, and Peter Farrelly, who flashed his penis at work. By this point I think Ali was like "thanks for the Oscar, now let's pretend I wasn't in this movie."

Rent Green Book on Prime Video

33. Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) — Best Supporting Actress (2013)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 50 seconds (not played off)

Cause(s) supported: Vaguely that there won't be any more prostitution?

General thoughts: Blerg. Anne. I love her. She's my favorite actor. She can sing. She's funny. She's clever. She has a massive, kooky personality. I don't know why in this moment, she opted to cosplay as a demure six-year-old talking to a stranger at the supermarket. I bumped this one up because her mousy "it came true" is iconic, but listing 17 people in a 110-second-long speech is a big no no. And then she makes a grab for relevance by saying that she hopes the misfortunes of Fantine will someday only be found in stories. Is this a reference to poverty? To prostitution? To shaving your head for cash? If you're going to use your platform here to deliver a message, it can't be so oblique. 

Watch Les Miserables on Netflix

32. Brie Larson (Room) — Best Actress (2016)

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Speech length: 58 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: Moviegoing

General thoughts: We've now entered the realm of perfectly acceptable speeches that are just boring. First up is Larson, who was at the podium for less than a minute, thanked some people, shouted out Jacob Tremblay and A24, and then left. She definitely could have done more here, but alas. 

Watch Room on Hulu

31. Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) — Best Actor (2017)

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Speech length: 3 minutes and 2 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: People struggling with their identity and finding their voice

General thoughts: Malek took two more minutes than Larson, and to his credit he thanked fewer disembodied names, BUT he was still very forgettable. And if we're doing some kind of calculation to create a time-spent-to-important-things-said ratio, this one is not faring well. 

Rent Bohemian Rhapsody on Prime Video

30. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) — Best Actress (2013)

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Speech length: 47 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: THE FALL! That is what I remembered. Lawrence falling up the stairs going up to get her award. My mind is full of awkward/entertaining late-night moments from J. Law during this era, so in my memory this all blurred together to make me believe she had delivered a great speech. In all actuality, it is the third shortest of the bunch, and Lawrence just seems to be in a daze. Perhaps she thought Jessica Chastain would beat her for Zero Dark Thirty, but even still this was very deer-in-the-headlights. 

Watch Silver Linings Playbook on Netflix

29. Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) — Best Supporting Actor (2017)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 55 seconds (not played off)

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: While Moonlight was a much less divisive film than Green Book, Ali's original Oscar speech wasn't all that much better. He tears up slightly while mentioning his teachers and shouts out his wife for giving birth four days earlier, but it's largely a somber list of "thank you"s. 

Watch Moonlight on Hulu

28. Laura Dern (Marriage Story) — Best Supporting Actress (2020)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 36 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: Saving the planet (briefly) 

General thoughts: Laura Dern is a consummate professional. She is polished but still shows her excitement. She thanks everyone she needs to without being too boring. She has good lines like "some say never meet your heroes, but if you're really blessed, you get them as your parents." But she just lacks the pizzazz. She did everything asked of her on paper, but as at least one queen on each season of RuPaul's Drag Race knows, sometimes being perfect just isn't entertaining. 

Watch Marriage Story on Netflix

27. Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) — Best Supporting Actress (2016)

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Speech length: 54 seconds (played off) 

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: Okay I don't know who was in charge of the 2016 Oscars, but the person was really blitzing through these speeches. Poor Alicia Vikander got played off in under a minute! Mark Rylance got shipped off a minute and five seconds, and of course Brie Larson sprinted through her speech. I don't know if Vikander would have been better if she'd had more room to breathe, but mostly she was just very excited, thanked some people, and then was shown the door. 

Watch The Danish Girl on Netflix

26. Jean Dujardin (The Artist) — Best Actor (2012)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 31 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: Occasionally the Academy decides to acknowledge a well-regarded international actor with a win, and Dujardin scratched that itch with his silent film star performance in that year's Best Picture winner. He had his speech written out (often the kiss of death), but his delivery was light and fun. He spoke briefly of Oscar history, he seemed thrilled to have won, and he shouted in French at the end. A perfectly lovely win.

