1. “A mistake has been made. ‘Moonlight’, you won the Oscar” – Producer Jordan Horowitz, 2017
One of the most painful moments at an Oscar ceremony was in 2017, when La la land was named Best Picture. The cast of the musical film was already on stage when it turned out that the coveted statue was not intended for them. Producer Jordan Horowitz exclaimed, “A mistake has been made. Moonlight, you have won the Oscar for Best Picture. This is not a joke.”
A bailiff had accidentally handed presenter Warren Beatty the envelope for the ‘best actress’ category – which was for La la land star Emma Stone. For two minutes and twenty seconds, La la land was Oscar winner. Rest assured, the organization has since implemented a much stricter procedure to avoid such blunders in the future.
2. “Fascinating that the only smile this man will have in his entire life will come from showing his flaws” – David Niven, 1974
In 1974, a streaker caused quite a stir in the audience during the Oscar ceremony. “And then I will now open the contents of this important envelope…”, David Niven began, after which a streaker appeared behind the British presenter. It was Robert Opel, a gay rights activist, who had been hit backstage by impersonating a journalist. It elicited from the imperturbable Niven the legendary words: “Isn’t it fascinating that the only smile this man will have in his entire life comes from pulling out all the stops and showing his shortcomings?”
3. John Travolta fails to remember one name – 2014
John Travolta had one simple assignment at the 2014 Oscars. All he had to do was announce the singer Idina Menzel, the performer of the Disney hit Let it go from the movie Frozen. Still, the actor did not succeed. He announced her as ‘Adele Dazeem’.
A blunder that was remembered for a long time to come. At least until the following year. Because then Idina Menzel was allowed to take revenge. While John Travolta thought he’d been invited to prove this time that he really could remember an announcement, the singer gleefully retaliated by now announcing him as ‘Glom Gazingo’!
4. “Shame on you, Mr. Bush” – Michael Moore, 2003
Whoever gives Michael Moore a prize can expect a hearty word of thanks. In 2003, when the documentary maker received an Oscar for his film Bowling for Columbine, he shouted “Shame on you, mister Bush† The filmmaker went on a rampage about the war in Iraq, which he believes the American people had been tampered with for false reasons.
Half of the audience started jeering and booing Moore. The other half just nodded in agreement and clapped his hands together.
5. “Stumbling to the Oscars” – Jennifer Lawrence, 2013
When Jennifer Lawrence was named Best Actress in 2013 for her role in Silver Linings’ playbook, she couldn’t believe her ears. Stunned, she walked forward to receive her prize. But the stairs to the podium turned out to be an impossible hurdle. Jennifer tripped and for a moment lay forward on the steps like a dying swan.
Her colleagues in the room spontaneously stood up to support her and gave her a warm round of applause, after which the actress quickly forgot the embarrassing moment and gave her word of thanks. The following year she was of course also present at the event. Then she fell again. Jennifer Lawrence has introduced a new tradition: ‘tripping to the Oscars,’ the audience joked.
6. “I represent Marlon Brando tonight. He regrets to decline this award” – Activist Sacheen Littlefeather, 1973
It’s rife these days, but it was Marlon Brando who delivered the first politically charged victory speech in Oscar history in 1973. Not by speaking up, because the acting legend refused to collect his award for The Godfather.
In his place, a woman in traditional Apache garb and a feather in her hair took the stage. With a raised hand, she refused the Oscar statuette that Roger Moore tried to hand her.
Sacheen Littlefeather went on to say that Brando could not accept the award “because of the film industry’s treatment of Native Americans”. She was interrupted by booing from the audience.
7. Impressive Pushups – Jack Palance 1992
Longtime ironclad Jack Palance won an Oscar for City Slickers and then urged Hollywood to give more work to older actors. To back that up, he did some impressive push-ups on the podium.
8. Rob Lowe’s duet with Snow White – 1989
There is no arguing about taste, but sometimes there is little discussion. What many have called “the worst moment in Oscar history” is in the name of Rob Lowe. He opened the ceremony in 1989 with a musical number intended to be humorous.
It was so bad that big names like Julie Andrews, Paul Newman, Sidney Lumet and Gregory Peck wrote a letter together demanding that “never again a show like this” or else they would return their Oscars. Disney also filed a lawsuit against the organization, because Lowe had been joined by a (very bad) impersonation of Snow White.
The 11-minute fiasco even ended the career of Allan Carr, the ceremony’s producer. Although we do thank that man for the innovative words And the Oscar goes to…, instead of And the winner is… That is.
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