The 9 Craziest Things That Have Happened At The Oscars
By Dan Auty on
The Academy Awards are the biggest night of the year in Hollywood. Whether you see it as a celebration of cinematic achievement, a cynical backslapping exercise, a giant marketing campaign, or (most likely) a combination of all of these, it's a must-watch event for every movie fan. This year's awards were a safe, respectful affair that attempted to represent the shift in attitudes towards gender and race that is occurring in Hollywood right now. There was a sense of the industry trying to reset itself and generate a sense of community; it was more about being there to support one another than wallowing in the glory of victory.
So for those who look to the Academy Awards for controversial moments that we'll be talking about for years to come, it was a disappointing night. But it remains the case that the long history of the Oscars have been marked with some crazy and unforgettable incidents. From falls and flubs to excruciating speeches and bizarre clothing choices, here are some of the wildest moments in Academy Awards history.
9. Cher heart attack
While the Oscars are known for allowing guests to showcase some pretty outlandish dresses and hairstyles, most nominees choose to dress more demurely for that potential big moment on the stage. Not Cher however. In 1988, the singer and actress won Best Actress for the drama Moonstruck, and collected the award wearing one of most daring and memorable ensembles in Oscar history. Designed by her long-time style collaborator Bob Mackie, the dress is actually only one in a long line of wild ensembles that Cher has worn to the ceremony, but her win elevated it to legendary status.
8. The Oscars' "Kanye moment"
One of the event's most excruciating moments came in 2010, when Roger Ross Williams became the first black filmmaker to win Best Documentary Short, for his film Music By Prudence. Williams' big moment was interrupted by the film's producer Elinor Burkett, who had, a year earlier, been removed from the film's production, resulting in a lawsuit and out-of-court settlement. Still feeling aggrieved, Burkett rushed onto the stage and proceeded to dominate their brief time together. After the event, Burkett told Salon, "We weren't able to discuss ahead of the time who would be the one person allowed to speak if we won. And then, as I'm sure you saw, when we won, he raced up there to accept the award. And his mother took her cane and blocked me. So I couldn't get up there!" The incident has since become known as the Oscars' "Kanye Moment," after Kanye West's similarly disruptive behavior at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
7. Cuba goes crazy
Oscar winners really don't have long to get their acceptance speeches out. So when Cuba Gooding Jr. was the surprise winner of 1997's Best Supporting Actor award for Jerry Maguire, he made sure he used every second available. He started by thanking co-star Tom Cruise, before moving onto his partner and children, his parents, and God. As the exit music began, Gooding Jr. remained on stage, his voice rising to a yell to be heard above the orchestra. The star continued to scream wild thank yous to seemingly everyone who had worked on the movie, setting a new standard for unhinged onstage award enthusiasm. "I walked on that stage and emotionally lost my mind," the actor later said. "I forgot who I was and where I was for a minute."
6. Opel's shortcomings
In 1974, a year after Marlon Brando used the Oscars to highlight the plight of Native Americans, another rights activist performed his own memorable onstage protest. This time it was photographer and gay rights campaigner Robert Opel, who stripped off and streaked across the stage while host David Niven was attempting to introduce Elizabeth Taylor to present the next award. "Isn't it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?" quipped Niven.
5. J-Law Fall
Jennifer Lawrence is hardly the first star to fall in front of a huge audience. But Lawrence's dress-related stumble as she climbed the steps to collect the award for Best Actress in 2013 became a big moment, in part because of the way she herself embraced the moment. Far from ignoring it, Lawrence suggested that the standing ovation she received was in fact for her fall, not her acting. The story was kept alive the following week by the ever-eccentric Jared Leto, who claimed that the star fell on purpose. "You know, I'm starting to wonder if this is a bit of an act," he told Access Hollywood.
4. Bad m****r f****r!
Every Oscar nominee knows that the camera will be fixed on their faces as they hear the nominations read out, and most maintain a respectful fixed smile when they hear that someone else has won. Not Samuel L Jackson, who was nominated in 1995 for Pulp Fiction but lost out to Ed Wood's Martin Landau. While the fellow nominees Gary Sinise and Chazz Palminteri both politely smiled and clapped, Jackson didn't even attempt to hide his distain at the result. His face crumpled into bitter disappointment and he exclaimed, "S***!" as Landau rose to claim his prize.
3. "Adele Dazeem"
While award gaffes and shocks in previous eras took days or even weeks to become part of Oscar legend, the age of social media means that these defining moments are immediately seen and documented across the globe. This was the case in 2014, when John Travolta seemed to forget the name of Broadway star and Frozen voice artist Idina Menzel, instead bizarrely introducing her "Adele Dazeem." Cue dozens of instant and hilarious memes, GIFS, and vines.
2. Brando says no
Many thought that Marlon Brando's best days were behind him when he took on the role of Don Corleone in The Godfather, but his masterful performance secured him the Best Actor award in 1973. But rather than bask in the glory, the legendarily idiosyncratic actor declined to attend, instead asking Native American civil rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather to take to the podium on his behalf. In what has become one the most famous on-stage moments in Oscar history, Littlefeather proceeded to tell the audience that Marlon was rejecting the award because of "the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry."
1. And the Oscar goes to La La… no, wait!
The most recent Oscar controversy was also one of the biggest. The acclaimed musical drama La La Land was the favorite to take home Best Picture in 2017 and had already scored prizes for director Damien Chezelle and star Emma Stone earlier that night. So when Faye Dunaway announced that it had also won the night's biggest award, no one was surprised. Except it hadn't. Moonlight was the winner, and co-host Warren Beatty had been handed a repeat of Stone's winning card, from which Dunaway simply read the movie's title. Cue mass confusion, major embarrassment, and a hilariously gobsmacked audience as the La La Land producers started their acceptance speech, only for it it be cut short as they were informed that Moonlight was in fact the winner. Madness.