Watch The Artist on Netflix

25. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) — Best Supporting Actor (2015)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 20 seconds (not played off)

Cause(s) supported: Calling your parents on the phone

General thoughts: It is veeeeeeeeeery interesting the causes people decide to champion in their Oscar speeches. You've got millions of people watching and only a few minutes, and with that precious time Simmons told the world "go call your parents." His speech is short and sweet with a specific aim, so I can't knock that BUT idk that's necessarily the best use of your time, sir. 

Watch Whiplash on Hulu

24. Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) — Best Supporting Actress (2019)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 53 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: From this point forward, we have nothing but solid, well-executed speeches. They are all thoughtful, have a bit of pizzazz, and are emotional. They are (especially compared to the non-acting speeches which can be reeeeeeeeal hit or miss) great acceptance speeches. They just lack the iconic wow factor of the top-tier group. First up we've got Regina King who is crying, shouts out James Baldwin, is incredibly gracious, and just an overall gem. Nice work. 

Watch If Beale Street Could Talk on Hulu

23. Octavia Spencer (The Help) — Best Supporting Actress (2012)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 8 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: Spencer suffers here because she is getting a teleprompter cue to "wrap up" almost immediately, but the fact that she is obviously overcome with emotions and still manages to get out the quip "thank you to the Academy for putting me with the hottest guy in the room" is commendable. 

Watch The Help on HBO Max

22. Allison Janney (I, Tonya) — Best Supporting Actress (2018)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 15 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: Janney's opening line of "I did it all by myself" really is worth a lot here. Without that genius intro, her speech would be a tier down, but adding it to solid, well-constructed remarks elevates it. Listing 10 names in 75 seconds, however, is not what we should be aiming for. 

Watch I, Tonya on Hulu

21. Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) — Best Supporting Actor (2018)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 29 seconds (played off)

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: Like Dujardin, Rockwell quickly yanks out the piece of paper folded 15 times, but also like Dujardin, the written notes don't seem to hamper him. He delivers his remarks well, name drops the other nominees, tells a charming story about his dad and thanks "everyone who's ever looked at a billboard." He's clever and witty and elevates an average speech with plenty of humor. 

Rent Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri on Prime Video

20. Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) — Best Supporting Actor (2021)

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Speech length: 3 minutes and 40 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: The causes championed by Fred Hampton through unity

General thoughts: At the 2021 COVID-19 Oscars, they did away with playoff music (I'm sure Alicia had thoughts on that). This led to some odd rambling speeches without the looming threat of a musical overture and large hook ready to yank you off stage. Kaluuya took the leeway to give a cryptic message second only to Zellweger's in length. He said "man" a dozen times. He talked about getting drunk at the (COVID-friendly) afterparties. He talked about his parents having sex. No one is winning an oratory competition with this mess, but it was certainly entertaining and generated some of the biggest laughs of the evening. 

Watch Judas and the Black Messiah on HBO Max

19. Christopher Plummer (Beginners) — Best Supporting Actor (2012)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 54 seconds (not played off)

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: If you're looking up Hollywood class in the dictionary, Plummer (and the two women following him on this list) would have their portraits on the entry. Plummer, who won in his 80s, is obviously thrilled to be receiving an award he's worked his entire life for. He opens with "You're only two years older than me darling, where have you been all my life?" and continues to be nothing but a class act as he thanks his fellow nominees, tells a lovely anecdote, and even quotes French. At just under two minutes, he's hitting the average speech time squarely and he uses every second well. 

Watch Beginners on Prime Video

18. Julianne Moore (Still Alice) — Best Actress (2015)

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Speech length: 2 minutes and 22 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: Alzheimer's awareness and ALS awareness

General thoughts: What Moore lacks in polish, she makes up in excitement, laughing her way through the speech giddily. Like Plummer, she opens with a great (obviously pre-planned) bit. She then thanks the appropriate parties and ends with a plea for both Alzheimer's and ALS awareness. So far, most of the winners on this list have either bypassed addressing larger issues in their speeches or have botched the job. Moore executes the transition to a larger plea nicely. 

Watch Still Alice on Hulu

17. Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) — Best Actress (2014)

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Speech length: 3 minutes and 16 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: Women-centered film and Australian actors

General thoughts: Moore was really working off the Blanchett model as their speeches are similar in a lot of ways in back-to-back years. Blanchett tells a few jokes at the beginning (including telling Julia Roberts to "suck it") before pivoting to champion films about women claiming they are "not niche experiences." Slightly ironic given that she's winning for a Woody Allen film (and thanks him in the speech), but she clearly means well and establishes a precedent that other actors would pick up later as they champion women in film. 

