Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Some celebrities just do not know how to accept a trophy with grace and dignity. Most try to be funny, while others become righteous or even try to have a highbrow speech. All of them end up with cringe worthy appearances while accepting the highest honor they could receive.
What makes it worse is that sometimes, those few seconds of awkwardness would overshadow their actual superb performance. Here now are the most embarrassing acceptance speeches in award shows.
10. Sally Field’s Neediness
During the 57th Academy Awards in 1985, Sally Field won an Oscar for best actress for her performance in the movie called Places in the Heart. It was her second victory, coming in five years after her award winning turn in Norma Rae. Field probably didn’t feel as accepted in Hollywood in 1979 as she had in 1984. She embarrassingly proclaimed, “…this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”
9. Sir Laurence Olivier’s Seemingly Nonsensical Speech
Try to make sense of this, “In the great wealth, the great firmament of your nation’s generosity, this particular choice may perhaps be found by future generations as a trifle eccentric, but the mere fact of it–the prodigal, pure, human kindness of it–must be seen as a beautiful star in that firmament which shines upon me at this moment, dazzling me a little, but filling me with warmth and the extraordinary elation, the euphoria that happens to so many of us at the first breath of the majestic glow of a new tomorrow.” That was Sir Laurence Olivier’s speech after getting a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1979.
8. Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Excitement
In 1997, Cuba Gooding Jr. won an Oscar for his supporting performance to Tom Cruise in the movie Jerry Maguire. In an over the top acceptance, he thanked and proclaimed love to every person he knew. The microphone was shut off and the orchestra started playing music but he remained while jumping up and down.
7. Marlon Brando’s Statement
Marlon Brando won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1973 for his performance in The Godfather. Instead of accepting the award for what turned out to be one of the greatest movies of all time, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a native American, who declined the award because “…the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil.”
6. Bert Schneider’s Message from the Enemy
Vietnam was a war that shouldn’t have been fought. However, regardless of the reason, one should stand by the country’s soldiers who were sacrificing their lives in a distant country. Bert Schneider forgot this simple courtesy to the troops when in 1975, he won an Oscar for Best Documentary for Hearts and Minds and promptly read a message from the Vietcong delegation to the Paris peace talks. John Wayne and Bob Hope criticized Schneider, while Frank Sinatra challenged him to a fight backstage.
5. Allison Janney Embarrassing a Nominee
In 2004, Allison Janney won an Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series for her performance in West Wing. For some reason, she asked her fellow nominee Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit to come up on stage as well because she was wearing the same color dress. Hargitay was left with no choice but to go up where she ended up doing nothing except to watch Janney make her speech from a few meters away.
4. Vanessa Redgrave’s Sanctimonious Turn
In 1978, Vanessa Redgrave won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the movie called Julia, a movie that was set in Nazi Germany. It probably made her feel like she had a free pass to say anything about Jews. She addressed Palestinians and said, “…you have refused to be intimidated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world and their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression.” The speech was roundly criticized and met by boos and jeers.
3. James Cameron Quoting His Own Movie
James Cameron won an Oscar for Best Director in 1998 as the movie Titanic swept through the Academy Awards. The movie won 11 awards out of the 14 nominations it garnered that year. It also went on to become the highest grossing movie at the time. It was critically and commercially successful, and it had the awards and trophies to back it up. It was enough to induce a cringe worthy and embarrassing moment from Cameron, who famously shouted, “I am the king of the world!,” a line that came from the movie.
2. Kanye West Stealing Taylor Swift’s Thunder
This one is not really about a winner making a mess out of an acceptance speech. During the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Taylor Swift won the award for Best Female Video for her song “You Belong With Me.” She pulled off an upset, as the favorite was Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It).” The upset win upset Kanye West, one of the best friends of Beyonce’s husband Jay-Z. He grabbed the microphone from Swift and said, “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!” It was one of the most embarrassing moments of all time.
1. Tom Hanks’ Opening a Closet
In 1994, Tom Hanks won an Oscar for Best Actor for the movie Philadelphia, a movie about a gay man dying of AIDS. He then thanked his drama teacher who he deemed as “one of the finest gay Americans.” Nice and heartfelt, but the only problem was that the teacher had not come out yet. It later inspired the Kevin Kline movie In and Out.