The Oscars honor the best performances on film, but the telecast is all about celebrating the best speeches. Here’s how we called it:
1. Dallas Buyers Club‘s Matthew McConaughey, Best Actor
Running over three minutes, the Best Actor acceptance speech was a monument of pure unfiltered McConaughey-ness. He thanked God. He thanked his late father: “I know he’s up there right now, with a big pot of gumbo…he’s probably in his underwear, and he’s got a cold can of Miller Lite, and he’s dancin’.” He went on a very long tangent about how his hero is himself — or rather, “Me in ten years!” And then he said it: “All right all right all right.” Good? Bad? Such qualitative judgments don’t apply. This was McConaughey. This was America. This was 2014. This was the Oscars. #McConaissance
2. 12 Years a Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o, Best Supporting Actress
The breakout sensation of this Oscar season graciously thanked her director, Steve McQueen, saying, “This has been the joy of my life.” But she also made moving (and tearful) remarks about the real-life people at the center of 12 Years a Slave, saluting “the spirit of Patsey.” Her speech accumulated energy and wit as she sped along past the 90-second mark, thanking her family, thanking the Yale School of Drama — and even thanking the film’s editor, Joe Walker! “When I look down at this golden statue,” she concluded, “may it remind me, and every little child, that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid. Thank you.” And then, in an oddly perfect bit of incongruity, the orchestra played her off with a song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
3. Frozen’s Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for “Let It Go,” Original Song
If you want to do a laundry list of “thank you”s, the least you can do is make it rhyme! (“Happy Oscar to you, let’s do Frozen 2.”) The fun of it made the serious note — the song was inspired by their wish for their daughters to embrace their individuality — all the more touching.
4. Blue Jasmine‘s Cate Blanchett, Best Actress
What a lady! Blanchett strolled onstage to accept her second Oscar, chastising the applauding crowd to get back in their seats: “You’re too old to be standing!” She gave shout-outs to her fellow actresses — and memorably yelled out to Julia Roberts, “Hashtag Suck It! You know what I mean?” She fit in a tricky thank-you to her controversial director, and quickly segued into an energetic message about female-driven films: “Audiences want to see them. And, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people!” At the two-minute mark it was a perfect speech…and then she spent another minute thanking her publicist, her theater company, etc. A bland end to a speech that was just about impeccable.
5. 20 Feet From Stardom’s Morgan Neville, Documentary Feature
The award was dedicated to the late producer Gil Friesen, who’d said he wanted to win an Oscar with the project. But Darlene Love, one of its subjects, stole the moment by singing “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” Bill Murray couldn’t get to his feet fast enough.
6. Gravity‘s Alfonso Cuarón, Directing
Yes, there was another laundry list, but he kept it entertaining: Considering how long it took to make the movie, it was good that it was a transformative experience, he said, because otherwise, it would have been a waste. He thanked the “wise guys” at Warner Bros. before correcting himself — “the wise people.”
7. 12 Years a Slave‘s Brad Pitt and Steve McQueen, Best Picture
Pitt opened, but McQueen closed. He apologized for boring us, but we perked up when he thanked all the powerful women in his life, including his hard-headed mom, who looked to be in the very last row. And hold up, the jumping after the speech was one of the best moments of the night. Pure joy.
8. Mr Hublot’s Laurent Witz, Animated Short Film
His hands were shaking and he spoke in a fantastic French accent — he was our new favorite person (for, like, an hour).
9. The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life’s Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed, Documentary Short Subject (note: not full speech)
They played Reed off, but Clarke telling us that Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer, who died one week ago at the age of 110, will make us live a happier life — as she did his crew — makes us want to see this short even more.
10. 12 Years a Slave‘s John Ridley, Adapted Screenplay (note: not full speech)
Very succinct, heartfelt, and powerful — what you wanted that late in the telecast.
11. The Great Beauty’s Paolo Sorrentino, Best Foreign Language Film
The Italian Sorrentino just delivered another laundry list of thank-yous. But he also thanked his inspirations: Fellow Italian auteur Federico Fellini, the talking Heads, Martin Scorsese, and soccer player Diego Maradona. So if nothing else, he’s got the wildest taste of any Oscar winner.
12. Frozen’s Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, and Peter Del Vecho, Animated Feature Film
Short and very sweet — they dedicated the Oscar to their guardian angel, Peter’s son Ryder Buck.
13. Dallas Buyers Club’s Robin Mathews and Adruitha Lee, Makeup and Hairstyling
On a lighter note, they thanked Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey for allowing them to transform and torture them. But on a more reverent one, they said they also felt blessed to be able to bring this story to a younger generation.
14. Dallas Buyers Club’s Jared Leto, Best Supporting Actor
Thanking his single mother for encouraging him to be creative and dream was endearing. Thanking his brother by plugging their band Thirty Seconds to Mars was almost cringe-worthy. Overall, a little too predictable.
15. The Great Gatsby’s Catherine Martin, Costume Design
Pulling the speech out of her bra was the most exciting part.
16. Her‘s Spike Jonze, Original Screenplay (note: not full speech)
Feeling the pressure of his 42 seconds on stage, he stuck to his list, which included his friends — a nice change from the usual cast and crew rundown.
17. Gravity’s Emmanuel Lubezki, Cinematography (note: not full speech)
At least he acknowledged that everyone says they want to share the award with their cast and crew. He won us over by adding that he wanted to thank his teachers — some of them, not all of them. Still, the only video we could find on YouTube immediately following the awards was presenter Bill Murray’s tribute to Harold Ramis.
18. Helium’s Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson, Live Action Short Film
They thanked the Academy for keeping the category in the telecast, making those of you who used this one for a bathroom break feel guilty.
19. Gravity’s Tim Webber, Visual Effects
He delivered the standard “thank you” list on behalf of his co-recipients, but it was classy of him to thank not only their families but also the families of all visual effects artists.
20. Gravity’s Steven Price, Original Score
It was hard to follow Jamie Foxx’s “Chariots of Fire” recreation, but it was adorable that he apologized for making so much noise growing up.
21. Gravity’s Glenn Freemantle, Sound Editing
His heart was beating faster than Sandra Bullock’s, he said. Still, he held it together too well to be memorable.
22. The Great Gatsby’s Beverley Dunn and Catherine Martin, Production Design (note: not full speech)
Someone got a shout-out for swearing a lot, but that’s all we remember about it.
23. Gravity’s Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, and Chris Munro, Sound Mixing (note: not full speech)
They said they were over the moon, but we didn’t feel it.
24. Gravity’s Mark Sanger, Film Editing (note: not full speech)
Mrs. Sanger got a nice shout-out, but there was no time for co-editor Alfonso Cuarón to speak. Luckily, he won for directing.
— By Mandi Bierly and Darren Franich