Watch Blue Jasmine on HBO Max

16. Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) — Best Supporting Actor (2016)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 5 seconds (played off) 

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: Poor Mark. A revered stage actor winning after a long career and he gets played off after 65 seconds. Sucks to be a part of the turbo drive Oscars apparently sponsored by Sonic the Hedgehog. He is very sweet and charming and gives a wonderful tribute to Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks before getting played off. 

Rent Bridge of Spies on Prime Video

15. Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) — Best Actor (2014)

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Speech length: 3 minutes and 7 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: With the exception of J.K. Simmons's "phone your mom" speech, most of these have been your standard thank the Academy, thank the cast and crew, pay tribute to your fellow nominees speeches with a few jokes and anecdotes thrown in. McConaughey is working off the alternative (I think better model) of "say your thanks later, let's say something important at the podium." His clearly prepared remarks focus around the trio of finding 1) something to look up to (God), 2) something to look forward to (family), and 3) someone to chase. The thing falls apart a bit here as the person he's chasing (his hero) is himself in 10 years(?) but I like the intention of it all. His working in of "alright, alright, alright" and his description of his dad as eating a pot of gumbo and lemon meringue pie in his underwear while dancing and drinking Miller Lite are also entertaining. If you're gonna bulldoze through the three-minute mark, MAKE IT WORTH IT. 

Watch Dallas Buyers Club on Peacock

14. Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) — Best Supporting Actress (2014)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 50 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: Uplifting marginalized artists and dreamers 

General thoughts: Nyong'o's speech includes thanking a lot of people, but her stunned joy and tearful appreciation makes up for a lot. She also manages to deliver some thoughtful comments about the subject of her film and sticks the landing with the oft-quoted line "no matter where you're from your dreams are valid." Bonus points awarded for Liza Minnelli flagging down Lupita on her way to the stage. (It does not appear that the two knew each other beforehand, but I guess Liza just loved 12 Years a Slave?)

Watch 12 Years a Slave on HBO Max

13. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) — Best Actor (2016)

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Speech length: 2 minutes and 23 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: Global warming prevention 

General thoughts: I love Leo. He's a great actor, and anyone who has even a passing knowledge of him knows he's working tirelessly to offset climate change and save the planet. When he finally won his Oscar (and you could see how thrilled he was), he says his "thank you"s and then pivots to an impassioned plea for watchers to help save Earth. It doesn't feel trite or like a throwaway line. You know he's invested his own time and money into the cause and so it feels natural and timely (and even applicable to his film) to be discussing it. Also as a side note: Biden was in the audience for these Oscars and we see him briefly during Leo's speech. 

Rent The Revenant on Prime Video

12. Anthony Hopkins (The Father) — Best Actor (2021)

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Speech length: 39 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: This is a bit of an outlier, as it's the only non-live speech in the bunch. Due to COVID and Anthony Hopkins being over 80, he did not attend the Oscars. No one thought too much of this ahead of time, either, since the late Chadwick Boseman was the widely predicted front runner for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Expecting a Boseman win, the Academy shuffled the awards order to put Best Actor last (rather than the traditional Best Picture). Hopkins winning went over like a lead balloon as he was not there to accept the Oscar. The next day Hopkins released this magnanimous, charming message thanking the Academy and paying tribute to Boseman. A class act through and through. 

Watch The Father on Hulu

11. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) — Best Actor (2015)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 54 seconds (not played off)

Cause(s) supported: ALS research 

General thoughts: I don't think there is a person on this list who was more excited to win their Oscar than Redmayne. His exuberance is palpable. He is shaking and shouting on his way to the stage. He has to stop in the middle of his speech because he's so elated. Watching this much joy is infectious and you can't help be thrilled when he so obviously is. His speech as a whole is fairly standard but the EMOTION can cover a multitude of sins. 

