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Oscars 2015: Ranking the acceptance speeches

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The 87th annual Academy Awards offered up a plethora of moving speeches, touching on subjects such as suicide, equal pay, racism, immigration, and more. But there were some speeches that stood out more than others, and as always, a handful you’ve probably already forgotten.

We rank them all below:

1. The Imitation Game’s Graham Moore, Best Adapted Screenplay

In one of the most talked about moments of the night, Graham Moore took the stage with a genuine sense of excitement. After adorably thanking Oprah—who presented the award—Moore turned his attention to a much more serious subject: Moore revealed that he tried to kill himself when he was 16. Moore then spoke directly to anyone who’s ever felt weird or different, telling them to “stay weird, stay different.” 

2. Whiplash’s J.K. Simmons, Best Supporting Actor

Simmons, no stranger to the stage this awards season, used most of his time to thank his wife for her love, kindness, wisdom, sacrifice, and patience. That, of course, brought him to his now-famous “above-average” children. Simmons called his kids “extraordinary human beings,” and in a moment that made all of America swoon, he called them a reflection of their mother.

He then moved his attention to the rest of us, passing along this message: “Call your mom, call your dad. If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call ’em. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call them on the phone. Tell ’em you love ’em, and thank them, and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you. Thank you. Thank you, Mom and Dad.” 

(BRB, calling my mom and dad.)

3. Selma‘s John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn, Best Original Song for “Glory”

Common first thanked God before commenting on how the bridge where Martin Luther King Jr. marched in Selma, which was once a landmark of a divided nation, has now become a symbol for change. John Legend then continued the inspirational speech, talking about an artist’s duty to “reflect the time in which we live.” According to Legend, “Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now.” Legend then noted that America is the most incarcerated country in the world before leaving the audience with, “March on.” 

4. Boyhood‘s Patricia Arquette, Best Supporting Actress

After quickly thanking everyone she needed to, from her cast and crew to her family, Arquette decided to tackle a much more serious issue, drawing the attention of all the women in the room: “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

And Meryl Streep loved it. 

5. Ida’s Pawel Pawlikowski, Best Foreign Language Film

From his first moment on stage, it was clear that Pawlikowski was going to give us a speech worth remembering: “Aw, God. How did I get here? We made a film about—as you saw, black and white—about the need for silence and withdrawal from the world and contemplation. And here we are at this epicenter of noise and world attention. Fantastic, you know, life is full of surprises.”

But Pawlikowski’s best moment wasn’t his beginning, but rather his end, when he refused to be played off, remaining on stage through the music and eventually winning out, giving himself enough time to thank his children and just generally, stick it to the Academy. 

6. Still Alice’s Julianne Moore, Best Actress

The start of Moore’s speech seemed like it was about to become her “you really love me” moment, but she was able to express a similar level of joy without letting it take over her entire speech. After mentioning an article that claimed that winning an Oscar made you live five years longer, Moore thanked the Academy—mostly because her husband is younger than she is. 

Moore then turned her focus to the continuing struggle with Alzheimer’s before thanking her family for giving her a home. Basically, her speech had a bit of everything.

7. The Theory of Everything’s Eddie Redmayne, Best Actor

Redmayne was already winning before he even got to the mic—freaking out with presenter Cate Blanchett. He then continued his winning streak by saying that his Oscar belongs to all the people around the world battling ALS. But with that in mind, he’s happy to be its custodian. And yes, he promises to polish it.

8. Birdman’s Alexandro G. Iñárritu, Best Picture

The Best Picture speech was a true group effort, but it was one full of just enough happiness and chaos. After Michael Keaton chimed in with a classic Michael Keaton sentiment—”It’s great to be here, who am I kidding?”—Iñárritu dedicated the award to his fellow Mexicans in Mexico, as well as the latest generation of immigrants in this country, hoping that they will be treated with the same dignity and respect as those before them who built our “incredible immigrant nation.” 

We should also mention that presenter Sean Penn, who worked with Iñárritu in 21 Grams, made a weird green card joke just before giving the film the award.

9. Birdman’s Alexandro G. Iñárritu, Best Director

Iñárritu’s second time on stage included the mention of Michael Keaton’s tighty whiteys—which he was wearing?—before he commented on how true art cannot be compared or labeled or defeated. According to Iñárritu, true art will only be judged by time. So take THAT, Academy.