Watch The Theory of Everything on Hulu

10. Youn Yuh-jung (Minari) — Best Supporting Actress (2021)

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Speech length: 3 minutes and 19 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: Daniel Kaluuya's counterpart in the COVID-19 "talk as long as you want" Oscars was the veteran actress from South Korea. Like Kaluuya, her speech is a jumble of disconnected thoughts, but her charm and comedy make the whole thing highly entertaining. She begins by flirting with/roasting Brad Pitt, who presented the award, for mispronouncing her name and never showing up to the Minari set despite being a credited producer. She then asks how she won over Glenn Close and says "I'm luckier than you" to her fellow nominees. She's sweet, happy, and a little bit feisty. Yes, the speech is long, but she uses the time well. 

Watch Minari on Hulu

9. Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) — Best Actor (2013)

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Speech length: 2 minutes and 30 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: None

General thoughts: When you think of three-time Oscar winner, Daniel Day-Lewis, you don't usually think "funny" but his 2013 speech is chock full of dry British wit. Receiving the award from Meryl Streep, he opens with a quip about how he was supposed to play Margaret Thatcher and she Abraham Lincoln before they swapped parts. He then thanks his wife for putting up with his method-acting madness, before thanking dearly departed Honest Abe. He cries and is more emotional about his third win than many winners are on their first go. Well done. 

Watch Lincoln on Prime Video

8. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) — Best Supporting Actress (2015)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 18 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: Ecological sanitation, women's wage equality

General thoughts: Arquette's Oscar speech is a bit of an outlier. Out of everyone on this list, she seems the most uncomfortable at the podium. She's obviously nervous, her hands are shaking, and she's reading her speech off a piece of paper at a mile a minute. What she lacks in poise, however, she makes up for in preparedness. She quickly gets through thanking her team and then moves onto her main objective: the wage gap between men and women. She uses her platform to hammer home an important message to a room full of Hollywood execs, and left a lasting impression in a never-ending sea of speeches. This is also the speech that received the iconic Meryl finger point so the meme will live on forever. 

Watch Boyhood on Prime Video

7. Frances McDormand (Nomadland) — Best Actress (2021)

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Speech length: 31 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: The Oscars should add a karaoke bar

General thoughts: The most delightfully unhinged speech on the list. McDormand is a wonderfully odd person, and opted to give the shortest speech of the list. She first says that the Academy should install a karaoke bar at the awards ceremony because of all the singers present. She then delivers this baffling speech: "I have no words. My voice is in my sword. We know the sword is our work. And I like work. Thank you for knowing that, and thanks for this." What does it mean? Not a clue. But is giving this 31-second-long word salad iconic? Absolutely. We MUST STAN. 

Watch Nomadland on Hulu

6. Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) — Best Actress (2012)

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Speech length: 2 minutes and 27 seconds (not played off)

Cause(s) supported: Her makeup artist of 30+ years

General thoughts: If anyone should know how to deliver a good Oscar speech it's Meryl Streep. After all she's been nominated 21 times, which means she's sat in the audience for over 500+ speeches (and she's there plenty of years she's not nominated as well). She opens with a self-deprecating joke about how America is tired of her getting nominated. She then gives a touching tribute to her longtime makeup artist who won an Oscar that same night after over 30 years of work. She gets teary. She talks about love and friendship and the joy of making movies together. She doesn't quite meet the magic of calling Tilda Swinton "Gilda" in her Golden Globes speech from that year, which is perhaps my favorite awards speech of all time, BUT she is everything you want from Meryl Streep. 

Watch The Iron Lady on HBO Max

5. Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) — Best Supporting Actor (2020)

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Speech length: 1 minute and 53 seconds (not played off)

Cause(s) supported: Trump's impeachment and more appreciation of stunt coordinators

General thoughts: Brad Pitt spent his whole awards season conducting a charm offensive as the world's most lovable mensch. You had his Golden Globes speech where he said he'd make room for Leo on the Titanic door. You had his SAG speech where he made fun of Quentin Tarantino's foot fetish. And then of course the infamous backstage reunion at the SAGs with Jennifer Aniston after her win. His Oscar win was the coup de grâce of the season. He hugs Leo, does a slow run to Regina King who hands him the statue. He references the Trump impeachment trial, and says that there should be a stunt coordinator Oscar. He tells Leo "I'll ride your coat tails any day man. The view's fantastic." And then he ends with an emotional story about him watching movies at the drive-in and moving to Hollywood with a dream. You couldn't have asked for a more charming speech that hits every note we're looking for. 

Rent Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on Prime Video

4. Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) — Best Actor (2020)

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Speech length: 3 minutes and 38 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: Fight against injustice, environmentalism, veganism, second chances

General thoughts: It's interesting that Brad Pitt and Joaquin Phoenix won their Oscars in the same year, because their speech objectives could not have been more different. While Pitt brought an easy charm, Phoenix opted for a prickly (if heartfelt) plea for watchers to make the world a better place. He came with a mission and set to it right away. Barely thanking anyone, he spends his incredibly long speech (shorter only than Zellweger and Kaluuya) focused on issues he cares about. He paints a vivid picture of the horrors of consuming meat and dairy. He asks that everyone fight for the environment. And then he pleads with viewers to give one another second chances and allow themselves to be the best versions they can. He ends tearfully with a mention of his brother River who passed away. Phoenix may not be someone you want to grab a beer with, but he understood that he had a platform and he threw everything he could into using it. 

Watch Joker on HBO Max

3. Olivia Colman (The Favourite) — Best Actress (2019)

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Speech length: 2 minutes and 32 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: Working as a cleaner

General thoughts: The 2018 Best Actress race was a doozy. Early on it seemed as if Lady Gaga had the win all sewn up for A Star Is Born but then Glenn Close upset her in the Golden Globes' drama category for The Wife. It seemed inevitable then that Close (on her seventh Oscar nomination) would win. She won the SAG award and tied with Gaga at the Critics Choice Awards. Colman won the BAFTA and the Golden Globe comedy segment, but no one seemed to take her as a serious contender especially after the discussion of if she should be lead or supporting, and the fact that she was relatively unknown in the US despite plenty of great work in the UK TV scene. When she is announced as the winner over both Gaga and Close, then, she proceeds to give one the most flabbergasted, deliriously excited speeches in Oscar history. She says "This is genuiniely quite stressful." She chuckles. She says "This is hilarious." She profusely apologizes to Glenn Close. She talks about giving a "massive snog" to everyone. And she ends in revelry saying "LADY GAGA!" If there is a definition of chaotic good in this world, it is this speech. You can't help but smile watching. 

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2. Viola Davis (Fences) — Best Supporting Actress (2017)

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ABC / Via youtube.com

Speech length: 3 minutes and 6 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: Artists who tell the stories of real people

General thoughts: While I'm sure that most of the people on this list prepared their speeches to some degree or another (some bringing notes with them while others perhaps only gave cursory thoughts), no one else put in the time to make their speeches works of literary genius. Davis, crying, reaches the podium and proceeds to deliver an oratory masterclass. Her sentences are poetic. Her delivery is worthy of Abraham Lincoln. No one else is saying "Here's to August Wilson who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people." Hers is a more standard Oscar speech than Colman's or Phoenix's, but the language is elevated and so are the themes. You could print this out and sell it in Barnes and Noble, and I can hear her delivering "we are the only profession who celebrates what it means to live a life" in her signature gusto. Let's give her a second Oscar because I want another speech. 

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1. Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) — Best Actress (2018)

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ABC / Via youtube.com

Speech length: 2 minutes and 16 seconds (not played off) 

Cause(s) supported: Women! and "Inclusion Rider" 

General thoughts: Frances McDormand may be odd but she knows how to make a MOMENT. Everyone else is delivering a speech. She is creating an experience. She begins with "I've got some things to say," and after a reference to Olympian Chloe Kim and referring to her team as "a bunch of hooligans and anarchists," she gets to saying it. She asks every female nominee to stand, demanding that Meryl Streep lead the charge, which she does. You can feel the electricity in the room as McDormand demands that the boy's club of Hollywood recognize their talent and give them more work at fair wages. It's more Norma Rae than "I'd like to thank the Academy" and there is POWER behind her words and delivery. And then, as if that wasn't enough, she ends with "two words: inclusion rider," which sent viewers frantically google-searching to learn that big stars and directors can create more diversity on set by putting a clause in their contract saying they'll only perform if a certain percentage of the cast and crew are women/queer/people of color/etc. If you're looking to make a change with your two minutes of air time, Fran is your example. My favorite hooligan anarchist around. 

Rent Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri on Prime Video

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