10. The Phone Call’s Matt Kirkby and James Lucas, Best Live Action Short

Within their first 30 seconds on stage, Kirkby and Lucas had said “crikey,” called the Oscar statues “big buggars,” and mentioned Kirkby’s excitement about the fact that an Oscar apparently gets him a free doughnut at his local bakery? Sure, why not? 

11. Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1’s Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry, Best Documentary Short

Nothing can make a good speech like genuine excitement, and Kent and Perry both brought that to the stage, and followed it up with a very important message about the crisis hotlines that their film focused on. Ending on a touching note, Perry brought up the fact that she lost her son to suicide, saying, “We should talk about suicide out loud.”

12. Birdman’s Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., and Armando Bo, Best Original Screenplay

Iñárritu’s first time on stage was focused primarily on his writing partners, thanking them for being crazy enough to join him in pursuing this idea. The real highlight? Iñárritu stopping the music before it could even begin, telling the Academy to wait so that his fellow writers could have “family time.” Thanking their families quickly, each writer took to the mic. A dog was thanked… and so was all of Argentina.

13. Big Hero 6’s Don Hall, Chris Williams, Roy Conli, Animated Feature Film

Three grateful guys fist-pumping? That’s what a good acceptance speech should be. Tack on a story about a “freckled-faced little boy” who dreamt of working at Disney—not to mention a last-minute wife shout-out—and it’s hard to find fault in what happened here.

14. Whiplash’s Tom Cross, Best Film Editing

After struggling to find his way to stage, Cross—and his great hair—made sure to thank his cast and crew before finally telling his director, Damien Chazelle, “Your art changed my life forever.” Finishing his very composed speech, Cross thanked his family, telling them, “You made my life.” And he did it all in his allotted time.

15. Feast’s Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed, Best Animated Short

After the always-classy shout-out to the other films in the category, Osborne and Reed injected just enough emotion into their speech while remaining composed enough to thank their families for allowing them to pursue their crazy careers.

16. Interstellar‘s Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, and Scott Fisher, Best Visual Effects

Knocking out the necessities quickly—Paramount, Warner Brothers, etc.—they moved to thanking their wives and children, before ending with the mention of Professor Kip Thorne of Caltech “and all the explorers of science who show us the universe in all its amazing and terrifying beauty.”

Plus, you can’t hate a speech that mentions using an Oscar to try and score a free drink backstage.

17. The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Alexandre Desplat, Best Original Score

Desplat’s first win was accompanied with a very Desplat-esque speech, in which he thanked director Wes Anderson before just generally talking about how grateful he is to work in Hollywood. And most importantly, he ended things by thanking all of the important women in his life.

18. The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier, Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Hannon started things on a nice note by thanking Bill Murray for introducing her to Wes Anderson 17 years ago, before Coulier ended on an equally pleasant note, giving mention to Dick Smith, a makeup artist who passed away last year. Coulier thanked Smith for his “innovation and generosity.” 

You won’t remember it, but it was lovely.

19. American Sniper’s Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman, Best Sound Editing

Okay, so this speech wasn’t anything special, but the image of two men with matching gray hair and gray mustaches is something worth mentioning. Plus, they perfected the art of thanking everyone within the given time with TWO people. So good work, men.

20. Citizenfour’s Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, and Dirk Wilutzky, Best Documentary Feature

Taking a more serious approach to their acceptance speech, Poitras, Bonnefoy, and Wilutzky took advantage of their time on stage to talk about current threats to privacy, threats to democracy, and then thank the whistleblowers who have spoken up. They stumbled through the speech, but they get points for the message.

21. Birdman’s Emmanuel Lubezki, Best Cinematography

Lubezki used his time on stage to share his award with his fellow cast and crew and thank director Iñárritu for his passion and friendship. It was short and concise, and sometimes, that’s all we need.

22. The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Milena Canonero, Best Costume Design

First of all, you have to appreciate a woman in a black trenchcoat and some sparkly pants. But more than that, Canonero dedicated her time on stage to thanking director Wes Anderson for all his work. It wasn’t particularly memorable, but her pants were.

23. The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock, Production Design

This phrase was spoken: “Dreams come true.” Make of that what you will.

24. Whiplash’s Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley, Best Sound Mixing

Three men + a mic + not a lot to say = multiple awkward pauses.

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